Paul de Man - literary critic, literary philosopher, "American deconstructionist" - changed the landscape of criticism through his rigorous theories and writings. Upon its original publication in 1988, Christopher Norris' book was the first full-length introduction to de Man, a reading that offers a much-needed corrective to the pattern of extreme antithetical response which marked the initial reception to de Man's writings.
Norris addresses de Man's relationship to philosophical thinking in the post-Kantian tradition, his concern with "aesthetic ideology" as a potent force of mystification within and beyond that tradition, and the vexed issue of de Man's politics. Norris brings out the marked shift of allegiance in de Man's thinking, from the thinly veiled conservative implications of the early essays to the engagement with Marx and Foucault on matters of language and politics in the late, posthumous writing. At each stage, Norris raises these questions through a detailed close reading of individual texts which will be welcomed by those who lack any specialised knowledge of de Man's work.
Table of Contents
1. Allegories of Disenchantment: Poetry and Politics in de Man's Early Essays 2. De Man and the Critique of Romantic Ideology 3. Deconstruction and Philosophy: Some Analytic Bearings 4. Aesthetic Ideology and the Ethics of Reading: Miller and de Man 5. Against a new Pragmatism: Law Deconstruction and the Interests of Theory 6. "The Temptation of Permanence" 7. Postscript: On de Man's Early Writings in Le Soir
'His grasp of the historical and philosophical dimensions of the styles and arguments of contemporary literary theory is quite extraordinary and illuminating.' - N. Lukacher, University of Illinois at Chicago