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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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On Reading Rousseau (1977)

On Reading Rousseau (1977)

(p.77) 7 On Reading Rousseau (1977)
The Paul De Man Notebooks

Martin McQuillan

Edinburgh University Press

In this 1977 essay, Paul de Man talks about Jean-Jacques Rousseau and how he is always being systematically misread. According to de Man, critics are blind with regard to their own insights, of the discrepancy, hidden to them, between their stated method and their perceptions. In the history as well as in the historiography of literature, de Man argues that this blindness can take on the form of a recurrently aberrant pattern of interpretation with regard to a particular writer. This misreading is almost always accompanied by an overtone of intellectual and moral superiority, as if the commentators, in the most favorable of cases, had to apologise or to offer a cure for something that went astray in their author. This essay also discusses Jacques Derrida's reading of Rousseau by analysing the latter's Essai sur l'origine des langues, with particular emphasis on subjects such as language and music.

Keywords:   music, Paul de Man, Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Jacques Derrida, Essai sur l'origine des langues, language

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