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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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... We could also think of de Man’s rather beautiful evocation of Peirce’s ‘so suggestively unfathomable definition of the sign’. You have to like the unfathomable a lot to write like that. EvelynBarish catches this note very well in an awkward but telling mixed metaphor. De Man’s ‘approach to literature … took as its bedrock a subversive doubt concerning the truthtelling power of ...
17 June 2015
Dying Every Day: Seneca at the Court of Nero 
by James Romm.
Knopf, 290 pp., £18.45, March 2014, 978 0 307 59687 1
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Seneca: A Life 
by Emily Wilson.
Allen Lane, 253 pp., £25, March 2015, 978 1 84614 637 4
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... in 1983 that Paul de Man had written for Nazi-controlled newspapers in Belgium, a debate began on whether this had any bearing on the deconstruction he propounded. The new revelations rooted out by EvelynBarish in her biography of de Man last year – bigamy, fraud and an unserved prison sentence – further fuelled the discussion.* Similar questions circle around Heidegger: it had always been known ...

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