Anti-Oedipus is by far the best known work by Deleuze or Guattari. A succès de scandale in 1972, the book generated heated disputes and violent polemics in France that have since reverberated, with varying degrees of intensity, across Germany, Italy, England, Australia, and the United States. The modern counterpart of The Antichrist of Nietzsche, The Anti-Oedipus (a more literal translation of its title) is a frontal assault on the contemporary form of piety known as the Oedipus complex. Although directed specifically against psychoanalysis, a pervasive force in French social and intellectual life in the late 1960s and early 1970s, Anti-Oedipus ultimately challenges every psychological theory that elevates family relationships and the unified self to positions of pre-eminence. Deleuze and Guattari argue that all desire is social rather than familial, and that the best guide to social desire is the schizophrenic id rather than the neurotic ego. They propose to replace psychoanalysis with a ‘schizo-analysis’, which focuses on subindividual body parts and their supra-individual, social interconnections, and which treats the Freudian and Marxist theoretical domains as a single realm of desiring-production. No mere Marxo-Freudian synthesis, Anti-Oedipus subsumes Marx and Freud within a Nietzschean framework, which serves as the basis, not only for a critique of psychoanalysis and traditional Marxism, but also

for the development of a history and a politics of social-libidinal activity.1 To readers acquainted only with Deleuze’s early work, Anti-Oedipus must

seem at once both familiar and strange. Many of the terms, concepts and themes of

Difference and Repetition and The Logic of Meaning appear in Anti-Oedipus, but redefined, reconfigured, and resituated within analyses of a much more immediately political import. Deleuze’s genius for integrating heterogeneous elements within a coherent structure is everywhere apparent, but his dry tone – which, reports Clement Rosset, a reader of Deleuze once likened to a cracker

without butter2 – yields to a much more impassioned and varied voice, one that is by turns irreverent, rhapsodic, witty, colloquial, gnomic and profuse. Deleuze’s interdisciplinary argumentation continues in Anti-Oedipus, but references to academic philosophy tend to disappear and the authorities cited tend increasingly to be marginal (psychotics such as Artaud, Judge Schreber and Nijinsky), unfashionable (Wilhelm Reich and Henry Miller) or unconventionally applied (Nietzsche as anthropologist, Kafka as political theorist). To some extent, one can attribute these shifts in tone and mode of argumentation to the influence of Guattari, but for the most part it is the collaborative process itself that led to the creation of a work qualitatively different from anything Deleuze and Guattari had written before. In a 1972 interview, Deleuze recalls how he and Guattari set about writing Anti-Oedipus:

So Félix and I decided to work together. At first it was done through letters. And then from time to time, meetings in which each listened to the other. We’d be very entertained. We’d be very bored. Always one of us talked too much. It would happen often that one would propose a notion that would say nothing to the other, and the other would only use it months later in another context. And then we read a lot, not entire books, but pieces . . .. And then we wrote a lot. Félix treats writing as a schizo flux that carries all sorts of things along with it. What interests me is that a page flee on all sides, and yet that it be very much closed in on itself like an egg. And then that there be retentions, resonances, precipitations, and lots of larvae in a book. Thus, we truly wrote as two, we had

no problems in that regard.3