A Dialogue in 16 Chapters
Plato's Republic is one of the best-known and most widely-discussed texts in the history of philosophy. But how might we get to the heart of this work today, 2,500 years after its original composition? Alain Badiou breathes life into Plato's landmark text and revives its universality. Rather than producing yet another critical commentary, he has instead worked closely on the original Greek and, through spectacular changes, adapted it to our times. In this innovative reimagining of Plato's work, Badiou has removed all references specific to ancient Greek society--from lengthy exchanges about moral courage in archaic poetry to political considerations mainly of interest to the aristocratic elite--and has expanded the range of cultural references. Here, philosophy is firing on all cylinders: Socrates and his companions are joined by Beckett, Pessoa, Freud, and Hegel, among others. Together these thinkers demonstrate that true philosophy endures, ready to absorb new horizons without changing its essence.
Moreover, Badiou--who is also a dramatist--has transformed the Socratic dialogue into a genuine oratorial contest. In his version of the Republic, the interlocutors do much more than simply agree with Socrates. They argue, stand up to him, put him on the spot, and show thought in motion. In this work of dramatic scholarship and philosophy, we encounter a modern version of Plato's text that is alive, stimulating, and directly relevant to our own world.
Here is something really remarkable: a complete reimagining of the founding text of philosophy. This book calls itself a hyper-translation, but it is also a repetition with a difference: an utterly contemporary transposition--and even sublimation--of Plato's Republic. It is always our task to breathe life into the ancients. They feed on our blood. Badiou shows himself a master of vampirism.
Simon Critchley, New School for Social Research
Badiou's translation of Plato follows the ancient habit of pre-copyright times: it freely changes the original to make it fit contemporary conditions. So instead of sophists, we get corrupted journalists; instead of soul, we get the subject; and instead of Plato's critique of democracy, we get... well, a critique of today's democracy. The result is a resounding triumph: Plato comes fully alive as our contemporary, as someone who directly addresses our issues. This, not aseptic scholarly work, is the mark of true fidelity to our past.
Slavoj iek, author of Living in the End
A lively rendering.... Those familiar with Plato's Republic will still hear Plato's voice in this engaging rendition.Library Journal
...a highly entertaining intellectual exercise.
A must read for students of Badiou.
Read Kenneth Reinhard's introduction, "Badiou's Sublime Translation of the Republic (to view in full screen, click on icon in bottom right-hand corner)