Legacies of Paul de Man
Reading, Begging, Paul de Man
Jan Mieszkowski, Reed College
1 Only in the
last sentence of the story is it (at least apparently)
revealed that this "certain German book" refers to the
Hortulus Animæ, a prayer manual that was
popular in both its Latin and German editions in the
sixteenth century. This clarification is offered
indirectly, when the narrator says of the text that the
"worst heart of the world is a grosser book" than it
2 From this perspective, we would have to question Rodolphe Gasché's statement that in de Man "literariness, writing, and the text are understood according to the model of a conscious subjectivity, that is, of a self-reflexive presence" (55). Werner Hamacher moves in this direction when he writes,
The language of allegory relates itself to language not reflexively but rather as an epistemologically uncertain praxis: language relates to itself in the mode of possible unrelatedness. If allegory thematizes the unreadability of texts, it can do so only because, in an epistemological paradox, it becomes the praxis of reading, of an other reading, of allegorical reading. It can make clear their intransparency only to the degree that it increases their readability. (187)
translation is based on the German original (Sembdner
2: 196-98) with extensive reference to the English versions
provided by Constantine (Selected Writings 351-53)
and Luke and Reeves (The Marquise 214-16).
Although the OED states that the etymology of "glitch" is
unknown, it probably comes from the Yiddish glitsh
("a slip, lapse"), which derives from the Middle High
German glitschen ("to glide").
his reading of Shelley, de Man argues something similar:
"The undoing of the representational and iconic function of
figuration by the play of the signifier does not
suffice to bring about the disfiguration which The
Triumph of Life acts out or represents"
(Rhetoric 114—emphasis added).