Jacques Derrida (born 1930) is undoubtedly the single most influential figure in current Anglo-American literary theory. Yet many scholars and students, not to mention general readers, would be hard put to give an account of Derrida’s own writings. In this admirably clear and intelligent introduction, Christopher Norris demonstrates that Derrida’s texts should be understood as belonging more to philosophy than to literature. Norris explains the significance of Derrida’s writing on texts in the Western philosophical tradition, from Plato to Kant, Hegel, and Husserl, placing him squarely within that tradition. He also discusses some of the reasons for the massive institutional resistance that has so far prevented philosophers from engaging seriously with Derrida’s work. This book will be welcomed by readers in search of an introduction to Derrida’s work that neither underrates its difficulties nor invests his ideas with a kind of protective mystique.
Derrida should continue to be read. And whether one initially classifies Derrida’s work as ‘literature’ or as ‘philosophy’ is less important than that he be appreciated as the sort of writer whose originality forces us to throw away old taxonomies and come up with new ones. Norris’ thoughtful book will help people appreciate that originality.
Norris organizes his book around Derrida’s writings on Plato, Hegel, Saussure, Rousseau, Kant, Austin, Freud, and Foucault. He shows how Derrida reads the philosophers not as voices in historical time but as writers whose texts interact both in their own historical time and in the vertical time frame of reason and the dictionary… Norris has done what not even Derrida has been able to do very well; explain Derrida.
Excellent… Norris displays a command of philosophy from Kant to the present…[and is] a major contemporary interpreter of deconstruction… Norris has succeeded admirably in presenting a careful, reliable, and very readable general introduction to the thought of Derrida.
A really fine account of Derrida’s philosophical project… The prose is clear and jargon-free, unlike so many other books on Derrida… The book will be extremely useful to a wide range of readers.
Norris writes a study that is at once a general introduction and an original contribution to a debate among specialists… Norris’s discussion of Derrida’s political and ethical dimension, setting the record straight in the face of the most damaging case against Derrida, is perhaps the most important contribution made to the international debate surrounding poststructuralism in any of Norris’s published works.
- 272 pages
- 5-1/2 x 8-1/4 inches
- Harvard University Press
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