Summary: One must go before the other. This inevitability bestows upon the mourner of a friend a further inevitability--to say something and to participate in the codes and rites of mourning. The distinguished French philosopher Jacques Derrida has, like all of us, been forced to wrestle with the complexities of mourning, as his friends and colleagues have passed away before him.
Gathered here are texts--letters of condolence, memorial essays, eulogies, funeral ora ...show moretions--written after the deaths of figures well known in France and in the United States: Roland Barthes, Paul de Man, Michel Foucault, Louis Althusser, Edmond Jabes, Louis Marin, Sarah Kofman, Gilles Deleuze, Emmanuel Levinas, and Jean-Francois Lyotard, as well as Max Loreau, Jean-Marie Benoist, Joseph Riddel, and Michel Serviere. Many of the essays are available in English for the first time, and one, on Lyotard, has never been published before. Each chapter includes an introduction, as well as a biographical sketch of its subject.
With his words, Derrida bears witness to the singularity of a friendship and to the absolute uniqueness of each relationship. In each case, he is acutely aware of the questions of tact, taste, and ethical responsibility involved in speaking of the dead--the risks of using the occasion for one's own purposes, political calculation, personal vendetta, and the expiation of guilt. More than a collection of memorial addresses, this volume sheds light not only on Derrida's relation to some of the most prominent French thinkers of the past quarter century but also on some of the most important themes of Derrida's entire oeuvre--mourning, the "gift of death," time, memory, and friendship itself. ...show less