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Derrida's Defence of Paul de Man's Wartime Writings: A Deconstructionist Dilemma

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Derrida's attempt at a defence of Paul de Man's wartime writings put him in a difficult position. Had he remained loyal to his usual deconstructionist practice of interpretation, he would have been unable to defend de Man in a politically effective way. Derrida therefore chose a hybrid form of interpretation that is neither purely deconstructionist nor easily classifiable in any other way. Faced with a case in which a purely deconstructionist reading would not have achieved his aim of minimising the political damage caused by the discovery of de Man's wartime writings, Derrida opted for an interpretive approach which allowed him to read into de Man's texts what he wanted to get out of them, ignoring what seems obvious to less biased readers.

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Document Type: Original Article

Affiliations: Griffith University, Brisbane, Australia

Publication date: February 1, 2000

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