French psychoanalyst Jacques Lacan has been a major influence on a wide range of twentieth-century thought, even as the breadth, complexity, and obscurity of his work has intimidated students and deterred casual readers. That situation hasn’t been helped by uneven translations into English that have led to a popular conception of his intellectual enterprise that can at times be profoundly mistaken.
In this brief, clearly written introduction to Lacan and his work, Martin Murray presents an up-to-date survey of his key concepts, their development, and their influence on fields such as anthropology, linguistics, and philosophy. Arguing strongly that we should move beyond the traditional focus on Lacan’s early work, which favored a linguistic approach, Murray offers instead a more comprehensive overview of the whole arc of Lacan’s thought. The result is a rigorous, yet accessible, account of one of the key intellectual figures of the twentieth century.