Embarrassing ourselves… translations and mental flounderings

A colleague shared this fascinating and perhaps difficult piece in the LARB by the highly regarded Derrida scholar Geoffrey Bennington on the publication of the anniversary edition and revised translation of Of Grammatology by Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak, with a new ‘Introduction’ by Judith Butler. I really encourage anyone with an interest in Derrida’s work, in language and in translation to read this article, I think it’s really quite something.

What is perhaps extraordinary about Bennington’s incisive analysis of the new edition is the acute nature of the problems he reveals with translating Derrida’s insight, which Bennington asserts: “is quite simple, yet in its very simplicity hard to grasp”. For “il n’y a pas de hors-textes is just as apposite to the issues Bennington highlights as it is to the understanding of Derrida’s wider project.

I won’t attempt to précis what is an erudite and rigorous article that also necessarily confronts some perceived (it appears fairly) problems and/or errors in understanding on the parts of Butler and Spivak. In this regard, it’s also worth paying attention to the footnotes

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