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Viscounts Swapping Stories

Michael Wood: Jacques Derrida, 1 November 2001

The Work of Mourning 
by Jacques Derrida, translated by Pascale-Anne Brault.
Chicago, 272 pp., £16, July 2001, 0 226 14316 3
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A Taste for the Secret 
by Jacques Derrida and Maurizio Ferraris, translated by Giacomo Donis.
Polity, 161 pp., £13.99, May 2001, 0 7456 2334 4
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... Jean-Marie Benoist, Edmond Jabès, Joseph Riddel, Michel Servière, Louis Marin, Sarah Kofman and Emmanuel Levinas. Six of the pieces are published here in English for the first time. The editors, Pascale-Anne Brault and Michael Naas, are sensitive to what might be ‘impolitic’ or ‘morbid’ about such a collection, but their introduction amply and ...

Jacques Derrida

Judith Butler: Commemorating ‘one of the greatest philosophers of the 20th century’, 4 November 2004

... and a host of others, including Edmund Jabès (1991), Louis Marin (1992), Sarah Kofman (1994), Emmanuel Levinas (1995) and Jean-François Lyotard (1998). In the last of these essays, for Lyotard, it is not his own death that preoccupies him, but rather his ‘debts’. These are authors that he could not do without, ones with and through whom he ...


Jonathan Rée, 8 May 1997

Proper Names 
by Emmanuel Levinas, translated by Michael Smith.
Athlone, 191 pp., £45, January 1997, 0 485 11466 6
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LevinasAn Introduction 
by Colin Davis.
Polity, 168 pp., £39.50, November 1996, 0 7456 1262 8
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Basic Philosophical Writings 
by Emmanuel Levinas, edited by Adriaan Peperzak, Simon Critchley and Robert Bernasconi.
Indiana, 201 pp., £29.50, November 1996, 0 253 21079 8
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... it must have been heaven. And one of the lucky ones was a 22-year-old Jew from Lithuania called Emmanuel Levinas. He had been born in 1906 – which made him just six months younger than Sartre – and after spending his youth in the Ukraine became a student in Strasbourg, where he gained a licence in philosophy, adopted French as his first ...

Everything You Know

Ian Sansom: Hoods, 3 November 2016

by Alison Kinney.
Bloomsbury, 163 pp., £9.99, March 2016, 978 1 5013 0740 9
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... Nibelungenlied, torture manuals and scholarly works on clergy clothing – she doesn’t mention Emmanuel Levinas. According to Levinas, the face speaks; it ‘renders possible and begins all discourse’. ‘The first word of the face,’ he says, is ‘Thou shalt not Kill.’ It’s always easier to ignore a ...

Who’s Who

Geoffrey Galt Harpham, 20 April 1995

Subjective Agency: A Theory of First-Person Expressivity and its Social Implications 
by Charles Altieri.
Blackwell, 306 pp., £40, August 1994, 1 55786 129 3
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... of this conviction. With essays by Derrida, Etienne Balibar, Luce Irigaray, Maurice Blanchot, Emmanuel Levinas and Gilles Deleuze, this book both established the distinctly French provenance of the dead-subject argument and, in characteristically French fashion, ‘put into question’ that argument itself by implying that another ‘who’, rather ...
Adventures on the Freedom Road: The French Intellectuals in the 20th Century 
by Bernard-Henri Lévy, translated by Richard Veasey.
Harvill, 434 pp., £20, December 1995, 1 86046 035 6
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The Imaginary Jew 
by Alain Finkielkraut, translated by Kevin O’Neill and David Suchoff.
Nebraska, 230 pp., £23.95, August 1994, 0 8032 1987 3
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The Defeat of the Mind 
by Alain Finkielkraut, translated by Judith Friedlander.
Columbia, 165 pp., $15, May 1996, 0 231 08023 9
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... Jews. It is significant that both authors should include in their intellectual genealogy the late Emmanuel Lévinas, who first introduced Judaism into French philosophical discourse. What does it mean to be Jewish in France today? It cannot simply involve going back to the old model of the ‘Israelite’ who conscientiously subscribed to Napoleon’s ‘Let ...

Literary Supplements

Karl Miller, 21 March 1991

by Denis Donoghue.
Cape, 193 pp., £12.99, March 1991, 0 224 03084 1
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Darkness Visible 
by William Styron.
Cape, 84 pp., £8.99, March 1991, 0 224 03045 0
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... he can’t follow parts of some of the books he annotates, books such as Totality and Infinity by Emmanuel Levinas, but that he is sometimes able to respond to particular sentences in the parts that defeat him. The admission is unusual, and endearing. I am unable, as it happens, to follow some of his annotations – to persuade myself, for instance, that ...


Denis Donoghue, 2 February 1984

Towards 2000 
by Raymond Williams.
Chatto, 273 pp., £9.95, October 1983, 9780701126858
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Writing in Society 
by Raymond Williams.
Verso, 268 pp., £18.50, December 1983, 0 86091 072 5
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Radical Earnestness: English Social Theory 1880-1980 
by Fred Inglis.
Martin Robertson, 253 pp., £15, November 1982, 0 85520 328 5
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... setting them up for combat is itself an act of violence. I’m reminded of an essay in which Emmanuel Levinas says that Hegel’s praise of the sense of sight for fostering an ungrasping sense of life is specious: because sight, in Hegel’s account of it, is the mere abstraction of seeing. The solitude of a mute glance upon the object, while it can ...


Edward Said: My Encounter with Sartre, 1 June 2000

... had been too naive – too anxious to come to Paris to meet Sartre, I reflected. There was talk of Emmanuel Levinas being involved, but, like the Egyptian intellectuals whom we’d been promised, he never showed up. In the meantime all our discussions were being recorded and were subsequently published in a special issue of Les Temps modernes (September ...

At the tent flap sin crouches

James Wood: The Fleshpots of Egypt, 23 February 2006

The Five Books of Moses: A Translation with Commentary 
by Robert Alter.
Norton, 1064 pp., £34, November 2004, 0 393 01955 1
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... their gods and sacrifice to their gods’. There is an ironic Midrashic commentary, mentioned by Emmanuel Levinas in Nine Talmudic Readings (1990), in which the Talmudists placed demons – spirits without bodies – inside Noah’s Ark. ‘These are the tempters of postdiluvian civilisation,’ ...

Not in the Mood

Adam Shatz: Derrida’s Secrets, 22 November 2012

Derrida: A Biography 
by Benoît Peeters, translated by Andrew Brown.
Polity, 629 pp., £25, November 2012, 978 0 7456 5615 1
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... insistence that ‘you can think only in the language of the other,’ a notion he borrowed from Emmanuel Levinas, was an implicit critique of Heidegger’s belief that ‘you can think only in your language, your own language.’ But deconstruction also owed a lot to Heidegger’s critique of metaphysics, and Derrida was prickly when critics put it to ...

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