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David Hoy, 23 November 1989

Of Spirit: Heidegger and the Question 
by Jacques Derrida, translated by Geoffrey Bennington and Rachel Bowlby.
Chicago, 139 pp., £15.95, September 1989, 0 226 14317 1
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... Derrida likes to surprise, and the first surprise of this book is the title itself. The common assumption that the French Post-Structuralists abandoned the interest of their phenomenological predecessors in consciousness, subjectivity and the entire philosophical vocabulary including words like ‘spirit’ and ‘soul’ is challenged by the titles of the two recent books by Derrida, De l’esprit and Psyché, both published in France in 1987 ...

Names

Christopher Norris, 20 February 1986

Signéponge/Signsponge 
by Jacques Derrida, translated by Richard Rand.
Columbia, 160 pp., $20, March 1984, 0 231 05446 7
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... There are many possible ways to describe Derrida’s text, none of them adequate but some less misleading than others. One can begin on safe ground, surely, by saying that Signsponge is ‘about’ the French writer Francis Ponge; that it involves a sustained and intricate meditation on the status of proper names and signatures in general; that it takes up themes from Derrida’s previous writing, notably from Limited Inc, his exchange with John Searle on the topic (supposedly) of speech-act philosophy; and that Signsponge is perhaps his most extravagant text to date, judged by all the normal, reputable standards of literary-critical practice ...

Quashed Quotatoes

Michael Wood: Finnegans Wake, 16 December 2010

Finnegans Wake 
by James Joyce, edited by Danis Rose and John O’Hanlon.
Houyhnhnm, 493 pp., £250, March 2010, 978 0 9547710 1 0
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Joyce’s Disciples Disciplined 
edited by Tim Conley.
University College Dublin, 185 pp., £42.50, May 2010, 978 1 906359 46 1
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... anyway, because ‘some familiarity’ is not entirely nothing. I take comfort from the fact that Jacques Derrida manifestly (in ‘Deux mots pour Joyce’) put himself in this category, and for such a reader the scepticism about grand schemes or total understanding that we find in the best recent criticism is very attractive. John Bishop, for ...

Princeton Diary

Alan Ryan: In Princeton , 26 March 1992

... is, for instance, pretty suicidal for embattled minorities to embrace Michel Foucault, let alone Jacques Derrida. The minority view was always that power could be undermined by truth: that it was unjustly distributed, that its holders wanted this overlooked and purchased all sorts of intellectual disguises for the purpose, that it would be an uphill ...

The Marxist and the Messiah

Terry Eagleton: Snapshots of Benjamin, 9 September 2021

The Benjamin Files 
by Fredric Jameson.
Verso, 262 pp., £20, November 2020, 978 1 78478 398 3
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... Roman Jakobson, Roland Barthes, Julia Kristeva, J. Hillis Miller, Hélène Cixous, Jacques Derrida: all of them are admirably close readers. Marxist critics like Jameson are among the more notable targets of this bit of intellectual indolence, which is the reason he once remarked that they have a particular responsibility to come to terms ...

In Praise of History

Earl Miner, 1 March 1984

A History of Japanese Literature. Vol. I: The First Thousand Years 
by Shuichi Kato, translated by David Chibbett.
Macmillan, 319 pp., £20, September 1979, 0 333 19882 4
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A History of Japanese Literature. Vol. II: The Years of Isolation 
by Shuichi Kato, translated by Don Sanderson.
Macmillan, 230 pp., £20, October 1983, 0 333 22088 9
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A History of Japanese Literature. Vol. III: The Modern Years 
by Shuichi Kato, translated by Don Sanderson.
Macmillan, 307 pp., £20, October 1983, 0 333 34133 3
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World within Walls 
by Donald Keene.
Secker, 624 pp., £15, January 1977, 0 436 23266 9
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Modern Japanese Poets and the Nature of Literature 
by Makoto Ueda.
Stanford, 451 pp., $28.50, September 1983, 0 8047 1166 6
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Low City, High City: Tokyo from Edo to the Earthquake 
by Edward Seidensticker.
Allen Lane, 302 pp., £16.95, September 1983, 0 7139 1597 8
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... James, Life of Hawthorne But, first of all, is there a history of silence?    Jacques Derrida, Writing and Difference Literary history? Can there still be people who believe in it – or them: literature, history, literary history? Are not all texts on the same level, just texts? Is history not something synchronic, merely a different ...

Nothing but the Worst

Michael Wood: Paul de Man, 8 January 2015

The Paul de Man Notebooks 
edited by Martin McQuillan.
Edinburgh, 357 pp., £80, April 2014, 978 0 7486 4104 8
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The Double Life of Paul de Man 
by Evelyn Barish.
Norton, 534 pp., £25, September 2014, 978 0 87140 326 1
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... opposite: ‘I consciously came across “deconstruction” for the first time in the writings of Jacques Derrida’; ‘Derrida used the term and put it on the map.’ And still less did he, in Evelyn Barish’s words, ‘create a new philosophy, a way of looking at the world that redefined America’s cultural point ...

Into Thin Air

Marina Warner: Science at the Séances, 3 October 2002

The Invention of Telepathy 
by Roger Luckhurst.
Oxford, 334 pp., £35, June 2002, 0 19 924962 8
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... locks. Discussing Freud’s captivation in the 1920s by the possibility of thought transference, Jacques Derrida remarks that it is ‘difficult to imagine a theory of what they still call the unconscious without a theory of telepathy’.3 Derrida also allows himself to wonder, as most of us have done, how it is that ...

Lunging, Flailing, Mispunching

Terry Eagleton: Richard Dawkins, 19 October 2006

The God Delusion 
by Richard Dawkins.
Bantam, 406 pp., £20, October 2006, 0 593 05548 9
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... right-wing Cambridge dons who filed eagerly into the Senate House some years ago to non-placet Jacques Derrida for an honorary degree. Very few of them, one suspects, had read more than a few pages of his work, and even that judgment might be excessively charitable. Yet they would doubtless have been horrified to receive an essay on Hume from a ...

Dynasty

Sherry Turkle: Lacan and Co, 6 December 1990

Jacques Lacan and Co: A History of Psychoanalysis in France, 1925-1985 
by Elisabeth Roudinesco, translated by Jeffrey Mehlman.
Free Association, 816 pp., £25, December 1990, 9781853431630
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... life. Ready to satisfy it was the brand of psychoanalytic thinking embodied in the work of Jacques Lacan. His Cartesian, poeticised and linguistic psychoanalysis constituted a French reinvention of Freud. Towards the end of the decade, what might have been confined to the hothouse world of the intellectuals was carried beyond by the passions of May ...
... specialities as a complete modern edition of Milton, and the plays of Shadwell. Even, in French, Jacques Derrida. An inquisitive African linguist of philosophical bent might have set off on a deconstructionist course long before most British academics had heard of such things. Came 1971. Came world-wide recession. Came war and pillaging troops (who ...

A New Theory of Communication

Alastair Fowler, 30 March 1989

Relevance: Communication and Cognition 
by Dan Sperber and Deirdre Wilson.
Blackwell, 279 pp., £8.95, March 1986, 0 631 13756 4
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Human Agency: Language, Duty and Value 
edited by Jonathan Dancy, J.M.E. Moravcsik and C.C.W. Taylor.
Stanford, 308 pp., $35, September 1988, 0 8047 1474 6
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... of codes so extremely as to deny the communicator any role, while Derridadaists – and sometimes Jacques Derrida himself – stress the frailty of coding through regress of signification, and regard communication itself as enmeshed in undecidabilities. From the present point of view, Derrida’s asking by what ...

Le pauvre Sokal

John Sturrock: The Social Text Hoax, 16 July 1998

Intellectual Impostures 
by Alan Sokal and Jean Bricmont.
Profile, 274 pp., £9.99, October 1999, 1 86197 074 9
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... its most prominent targets, Julia Kristeva, as ‘an anti-French intellectual escapade’, while Jacques Derrida, on whom the authors could for once find nothing to pin, responded with a seen-it-all-before sigh, ‘le pauvre Sokal’.Poor Sokal and poor Bricmont believe that the garlanded French thinkers who have been leading the American young (and ...

Spiritual Rock Star

Terry Eagleton: The failings of Pope John Paul II, 3 February 2005

The Pope in Winter: The Dark Face of John Paul II’s Papacy 
by John Cornwell.
Viking, 329 pp., £20, February 2005, 0 670 91572 6
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... political priests, of whom he himself was once one. He has even been known to take a smack at Jacques Derrida. As the 1980s wore on, John Paul rolled back one Vatican Council agenda after another. To do so, however, he needed to smash the Council doctrine of collegiality, which in impeccably orthodox fashion saw the Church as governed by the bishops ...

Lend me a fiver

Terry Eagleton: The grand narrative of experience, 23 June 2005

Songs of Experience: Modern American and European Variations on a Universal Theme 
by Martin Jay.
California, 431 pp., £22, January 2005, 0 520 24272 6
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... Plato and Spinoza saw it as a realm of illusion, to be contrasted with the pure light of reason. Jacques Derrida deeply disliked the notion, suspecting it of dark metaphysical tendencies. For William Blake, from whom Martin Jay takes the title of his absorbing new study, experience is a domain of false consciousness and fruitless desire. For Romantics ...

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