Of Hospitality (Cultural Memory in the Present) (Paperback)

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In an extended meditation on Levinas’s theory of the subject as both host and hostage, Derrida performs two thrilling lectures on the notion of hospitality for the other. The lectures are, by themselves, highly recommended reading for those trying to think about ethics and foreignness, but are also presented with then-student Anne Dufourmantelle’s response on the verso pages, making for a thrillingly inventive reading experience that performs its call and response as it calls to us to respond.

— Kyle


These two lectures by Jacques Derrida, Foreigner Question and Step of Hospitality/No Hospitality, derive from a series of seminars on hospitality conducted by Derrida in Paris, January 1996. His seminars, in France and in America, have become something of an institution over the years, the place where he presents the ongoing evolution of his thought in a remarkable combination of thoroughly mapped-out positions, sketches of new material, and exchanges with students and interlocutors.

As has become a pattern in Derrida's recent work, the form of this presentation is a self-conscious enactment of its content. The book consists of two texts on facing pages. Invitation by Anne Dufourmantelle appears on the left (an invitation that of course originates in a response), clarifying and inflecting Derrida's response on the right. The interaction between them not only enacts the hospitality under discussion, but preserves something of the rhythms of teaching.

The volume also characteristically combines careful readings of canonical texts and philosophical topics with attention to the most salient events in the contemporary world, using hospitality as a means of rethinking a range of political and ethical situations. Hospitality is viewed as a question of what arrives at the borders, in the initial surprise of contact with an other, a stranger, a foreigner. For example, Antigone is revisited in light of the question of impossible mourning; Oedipus at Colonus is read via concerns that also apply to teletechnology; the trial of Socrates is brought into conjunction with the televised funeral of Fran ois Mitterrand.

Praise For…

"Of Hospitality provides us with a glimpse of Jacques Derrida as not only the brilliant thinker and writer readers have long admired but as the masterful lecturer and pedagogue his students have long known. . . . Of Hospitality should find a welcome audience not only among faithful readers of Derrida but among all those who are open enough to hear the knock at their borders or their doors."—L'Esprit Créateur

"Both lectures [in the book] deserve credit not only for representing a significant step in Derrida's reflection on ethics and politics but also for prompting us to begin our own deconstructive work and rethink our identity."—Symploke

Product Details
ISBN: 9780804734066
ISBN-10: 0804734062
Publisher: Stanford University Press
Publication Date: September 1st, 2000
Pages: 176
Language: English
Series: Cultural Memory in the Present