, Volume 37, Issue 1, pp 263–273 | Cite as

Foucault framing Foucault: the role of paratexts in the English translation of The Order of Things

  • Raili Poldsaar


Paratexts, especially forewords, have an unenviable task of introducing the text to follow to the readers but doing so without closing off meanings or containing the text in a limiting paradigm, preventing the readers from reaching new/alternative readings. This task is especially problematic in the case of thinkers like Foucault who was keenly aware of the disciplining, if not punishing, features of established genres and the inevitable struggles over power/knowledge they create. It is therefore especially interesting to analyze how Foucault himself deals with the need to define his own volatile ideas, for a translated edition of his work. The present paper seeks to compare the two paratexts, foreword to the English translation and attached to the English translation of Michel Foucault’s The Order of Things. The analysis will, first, look at the discursive features of the two texts, analyzing how the specific choices made in the paratexts define, frame and contain the work that follows. The analysis will be placed in a Foucauldian frame, comparing the discourses employed in the paratexts to the orders of discourse as defined by Foucault, primarily the author-function and the contradictory role of the commentary.


Paratexts Foucault Genette Authorship Discourse Reception 


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Copyright information

© Akadémiai Kiadó, Budapest, Hungary 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of EnglishUniversity of TartuTartuEstonia

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