A chronological list of Agamben’s publications, with reflections thereon

When I was working on my conclusion for the edited volume Agamben’s Philosophical Lineage, which I have entitled “Agamben as a Reader of Agamben,” I had frequent reference to the order of publication of Agamben’s works, which sometimes surprised me as an English-language reader. I naively assumed that the order of publication in English would more or less track with the Italian, but the time lags have been much more varied than one might think. I also realize that I sometimes conflated my own personal experience of stumbling across certain works with the time they must have been released (I just assumed the Seminary Co-Op would always be up to date, and I wasn’t always right). I’m just going to list the bibliography in order “below the fold” and then add some remarks.

(The first year indicates the Italian publication, and in parentheses after I add the English translation if applicable. For ease of use, I will refer only to English titles and omit subtitles.)

1970, The Man Without Content (1999)
1977, Stanzas (1993)
1978, Infancy and History (1996)
1982, Language and Death (1991)
1985, Idea of Prose (1995)
1990, The Coming Community (1993)
1995, Homo Sacer (1998)
1996, Means Without End (2000)
1996, The End of the Poem (1999)
1998, Remnants of Auschwitz (1999)
*1999, Potentialities — essay collection originally published in English; the same collection was later published in Italian in 2005
2000, The Time that Remains, 2005
2002, The Open (2004)
2003, State of Exception (2005)
2005, Profanations (2007)
2006, What is an Apparatus? (2009)
2007, Nymphs (2013)
2007, The Kingdom and the Glory (2011)
2008, The Signature of All Things (2009)
2008, The Sacrament of Language (2011)
2009, Nudities (2011)
2010, The Church and the Kingdom (2012)
2010, The Unspeakable Girl (2014)
2011, The Highest Poverty (2013)
2012, Opus Dei (2013)
2013, The Mystery of Evil (forthcoming 2016)
2013, Pilate and Jesus (2015)
2014, The Fire and the Tale (forthcoming 2016)
2014, The Use of Bodies (2016)
2015, Stasis (2015)
2015, Gusto (don’t know)
2015, L’avventura (don’t know)
2015, Pulcinella (don’t know)
2016, What is Philosophy? (translation planned)

One thing that stands out to me is how slow his early publication schedule is compared to the 2000s and especially the 2010s. I also tend to think of The End of the Poem as belonging to the pre-Homo Sacer era, and some of the individual essays do stem from earlier, but a good portion of the book is contemporary with or even after Homo Sacer, and the same may be said of Potentialities. (Indeed, a more patient person might augment this list with the individual essays collected in those books.)

Also striking to me is the fact that Nymphs, which I took to be emblematic of the “late Agamben” given its small format, actually came right in the midst of some of the most famous recent works — it isn’t an afterthought, in other words. The same goes for The Unspeakable Girl.

Mentally, I also tended to group the method books together as a “later” occurence, but they really came fast and furious during the middle of the Homo Sacer era — and I think it is really telling that they were clustered around The Kingdom and the Glory, which radically expanded the scope and altered the approach compared to the initial three HS volumes and likely occasioned more explicit methodological reflection (which frankly may have been helpful going into the first volume).

The real stunner here, I think, is the fact that both The Time That Remains and The Open — arguably his two most generative books aside from Homo Sacer itslef, in terms of his own development — were so early, coming even before State of Exception. And that makes it all the more strange that they could not find their way into the architectonic of the Homo Sacer series.

These are probably not the most interesting or rigorous comments I’ve ever written — mostly I just wanted to provide an easy “at a glance” list of the order of his works. I welcome any thoughts in comments or, more likely, on Facebook.

7 thoughts on “A chronological list of Agamben’s publications, with reflections thereon

  1. Probably the last thing you want to hear now and surely a bit futile to add to the confusion, but regarding the philosophical lineage, I’ve found it all very interesting, including the partitions, but—while understanding it’s an editors work which might not be adequate to go public beforehand—feel a pity that it wasn’t open to discussion in the blog while deciding the categories of the partition and its inclusions. Those seem fine, specially the quite consensual primary interlocutors, and even if Agamben’s writing always makes one suspicious of a lot of important submerged dialogues going on. But some inclusions as points of reference (or submerged dialogues) seem not obvious to me at all. Deleuze is a curious case, for me, because he seems more like a kind of submerged primary interlocutor, not so much a point of reference. Perhaps too much importance is given to some (perhaps Hölderlin, Bataille, Lacan, Freud, Scholem, Adorno, I would say) comparatively to the regrettable absences of Wittgenstein, Primo Levi or Furio Jesi. Other hypothesis would be Vittorino, Saint Thomas, Saint Francis, Hobbes, Leibniz, Schelling, Kojève, Lévinas, Yann Thomas, Melandri, Badiou, Nancy, Pasolini… And what about Meillassoux as a submerged dialogue? ;) But perhaps you’re asking the contributors to include other references to the ones they’re writing about, like Primo Levi in Dante’s entry?

  2. Adam, I’d meant to ask you, back on the chapbook post: Do you plan to translate What is Philosophy? I’m very curious to read it…

  3. About the slowness of his early publication, one has to take into account that much of his short early essays are usually only compiled much later in time, and this kind of give us a distorted view of his literary productivity.

    But what strikes me most about the urgency of his middle publication is that, firstly, it coincides with the ‘political turn’ of his philosophy, and, secondly, has as its pretty obvious historical background the Fall of the Berlin Wall and what followed. So, ‘La comunità che viene’ (1991) is already largely a political book, and those political essays compiled later in ‘Mezzi senza fine’ (1996) all date from after that historical event and the beginning of the Homo Sacer series. More importantly—and although the theme has minor occurrences before—all this is only briefly preceded by the beginning of his obsessive ontological reflections on potentiality, which gain weight after the 1987 Lisbon conference on ‘La potenza del pensiero’ (first published in ‘Potentialities’). I guess this series of coincidences contributes to the disruptive nature of his philosophical work.

    Regarding the deployment of the series, it sure seems those first years just after the beginning were largely exploratory, and for that reason perhaps (although sometimes literally quoted or paraphrased in other works belonging to the series) ‘The Time That Remains’ and ‘The Open’ don’t really fit in its more strict architectonics, simply because those works are not explicitly about the operations of the biopolitical and governmental paradigms and their theological archeology and genealogy.

    By the way, what do you call “method books”? Besides of ‘The Signature of All Things’ (2008), again a collection of texts (its first essay, on paradigm, dates as back as 2002), I can’t think of none. Maybe you’re referring to ‘The Sacrament of Language’ (2008), for instance, as ‘more explicit methodological reflection’?

  4. The challenge with the edited volume is that we were trying to keep it to approximately 100,000 words. Carlo’s sense was that anything significantly longer would not be attractive to publishers — and of course, the more chapters we add, the more difficult it is to coordinate (and the more likely the entire work becomes indefinitely delayed). We’re aware that every reader of Agamben will likely disagree with the list on points of detail or emphasis, but we’re confident that it’s at least as good as any other possible list constrained by a 100,000-word limit. As for why it wasn’t discussed on the blog: partly it was a desire to keep things confidential until we definitely had a publisher, and partly it’s because blog discussions have frankly been of very low quality for the past few years. Hence it literally didn’t occur to me. Perhaps that was short-sighted.

  5. This is nothing personal against your comments André, but a general observation. People are increasingly reluctant to comment directly on the blog, meaning any advice would likely be scattered among a few different Facebook threads. Most people would probably limit themselves to a list of names to include (or leave off), with little explanation. And in the end, we are the editors and would have to make the decision ourselves anyway. Consulting the blog seems like a recipe for frustration.

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