Narrative after Deconstruction

SUNY Press
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Interrogating stories told about life after deconstruction, and discovering instead a kind of afterlife of deconstruction, Daniel Punday draws on a wide range of theorists to develop a rigorous theory of narrative as an alternative model for literary interpretation. Drawing on an observation made by Jean-François Lyotard, Punday argues that at the heart of narrative are concrete objects that can serve as “lynchpins” through which many different explanations and interpretations can come together. Narrative after Deconstruction traces the often grudging emergence of a post-deconstructive interest in narrative throughout contemporary literary theory by examining critics as diverse as Jacques Derrida, Gilles Deleuze, Elizabeth Grosz, and Edward Said. Experimental novelists like Ronald Sukenick, Raymond Federman, Clarence Major, and Kathy Acker likewise work through many of the same problems of constructing texts in the wake of deconstruction, and so provide a glimpse of this post-deconstructive narrative approach to writing and interpretation at its most accomplished and powerful.
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About the author

Daniel Punday is Assistant Professor of English at Purdue University Calumet.

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SUNY Press
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Published on
Feb 29, 2012
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Literary Criticism / American / General
Literary Criticism / Semiotics & Theory
Philosophy / Movements / Deconstruction
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The Animal That Therefore I Am is the long-awaited translation of the complete text of Jacques Derrida's ten-hour address to the 1997 Crisy conference entitled The Autobiographical Animal, the third of four such colloquia on his work. The book was assembled posthumously on the basis of two published sections, one written and recorded session, and one informal recorded session. The book is at once an affectionate look back over the multiple roles played by animals in Derrida's work and a profound philosophical investigation and critique of the relegation of animal life that takes place as a result of the distinction-dating from Descartes-between man as thinking animal and every other living species. That starts with the very fact of the line of separation drawn between the human and the millions of other species that are reduced to a single the animal.Derrida finds that distinction, or versions of it, surfacing in thinkers as far apart as Descartes, Kant, Heidegger, Lacan, and Levinas, and he dedicates extended analyses tothe question in the work of each of them.The book's autobiographical theme intersects with its philosophical analysis through the figures of looking and nakedness, staged in terms of Derrida's experience when his cat follows him into the bathroom in the morning. In a classic deconstructive reversal, Derrida asks what this animal sees and thinks when it sees this naked man. Yet the experiences of nakedness and shame also lead all the way back into the mythologies of man's dominion over the beastsand trace a history of how man has systematically displaced onto the animal his own failings or btises. The Animal That Therefore I Am is at times a militant plea and indictment regarding, especially, the modern industrialized treatment of animals. However, Derrida cannot subscribe to a simplistic version of animal rights that fails to follow through, in all its implications, the questions and definitions of lifeto which he returned in much of his later work.
Contents• Shibboleth: For Paul Celan• “A Self-Unsealing Poetic Text”: Poetics and Politics of Witnessing• Language Does Not Belong: An Interview• The Majesty of the Present: Reading Celan’s “The Meridian”• Rams: Uninterrupted Dialogue—between Two Infinities, the PoemThis book brings together five powerful encounters. Themes central to all ofDerrida’s writings thread the intense confrontation between the most famousphilosopher of our time and the Jewish poet writing in German who, perhapsmore powerfully than any other, has testified to the European experience ofthe twentieth century.They include the date or signature and its singularity; the notion of the trace;temporal structures of futurity and the “to come”; the multiplicity of languageand questions of translation; such speech acts as testimony and promising, butalso lying and perjury; the possibility of the impossible; and, above all, the questionof the poem as addressed and destined beyond knowledge, seeking to speak toand for the irreducibly other.The memory of encounters with thinkers who have also engaged Celan’s workanimates these writings, which include a brilliant dialogue between twointerpretative modes—hermeneutics and deconstruction. Derrida’s approach toa poem is a revelation on many levels, from the most concrete ways of reading—for example, his analysis of a sequence of personal pronouns—to the mostsweeping imperatives of human existence (and Derrida’s writings are alwaysa study in the imbrication of such levels). Above all, he voices the call toresponsibility in the ultimate line of Celan’s poem: “The world is gone,I must carry you,” which sounds throughout the book’s final essay like a refrain. Only two of the texts in this volume do not appear here in English for the first time. Of these, Schibboleth has been entirely retranslated and has been set following Derrida's own instructions for publication in French; "A Self-Unsealing Poetic Text" was substantially rewritten by Derrida himself and basically appears here as the translation of a new text. Jacques Derrida’s most recent books in English translation include Counterpath: Traveling with Jacques Derrida (with Catherine Malabou). He died in Paris on October 8, 2004. Thomas Dutoit teaches at the Université de Paris 7. He translated Aporias and edited On the Name, both by Jacques Derrida.
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