Who Was Jacques Derrida? (Hardcover)

An Intellectual Biography

By David Mikics

Yale University Press, 9780300115420, 296pp.

Publication Date: December 1, 2009

Other Editions of This Title:
Paperback (10/26/2010)

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Who Was Jacques Derrida? is the first intellectual biography of Derrida, the first full-scale appraisal of his career, his influence, and his philosophical roots.  It is also the first attempt to define his crucial importance as the ambassador of "theory," the phenomenon that has had a profound influence on academic life in the humanities. Mikics lucidly and sensitively describes for the general reader Derrida's deep connection to his Jewish roots. He succinctly defines his vision of philosophy as a discipline that resists psychology. While pointing out the flaws of that vision and Derrida’s betrayal of his most adamantly expounded beliefs, Mikics ultimately concludes that “Derrida was neither so brilliantly right nor so badly wrong as his enthusiasts and critics, respectively, claimed." 

About the Author

David Mikics is professor of english at the University of Houston. He published his last book, A New Handbook of Literary Terms, with Yale University Press.

Praise For Who Was Jacques Derrida?: An Intellectual Biography

"David Mikics is the real thing, a gifted, polymathic reader. Writing not as a polemicist but as a humane, interpretive critic, he cuts right through the raging conflicts and often pointless debates about Derrida's work."—Morris Dickstein, CUNY Graduate Center

— Morris Dickstein

"David Mikics's portrait of Jacques Derrida has a colossal value for poets and dreamers like myself. It's a lucid and sober presentation of a thinker who influenced so strongly huge parts of American literary mind."—Adam Zagajewski

— Adam Zagajewski

"A concise study that...seks a middle path between the 'intense celebration and intense scorn' that Derrida inspired when he was alive."--Benjamin Ivry, Foreward

— Benjamin Ivry