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Reading and Responsibility

Deconstruction's Traces

Derek Attridge

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What is the importance of deconstruction, and the writing of Jacques Derrida in particular, for literary criticism today? Derek Attridge argues that the challenge of Derrida's work for our understanding of literature and its value has still not been fully met, and in this book, which traces a close engagement with Derrida's writing over two decades and reflects an interest in that work going back a further two decades, shows how that work can illuminate a variety of topics.

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1. Deconstruction Today
2. Singularities, Responsibilities: Derrida, Deconstruction, and Literary Criticism
3. Following Derrida
4. The Impossibility of Ethics
5. Arche-Jargon
6. Deconstruction and Fiction
7. Posthumous Infidelity: Derrida, Levinas and the Third
8. Roland Barthes's Obtuse, Sharp Meaning and the Responsibilities of Commentary
9. Nothing to Declare: J. Hillis Miller and Zero's Paradox
10. The Place of Deconstruction: a dialogue with Jean-Michel Rabaté
11. Coetzee's Artists, Coetzee's Art.

About the Author

Derek Attridge is Professor of English at the University of York and a Fellow of the British Academy. He is the author or editor of numerous books on literary theory, James Joyce, poetic form, and South African writing. Born in South Africa, he has taught in Britain, the U.S.A., France, and Italy. He edited Jacques Derrida's Acts of Literature, and his recent books include The Singularity of Literature and J. M. Coetzee and the Ethics of Reading.


'This wonderful book admirably displays Derek Attridge's special gifts as a reader: clarity, learning, and penetrating understanding. It contains some of the best essays ever written about what is distinctive in Derrida's thinking.'

J. Hillis Miller, University of California at Irvine


'Over the past forty years, Derek Attridge has engaged, quite possibly more meticulously than anyone else, with the work and thought of Jacques Derrida. In this book, he presents us with many of the richest fruits of that work of love. Through his abiding care for the working of language, he reminds us just how exacting, how adventurous, how serious and how deeply responsive Derrida could be to the words and potential meanings of others.'

Thomas Docherty, University of Warwick

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