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Jews and the Ends of Theory$
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Shai Ginsburg, Martin Land, and Jonathan Boyarin

Print publication date: 2018

Print ISBN-13: 9780823282005

Published to Fordham Scholarship Online: May 2019

DOI: 10.5422/fordham/9780823282005.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM FORDHAM SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.fordham.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Fordham University Press, 2019. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in FSO for personal use.date: 20 October 2019

The Last Jewish Intellectual: Derrida and His Literary Betrayal of Levinas

The Last Jewish Intellectual: Derrida and His Literary Betrayal of Levinas

(p.88) Chapter 4 The Last Jewish Intellectual: Derrida and His Literary Betrayal of Levinas
Jews and the Ends of Theory

Sarah Hammerschlag

Fordham University Press

This chapter examines Jacques Derrida as a Jewish intellectual, locating in his work expressions of his identity as an intellectual and as a Jew. It applies insights from Derrida's philosophy of literature to his relationship with Emmanuel Levinas, probing the similarities and differences in their experience of these identities. Derrida's ambivalence toward Jewish community, in particular that aspect that imposes obligations and makes claims, was not separate from his awareness of familial overtones in his relationship with Levinas. Although Derrida discussed his Jewishness in various ways and contexts, it was through Levinas that he did and did not identify with the category of Jewish intellectual. In recounting a pair of anecdotes reported by Derrida, in which he revealed private comments made to him by Levinas, the chapter then exposes in the closeness of their relationship the operation of secrecy and betrayal, and the role of irony in constructing and subverting intimacy.

Keywords:   Derrida, Jewish intellectual, Jew, Emmanuel Levinas, Jewish community, Jewishness

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