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Reading De Man Reading

Reading De Man Reading

Lindsay Waters
Wlad Godzich
Volume: 59
Copyright Date: 1989
Edition: NED - New edition
Pages: 328
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  • Book Info
    Reading De Man Reading
    Book Description:

    Thirteen essays address de Man’s theory and practice of reading, including the nature of those readings and what they signify for reading in general, not just for literary texts. "Accomplishes the goal of insisting on the continuing importance of de Man's work for literary studies." --American Book Review

    eISBN: 978-0-8166-8278-2
    Subjects: Language & Literature

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-v)
  3. Abbreviations
    (pp. vi-vii)
  4. Prefatory Note
    (pp. viii-2)
    Lindsay Waters
  5. Looking Back on Paul de Man
    (pp. 3-24)
    Geoffrey Hartman

    The death of Paul de Man at the age of sixty-four deprives us of a literary critic whose influence, already immense in the United States and on the Continent, was beginning to be received elsewhere. This influence is not linked to a large body of published work. De Man’s career started late. His studies at the University of Brussels were interrupted by the war; after the war, he emigrated to America, taught at Bard, participated in Harvard’s Society of Fellows, took his Ph.D. only in 1960 (his thesis on Mallarmé and Yeats still awaits full publication), and served as a...

  6. Psyche: Inventions of the Other
    (pp. 25-65)
    Jacques Derrida

    What else am I going to be able to invent?

    Here perhaps we have an inventive incipit for a lecture. Imagine, if you will, a speaker daring to address his hosts in these terms. He thus seems to appear before them without knowing what he is going to say; he declares rather insolently that he is setting out to improvise. Obliged as he is to invent on the spot, he wonders again: “Just what am I going to have to invent?” But simultaneously he seems to be implying, not without presumptuousness, that the improvised speech will constantly remain unpredictable, that...

  7. A Defence of Rhetoric / The Triumph of Reading
    (pp. 66-81)
    Deborah Esch

    What do “The Triumph of Life” and Paul de Man’s programmatic reading of Shelley’s unfinished poem have to tell us about theory?¹ Writing in his preface toThe Rhetoric of Romanticism, which reprints “Shelley Disfigured” in a theoretical context distinct from that of its prior publication in the collective volumeDeconstruction and Criticism, de Man singles out this essay as “the only place where I come close to facing some of these questions” about the fragmentary and interrupted character not only of so many pivotal romantic texts, but of his own critical corpus as well.² In his account of “The...

  8. Lurid Figures
    (pp. 82-104)
    Neil Hertz

    This essay is about a characteristic — and characteristically unsettling — aspect of Paul de Man’s writing, his particular way of combining analysis and pathos, of blending technical arguments about operations of rhetoric (often presented in an abstract, seemingly affectless idiom) with language — his own and that of the texts he cites — whose recurrent figures are strongly marked and whose themes are emotively charged, not to say melodramatic.

    Take, as an initial example, the concluding paragraphs of his discussion of Kleist (RR, 288–90). De Man has been commenting on the description of the puppets in “Über das...

  9. Allegories of Reading Paul de Man
    (pp. 105-120)
    Carol Jacobs

    There is no way to say adequately what the significance of de Man might be. It could not be otherwise, for he himself linked death to the impossibility of defining man as presence and with man’s perpetual transgression of his own sense of self as totalized. And, given that the transgression is perpetual, it took no literal death to both upset and set the task, that of reading the man, which is to say, of writing about him.

    “We write,” as the essay entitled “Allegory” reminds us, “in order to forget our foreknowledge of the total opacity of [de Man’s]...

  10. Paul de Manʹs History
    (pp. 121-135)
    Kevin Newmark

    Now that some of the urgency has dropped out of the polemics and panegyrics surrounding the name Paul de Man, a more sober attitude of critical assessment seems in order, and therefore it is not surprising to see the question of declaringwhetherPaul de Man’s work is of importance turn into the necessity of determining just where that importance lies. The issue is essentially historical in nature, since it addresses the place of de Man’s work in the field of literary studies, considered at a particular moment but also within an ongoing and more comprehensive process of continuity and...

  11. Pieces of Resistance
    (pp. 136-154)
    Peggy Kamuf

    A text such as theProfession de foican literally be called “unreadable” in that it leads to a set of assertions that radically exclude each other. Nor are these assertions mere neutral constations; they are exhortative performatives that require the passage from sheer enunciation to action. They compel us to choose while destroying the foundations of any choice. They tell the allegory of a judicial decision that can be neither judicious nor just. . . . One sees from this that the impossibility of reading should not be taken too lightly. (AR, 245)

    These sentences conclude chapter 10 of...

  12. ʺReadingʺ Part of a Paragraph in Allegories of Reading
    (pp. 155-170)
    J. Hillis Miller

    Any reader of Paul de Man’s work is likely to be struck by certain aphoristic formulations that seem deliberately provocative in their all-or-nothing generality and in their slightly defiant irony. Examples are the following: “Conceptual language, the foundation of civil society, is also, it appears, a lie superimposed upon an error” (AR, 155). “One sees from this that the impossibility of reading should not be taken too lightly” (AR, 245). “We never lie as much as when we want to do full justice to ourselves, especially in self-accusation” (AR, 269–70). Among such sentences is the one in “Allegory (Julie)”...

  13. LECTIO: de Manʹs Imperative
    (pp. 171-201)
    Werner Hamacher

    It is not certain that there can be a science of literature.

    If the goal of literary criticism¹ is determined as the systematic clarification of all the specifically literary aspects of literature, then one treats this specificity like a riddle that can be solved by the translation of the figures of literature into the generally comprehensible language of science. Literary language is thus declared to be a systematic distortion of a normal language with literary criticism operating as its orthopedic agent. Should failure occur in the process of decoding, a process that epistemologically presupposes the general validity of linguistic rules...

  14. Response to Paul de Man
    (pp. 202-208)
    Hans Robert Jauss

    Dear Paul,

    No name has been mentioned more often than yours in my seminars between Sather Tower and Wheeler Hall and none has been called upon more frequently in discussions among students, colleagues, and myself. While the debate in New York in 1973 was concerned with reception aesthetics and semiotics, in New Haven in 1976 with the tensions between the Konstanz School and the Yale Critics, the Berkeley debate in 1983 focused on the polarity of hermeneutics and “deconstruction.” Thus, today, what better opportunity to end my third American adventure than to write a thank-you note for your introduction to...

  15. Aberrations: de Man (and) the Machine
    (pp. 209-222)
    Geoffrey Bennington

    In the complete works of Blaise Pascal, the famous arithmetical machine is the more-or-less absent referent of three texts, two of which are by Pascal himself.¹ The first of these is a dedicatory letter addressed to Chancellor Séguier, and apparently dominated by its addressee in the form of the pronoun of respect,vous; the second is anAvis(not quite an instruction booklet), destined to “those who will have the curiosity to see the said machine and to make use of it,” again dominated by the addressee, but this time in the familiarity of the pronountu, designating theami...

  16. The Deconstruction of Politics
    (pp. 223-243)
    Bill Readings

    At the Oklahoma Conference on Contemporary Genre Theory in 1984, Barbara Johnson, at the opening of a symposium with J. Hillis Miller and Louis Mackey, called for a dialogue between Marxism and deconstruction that would take the form of an interchange between the realm of “discourse” and the “realm of historical and political action”:

    Deconstruction . . . has within it the creation of a feeling of imperative. . . . a feeling that if deconstruction can take you this far in the critique of power structures in discourse, then why not go further? Why not actually translate what deconstruction...

  17. Lessons of Remembering and Forgetting
    (pp. 244-258)
    Timothy Bahti

    Paul de Man was a man who is hard to forget, and whose remarks are often easy to remember. We are reminded of one of these in reading the revised second edition ofBlindness and Insight, where the very earliness of the remark causes it to stand out as a reminder of what was to come in de Man’s work. In the 1954 article entitled “Heidegger’s Exegeses of Hölderlin,” included in this revised edition, he writes of Hölderlin’s manuscripts that “it is often impossible to choose between two possible lessons in the very places where explication is most necessary” (248)....

  18. In-Difference to Philosophy: de Man on Kant, Hegel, and Nietzsche
    (pp. 259-294)
    Rodolphe Gasché

    Since its incipience in Greece, philosophy has found itself in a relation of rivalry with rhetoric. Yet, as rivals, philosophy and rhetoric also have something in common, and make similar claims. What they share, and what thoroughly distinguishes them from the mode of discourse characteristic of the individual sciences, is their title to speak about everything, about all there is. Philosophy and rhetoric feel their competence to be excluded from no subject. But in spite of their common interest, rhetoric and philosophy are separated by an abyss. As Socrates’ attempt to demarcate both discourses in the episode in theTheaetetus...

  19. Notes on Contributors
    (pp. 297-300)
  20. Index
    (pp. 303-312)
  21. Back Matter
    (pp. 313-313)