University of Chicago Press, 1993 - Biography & Autobiography - 417 pages
Geoffrey Bennington sets out here to write a systematic account of the thought of Jacques Derrida. Responding to Bennington's text at every turn is Derrida's own, excerpts from his life and thought that, appearing at the bottom of each page, resist circumscription. Together these texts, as a dialogue and a contest, constitute a remarkably in-depth, critical introduction to one of the leading philosophers of the twentieth century and, at the same time, demonstrate the illusions inherent in such a project. Bennington's account of Derrida, broader in scope than any ever done, leads the reader through the philosopher's familiar yet still widely misunderstood work on language and writing to the less familiar and altogether more mysterious themes of signature, sexual difference, law, and affirmation. Seeking to escape this systematic rendering--in fact, to prove it impossible--Derrida interweaves Bennington's text with surprising and disruptive "periphrases": reflections on his mother's death agony, commentaries on St. Augustine's "Confessions," memories of childhood, remarks on Judaism, and references to his collaborator's efforts. This extraordinary book offers, on the one hand, a clear and compelling account of one of the most difficult and important contemporary thinkers, and, on the other, one of that thinker's strangest and most unexpected texts. Far from putting an end to the need to discuss Derrida, as Bennington's text might have pretended, this dual text opens new dimensions in the philosopher's thought and work and extends its challenge. Geoffrey Bennington, Professor of French literature at the University of Sussex, is the author, among other books, of "Lyotard: Writing theEvent" and cotranslator of Derrida's "Of Spirit: Heidegger and the Question" and "The Truth in Painting." Jacques Derrida is professor at the Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales, Paris, and the author of numerous books. Among them, "Of Spirit," "The Truth in Painting," "The Post Card," and "Writing and Difference," are published by the University of Chicago Press.
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by Jacques Derrida
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