The Limits of Ferocity is a powerful critique of the culture of extremity represented in the works of D. H. Lawrence, Georges Bataille, Henry Miller, and Norman Mailer. Daniel Fuchs provides close readings of their literary and intellectual texts, which convey a loathing of middle-class culture or, as the case may be, society itself, in favor of a rebellion often expressed as an aggressive, even apocalyptic, sexuality. The Marquis de Sade is the precursor of this literature, which idealizes the self that violates taboos and laws in the search for erotic transcendence. Fuchs shows as well how these writers reflected and contributed to a broader cultural assault on liberal moderation and Freudian humanism. He explains Freud's theories of culture and sexual aggression and describes how they were rejected or reworked, sometimes in favor of a liberating violence, by theorists including Wilhelm Reich, Norman O. Brown, and Gilles Deleuze and Felix Guattari. Fuchs concludes with a reflection on books by William Burroughs, Bret Easton Ellis, and the sociologist Philip Rieff. This absorbing study illuminates the utopianism and narcissism in works of intellectual and artistic "ferocity" that characterized the turn in American consciousness from the period after the Second World War to the late 1960s and 1970s.
Daniel Fuchs is Professor Emeritus of English at the City University of New York's College of Staten Island. He is the author of Saul Bellow: Vision and Revision and The Comic Spirit of Wallace Stevens, both also published by Duke University Press.
Acknowledgments ix Introduction 1 1. Freud and the Postwar Temper 11 2. Freud and Others on Aggression 24 3. Wilhelm Reich 40 4. Norman O. Brown 53 5. Deleuze and Guattari 67 Interchapter. Deleuze and Guattari on Lawrence and Miller 88 6. The Marquis de Sade 102 7. D. H. Lawrence 145 8. Georges Bataille 194 Interchapter. Bataille on Sade 224 9. Henry Miller 232 Interchapter. Miller on Lawrence 271 10. Norman Mailer 293 Interchapter. Mailer on Mailer 332 Conclusion. The Naked and the Clothed 346 Notes 363 Index 391