- Paperback: 305 pages
- Publisher: Yale University Press; 1st edition (September 10, 1982)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0300028458
- ISBN-13: 978-0300028454
- Product Dimensions: 9.2 x 6.1 x 0.8 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Customer Reviews:
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #434,943 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
Allegories of Reading: Figural Language in Rousseau, Nietzsche, Rilke, and Proust 1st Edition
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From the Back Cover
'Through elaborate and elegant close readings of poems by Rilke, Proust's Remembrance, Nietzsche's philosophical writings and the major works of Rousseau, de Man concludes that all writing concerns itself with its own activity as language, and language, he says is always unreliable, slippery, impossible....Literary narrative, because it must rely on language, tells the story of its own inability to tell a story....De Man demonstrates, beautifully and convincingly, that language turns back on itself, that rhetoric is untrustworthy.' Julia Epstein, Washington Post Book World
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The commentator on De Man's fascism ("Fascism 101")should check the facts. It is well known that de Man was open about his collaborationist past (he was around 20 at the time) and informed the relevant administrators at both Harvard and Yale. Check out Wlad Godzich's essays on de Man's fascism.
Thinking is considered a fiction, too. Having an artificial arrangement for the purpose of intelligibility falls apart when "Considered as persuasion, rhetoric is performative but when considered as a system of tropes, it deconstructs its own performance. Rhetoric is a text in that it allows for two incompatible, mutually self-destructive points of view, and therefore puts an insurmountable obstacle in the way of any reading or understanding." (p. 131). The aporia both generates and paralyzes rhetoric.
Top international reviews
"In the person of Paul De Man the politically correct are forced to confront the true nature of their inhuman philosophy. [...] Deconstructionism became the intellectual shield behind which hides the totalitarian urge."
The obvious response to this is to point out that deconstruction is not a set of methods, or theory that can be 'applied'. 'Deconstionism' does not exist, all 'isms' are contrary to deconstructive ideas. The right attack deconstruction on the grounds of moral relativism being opposed to tradition, with tradition being given priviledge. This of course harks back to a 'golden age' (who's or what golden age?). A golden age where everything was in its right place. Ideas being static, certain people sitting on the right part of the bus. Every generation claims that the generation that came before it was less degenerate, this mythologized utopian past, of course only exists in people's minds.
As for deconstruction being an "intellectual shield behind which hides the totalitarian urge", this is of course ridiculous. Deconstruction opens up and realises the flaws of all partisan politics, whether left, right, centre. Being apolitical does not equate to being right-wing.
Regardless of de Man's past, this book is amazing, and after close reading on numerous occassions, I would argue that there is not hint of facist or totalitarian tendencies within his work.
I can't explain why de Man chose to hide his past, perhaps he was ashamed and new if he revealed it he wouldn't be employed within universities.
I urge you to buy this book if you are involved in reading any form of cultural production (literature, philosophy, visual arts, cultural studies, music, etc.) I would also advise purchasing de Man's 'Resistance to Theory' and Derrida's 'Margins of Philosophy', Martin McQuillan's 'Deconstruction: A Reader' is also excellent.