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The Wild Card of Reading

The Wild Card of Reading

On Paul de Man

Rodolphe Gasché

ISBN 9780674952966

Publication date: 09/30/1998

One of the most knowledgeable and provocative explicators of Paul de Man's writings, Rodolphe Gasché, a philosopher by training, demonstrates for the first time the systematic coherence of the critic's work, insisting that de Man continues to merit close attention despite his notoriously difficult and obscure style. Gasché shows that de Man's "reading" centers on a dimension of the texts that is irreducible to any possible meaning, a dimension characterized by the "absolutely singular."

Given that de Man and Derrida are both termed deconstructionists, Gasché differentiates between the two by emphasizing Derrida's primary interest in "writing," and postulates that the best way to come to terms with de Man's works is to "read" them athwart the writings of Kant, Fichte, Hegel, Heidegger, and Derrida. He shows his respect for the "immanent logic" of de Man's thought--which he lays out in great detail--while revealing his uneasiness at the oddness of that thought and its consequences.


  • Gasche has to be applauded for his patient exposition of de Man and his detailed arguments both for and against his theory of reading. Ultimately, this spirited deference of de Man raises many questions about the ethics of theory as the Pinochet affair does about British justice.

    —Gary Day, Times Higher Education Supplement [UK]


  • Rodolphe Gasché is Eugenio Donato Professor of Comparative Literature at the State University of New York at Buffalo.

Book Details

  • 610 pages
  • 6-1/8 x 9-1/4 inches
  • Harvard University Press

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