Of Grammatology Fortieth Anniversary Edition
Use the Amazon App to scan ISBNs and compare prices.
Enter your mobile number or email address below and we'll send you a link to download the free Kindle App. Then you can start reading Kindle books on your smartphone, tablet, or computer - no Kindle device required.
To get the free app, enter your mobile phone number.
Frequently bought together
More items to explore
"One of contemporary criticism’s most indispensable works, Of Grammatology is made even more accessible and usable by this new release."(About Education)
"We should be grateful to have this distinguished book in our hands. Very lucid and extremely useful."(New York Review of Books)
"There is cause for rejoicing in the translation of De la grammatologie."(New Republic)
"Reading Derrida was the shock of a decentering, the critical shift into a world of the interminable movement of difference, the crisis of any closure. Of Grammatology was and remains the most tightly worked... and exemplary... demonstration of the science of this shift and crisis."(Canto)
"The tool-kit for anyone who wants to empty the 'presence' out of any text he has taken a dislike to. A handy arsenal of deconstructive tools are to be found in its pages, and the technique, once learnt, is as simple, and as destructive, as leaving a bomb in a brown paper bag outside (or inside) a pub."(Notes and Queries)
"One of the major works in the development of contemporary criticism and philosophy."(J. Hillis Miller, Yale University)
There was a problem filtering reviews right now. Please try again later.
Deconstruction still is hard to define precisely, though I feel you come out of this book with a good intuition for it. In short, it’s something that recognizes that reality is, at least in part, provisional. What does that mean? We need not take reality for granted. What “is” reason, justice, faith, fact, etc? We often do not recognize that the truthful speech (the logos) of this reality came into being because there was the potential for it. In other words, its guarantee is suspect. Deconstruction does not destroy this logos, but realizes that it is built on a “system” that allowed for its existence in the first place (or is it that it recognizes that the logos is a system?) Where I pull away from Derrida is when the logos is relayed in an ethnocentric way. I believe that Truth (beneath and built upon the logos, as such) encompasses all people at all times, because, as Derrida highlights, all life is about relationships between “others”. This paradigm is absolute.
I do not believe Derrida would say words are absolutely meaningless, but are rather useful in their ability to create images by and through memory and/or abstract provocation. Communication comes from being exposed to an other, by the desire/need to convey meaning (“groans beyond words” Romans 8:26). Of course there is the “play” of language where we can engage in text or speech in a new and unconventional way, but this is built upon our “metaphysical” comportment, which Derrida has made his project to expose it as a history. To know anything (epistemology) supposes a recognition of reality as being something that allows itself to be known. We are therefore not reality’s author, but it’s observer.
One break or confusion I have with Derrida is the ambiguity of whether he believes truth is created through or discovered by men. This is perhaps the postmodern conundrum. But this is where the reality of Death becomes useful for Derrida, as it is discovered and experienced absolutely. It stands as an absolute litmus test in determining a productive interpretation. Therefore a “being toward death” stabilizes us in our humble relation to others and our own existence.
The question of a speech/writing origin really doesn’t matter, so long as we realize that that paradigm of communication is provided for as it offers the images of human expression. Derrida sees that our ability to imagine is what makes us most human. Which is only allowed by our relationship to the world, the people around us, and even ourselves. Relationship confirms the otherness of the other. It needs differance: Being revealed in the action of one binary necessarily confirming the other (we would not know light without darkness). What is needed, then, to prevent the fracture of our minds (which are incredibly resilient) is to come back to the logos (John 1:1). That is why deconstruction can never be destruction, rather rendered simply as suspension and (hopefully) the appreciation/gratitude toward our Being as such.
As the decades passed, OF GRAMMATOLOGY came to be seen as THE definitive text of deconstruction (at least among literary types) and this translation became, undoubtedly, quite a cash cow for its publisher. To honor this, John Hopkins Press has issued this handsome revised edition that includes not only a new Afterword by Spivak, but also a new Introduction by Judith Butler.
Forty years ago Spivak's translation and her impressive Preface were greeted with much praise. However, once serious scholars got around to reading the text side by side with the French original, it became clear that Spivak was not as fastidious a translator as one might hope. The Heidegger scholar Thomas Sheehan observed that there were "dozens of mistranslations (sometimes three to a page, some of them howlers) plus misspellings, omissions, and manglings of the Greek" in the first forty pages alone. To remedy this situation, Johns Hopkins Press eventually issued a second edition about a decade ago. That "Corrected Edition" had a cool new cover and even an index, but not so much a page of explanation to tell us who corrected what or where. This handsome "Fortieth Anniversary Edition" also has a new, less cool, cover and boasts that it is a Newly Revised Translation without, alas, telling the reader anything about the revisions.
All that aside, OF GRAMMATOLOGY is a great book, written when Derrida was at the height of his powers. Is it his best book? Not in my opinion. I think WRITING AND DIFFERENCE is livelier, funnier, and more accessible. MARGINS OF PHILOSOPHY has more philosophical heft. Still, for those of you who can only stomach about three hundred pages of Derrida's prose per lifetime, this is the book for you.