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Derrida: A Biography (Paperback)Benoit Peeters
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This biography of Jacques Derrida (1930 2004) tells thestory of a Jewish boy from Algiers, excluded from school at the ageof twelve, who went on to become the most widely translated Frenchphilosopher in the world a vulnerable, tormented man who,throughout his life, continued to see himself as unwelcome in theFrench university system. We are plunged into the different worldsin which Derrida lived and worked: pre-independence Algeria, themicrocosm of the Ecole Normale Superieure, the cluster ofstructuralist thinkers, and the turbulent events of 1968 and after.We meet the remarkable series of leading writers and philosopherswith whom Derrida struck up a friendship: Louis Althusser, EmmanuelLevinas, Jean Genet, and Helene Cixous, among others. Wealso witness an equally long series of often brutal polemics foughtover crucial issues with thinkers such as Michel Foucault, JacquesLacan, John R. Searle, and Jurgen Habermas, as well as severalcontroversies that went far beyond academia, the best known ofwhich concerned Heidegger and Paul de Man. We follow a series ofcourageous political commitments in support of Nelson Mandela,illegal immigrants, and gay marriage. And we watch as a concept deconstruction takes wing and exerts anextraordinary influence way beyond the philosophical world, onliterary studies, architecture, law, theology, feminism, queertheory, and postcolonial studies.
In writing this compelling and authoritative biography,Benoit Peeters talked to over a hundred individuals who knewand worked with Derrida. He is also the first person to makeuse of the huge personal archive built up by Derrida throughout hislife and of his extensive correspondence. Peeters bookgives us a new and deeper understanding of the man who will perhapsbe seen as the major philosopher of the second half of thetwentieth century.
Publisher: Polity Press