Perjury and Pardon: Vol. 1

Univ. of Chicago. Sept. 2022. 368p. ed. by Ginette Michaud & Nicholas Cotton. tr. from French by David Wills. ISBN 9780226819174. $45. PHIL
This new translation of Derrida’s (Of Grammatology) lectures, from the original French recordings, covers 10 talks he delivered on forgiveness and mercy. It’s crucial to read and then re-read the foreword and editors’ notes, as they explain word choices, grammatical preferences, and the format of the transcripts. There are also footnotes, lit guides, and clear headings throughout the volume. Derrida’s tendency towards circumlocution is stylistically explained as the “orality of the text,” as he improvises, repeats, or emphasizes points throughout his in-person lectures. Derrida’s style places an emphasis on the definitions and uses of words as a way to direct students to examine how and what they mean when they speak. Examples from literature, the Bible, and Shakespeare pepper the lectures, plus strong references to Kant, Rousseau, De Man, and Kierkegaard. Arguments against George W. Bush’s death penalty policies will seem dated to modern readers, as will some of the post–World War II references to Nazism, but they still serve to illustrate the principles of Derrida’s lectures.
VERDICT Full of advanced-level philosophical content, this volume is for strong humanities and philosophy collections only.
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