International Journal of Humanities and Social Science Research

Paul de Man: Too Demanding to Dismantle Pages 13-2888x31
Evelin Barish’s The Double Life of Paul de Man and its US Reception

Dimitar Kambouro


Published: 11 Februray 2016

Open Access

Abstract:What should we think of a biographer who admits inability to understand the ideas of the thinker she writes about? Why write a biography of someone not only dead but also proclaimed forgotten (unless one intends to resurrect him, which is not the case)? Why dig up someones bones only to showcase his skeleton amidst the closets dirty linen? Why confine oneself to the preliminary part of someones life the one preceding his academic biography?

Paul de Mans recent biography by Evelin Barish raises these and more questions and eyebrows. Surprisingly, however, it has elicited a largely positive response in the US. Why were intellectuals like Louis Menand, Peter Brooks, Susan Rubin Suleiman and others so cautious and humble in their lengthy reviews?

This text will suggest some possible answers.

Keywords: Deconstruction, theory, collaborationism, antisemitism, biography.

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