First published in France 1993, Elizabeth Roudinesco’s definitive biography, Jacques Lacan, is neither hagiographic nor vindictive; Ms. Roudinesco, a psychoanalyst based in Paris and the author of two previous books on the history of psychoanalysis in France, employs the wise strategy of the pre-emptive strike–she acknowledges Lacan’s personal absurdity and literary extravagence while simultaneously showing why and how he matters. . . . Ms. Roudinesco captures the freshness of the intellectual world in which Lacan’s developing notions were concocted, before the parochialism of his heirs rendered Lacanian thinking monolithic and humorless. . . . Ms. Roudinesco’s biography, solidly translated by Barbara Bray, is a welcome aid to keeping him in perspective.