Cover image for Adieu to Emmanuel Levinas
Adieu to Emmanuel Levinas
Derrida, Jacques.
Personal Author:
Uniform Title:
Adieu à Emmanuel Lévinas. English
Publication Information:
Stanford, Calif. : Stanford University Press, [1999]

Physical Description:
ix, 152 pages ; 22 cm.
Personal Subject:

Format :


Call Number
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B2430.L484 D4513 1999 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks

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This volume contains the speech given by Derrida at Emmanuel Levinas's funeral on December 27, 1995, and his contribution to a colloquium organized to mark the first anniversary of Levinas's death. For both thinkers, the word adieu names a fundamental characteristic of human being: the salutation or benediction prior to all constative language (in certain circumstances, one can say adieu at the moment of meeting) and that given at the moment of separation, sometimes forever, as at the moment of death, it is also the a-dieu , for God or to God before and in any relation to the other. In this book, Derrida extends his work on Levinas in previously unexplored directions via a radical rereading of Totality and Infinity and other texts, including the lesser-known talmudic readings. He argues that Levinas, especially in Totality and Infinity, bequeaths to us an "immense treatise of hospitality," a meditation on the welcome offered to the other. The conjunction of an ethics of pure prescription with the idea of an infinite and absolute hospitality confronts us with the most pressing political, juridical, and institutional concerns of our time. What, then, is an ethics and what is a politics of hospitality? And what, if it ever is, would be a hospitality surpassing any ethics and any politics we know?As always, Derrida raises these questions in the most explicit of terms, moving back and forth between philosophical argument and the political discussion of immigration laws, peace, the state of Israel, xenophobia--reminding us with every move that thinking is not a matter of neutralizing abstraction, but a gesture of hospitality for what happens and still may happen.

Author Notes

Jacques Derrida was born in El-Biar, Algeria on July 15, 1930. He graduated from the École Normal Supérieure in 1956. He taught philosophy and logic at both the University of Paris and the École Normal Supérieure for around 30 years. His works of philosophy and linguistics form the basis of the school of criticism known as deconstruction. This theory states that language is an inadequate method to give an unambiguous definition of a work, as the meaning of text can differ depending on reader, time, and context.

During his lifetime, he wrote more than 40 books on various aspects of deconstruction including Of Grammatology, Glas, The Postcard: From Socrates to Freud and Beyond, and Ulysses Gramophone: Hear Say Yes in Joyce. He died of pancreatic cancer on October 9, 2004 at the age of 74.

(Bowker Author Biography)

Reviews 1

Choice Review

The first part of this book, "Adieu," is a funeral oration delivered by Derrida at the grave of Emmanuel Levinas. The second part, "A Word of Welcome," is an extended excursus on some of the major themes of Totality and Infinity (1969) and a discussion of some of Levinas's lesser-known writings on the Talmud. With a style that readers will recognize, Derrida explores the semantic connections among the words hospitality, host, hostage, and related terms, in what he describes as "a discourse on the ethics and politics of hospitality." The analysis expands to include universal hospitality, which equates to peace, with thoughts on the state of Israel. No book by Derrida can avoid deconstruction of the concepts--a visit can become a visitation, a guest a ghost. "There would be no hospitality without the chance of spectrality." The book is too far ranging to serve as an introduction to Levinas, but this is also its attractiveness. It is not for the philosophically timid, but it rewards close reading with challenging insights on ethics and politics. An index would have been a good supplement to the copious endnotes. Upper-division undergraduate and graduate students; faculty and researchers. D. Stewart; Ohio University

Table of Contents

1 Adieup. 1
2 A Word of Welcomep. 15
Notesp. 127