Phrase

SUNY Press
Free sample

 The first complete English translation of Lacoue-Labarthe’s most innovative and original work, exploring the very origins of experience, language, desire, and mortality.
Philippe Lacoue-Labarthe (1940–2007) is widely acknowledged in his native France and in the English-speaking world as one of the most important philosophers of his generation and an exceptionally rigorous reader of Heidegger, Hölderlin, Benjamin, Blanchot, and Celan. An astute thinker of the political and a far-reaching and decisive analyst of the place of theater and music in Western metaphysics, Lacoue-Labarthe also had another, clandestine passion for something called “poetry” or “literature,” though he would remain deeply suspicious of these words. Phrase is his most original work, a sequence of texts both autobiographical and philosophical, written in lucid prose and in free verse over a period of more than twenty-five years.

Published here in its entirety for the first time in English, Phrase is a profoundly moving meditation on the relationship between love and mortality, language and embodiment, writing and inspiration, memory and hope, loss and recompense, and music and silence. At its heart is a probing awareness of the mysterious gift of language itself, and of the perpetually elusive yet obsessive “phrase” that informs all human existence and provides the book with its lapidary title and distinctive signature. This translation also includes a postface by Jean-Christophe Bailly, one of Lacoue-Labarthe’s most long-standing friends and interlocutors, and incorporates a number of translator’s notes that will facilitate access to Lacoue-Labarthe’s sometimes allusive writing. There is no better introduction to Lacoue-Labarthe’s thought than Phrase, and no more compelling proof of the enduring significance of his thinking than this uniquely powerful text.
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About the author

 Leslie Hill is Emeritus Professor of French Studies at the University of Warwick, United Kingdom. His many books include Radical Indecision: Barthes, Blanchot, Derrida, and the Future of Criticism.

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Additional Information

Publisher
SUNY Press
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Published on
Oct 1, 2018
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Pages
124
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ISBN
9781438471105
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Language
English
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Genres
LITERARY CRITICISM / European / French
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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Read Aloud
Available on Android devices
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Eligible for Family Library

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In February 1988, philosophers Jacques Derrida, Hans-Georg Gadamer, and Philippe Lacoue-Labarthe came together in Heidelberg before a large audience to discuss the philosophical and political implications of Martin Heidegger's thought. This event took place in the very amphitheater in which, more than fifty years earlier, Heidegger, as rector of the University of Freiburg and a member of the Nazi Party, had given a speech entitled "The University in the New Reich." Heidegger's involvement in Nazism has always been, and will remain, an indelible scandal, but what is its real relation to his work and thought? And what are the responsibilities of those who read this work, who analyze and elaborate this thought? Conversely, what is at stake in the wholesale dismissal of this important but compromised twentieth-century philosopher? In 1988, in the wake of the recent publication of Victor Farias's Heidegger and Nazism, and of the heated debates that ensued, these questions had become more pressing than ever. The reflections presented by three of the most prominent of Heidegger's readers, improvised in French and transcribed here, were an attempt to approach these questions before a broad public, but with a depth of knowledge and a complex sense of the questions at issue that have been often lacking in the press. Ranging over two days and including exchanges with one another and with the audience, the discussions pursed by these major thinkers remain highly relevant today, especially following the publication of Heidegger's already notorious "Black Notebooks," which have added another chapter to the ongoing debates over this contested figure. The present volume recalls a highly charged moment in this history, while also drawing the debate toward its most essential questions.
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