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The Paul De Man Notebooks$
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Paul de Man and Martin McQuillan

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9780748641048

Published to Edinburgh Scholarship Online: September 2015

DOI: 10.3366/edinburgh/9780748641048.001.0001

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A Letter from Paul de Man (1982)

A Letter from Paul de Man (1982)

(p.134) 12 A Letter from Paul de Man (1982)
The Paul De Man Notebooks

Martin McQuillan

Edinburgh University Press

In this 1982 letter, published in the journal Critical Inquiry, Paul de Man responds to Stanley Corngold's essay ‘Error in Paul de Man’. According to de Man, he welcomes the opportunity to set the record straight on one specific point: the Friedrich Nietzsche passage which is offered as the main exhibit to establish probable cause of his guilt. This passage, which is part of material ancillary to The Birth of Tragedy but not included in the published text, deals with the altogether Kantian distinction between teleological, intentional judgments which belong to the realm of the intellect, of consciousness, and of discourse, and what Nietzsche calls ‘die Natur der Dinge’, to which such schemes cannot a priori be said to apply. Corngold pointed out a polarity, the distinction between mistake and error, that de Man has not explicitly thematised in these terms. De Man assumes that the most sustained attempt to work out the problem is in the reading of a section of Nietzsche's posthumous fragments in his (de Man) Allegories of Reading, in which ‘can’ is opposed to ‘must’.

Keywords:   letter, Paul de Man, Stanley Corngold, essay, Friedrich Nietzsche, The Birth of Tragedy, die Natur der Dinge, Allegories of Reading

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