"The Beast and the Sovereign, Volume II" is the latest entry in the University of Chicago Press' ambitious series of translations of Jacques Derrida's previously unpublished written lectures. Picking up where the previous volume left off, "Volume II" extends Derrida's exploration of the fascinating connections between animality and human sovereignty. In the second part of this seminar, originally presented in 2002-3, Derrida focuses on what at first appear to be two markedly different texts: Heidegger's "The Fundamental Concepts of Metaphysics" and Daniel Defoe's classic novel "Robinson Crusoe". Shuttling back and forth between the two works, Derrida investigates a number of key concepts and provides ingenious interpretations of both texts. Sovereignty remains his primary concern as he reflects on the political history of the dominion of humans over animals in Defoe's England and on diverse readings of "Robinson Crusoe" through the centuries and, in particular, from Heidegger's Germany in the 1930s. Solitude provides another connection between the two books as Derrida links the indivisible uniqueness of a king with Crusoe's solitary plight.
Both consolidating and broadening Derrida's deconstructive critique of sovereignty, "The Beast and the Sovereign, Volume II" is a rich repast, offering everything from striking insights into Heidegger's use of language to surprising digressions that reveal the contours of a lively intellect deeply engaged with the world.
Jacques Derrida (1930-2004) was director of studies at the Ecole des hautes etudes en sciences sociales, Paris, and professor of humanities at the University of California, Irvine. He is the author of many books published by the University of Chicago Press. Geoffrey Bennington is the Asa G. Candler Professor of Modern French Thought at Emory University and the author of numerous works, including Interrupting Derrida.
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