Derrida: A Biography

Adam Shatz writes:

Peeters, whose previous book was a biography of Hergé, the creator of Tintin, is not a Derridean, but his book has qualities Derrida might have appreciated, above all a supreme patience with intellectual difficulty and abstention from moral judgment. He has done a heroic amount of research, interviewing more than a hundred of Derrida’s friends and associates. He also had the co-operation of Derrida’s widow, Marguerite. But his principal source of information is Derrida’s own writing: some eighty books, as well as the many letters and journals in archives in France and at the University of California, Irvine, where he taught for many years. Derrida saved everything he wrote: he regarded every scrap as a ‘trace’, an almost sacred emblem of survival – and all writing, from poetry to post-its, had philosophical implications. Peeters puts Derrida’s professional writing and these traces on an equal footing, using the one to illuminate the other.

(LRB 22 November 2012)

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