He Says Both

Jacques Derrida’s famous dictum “il n’y a pas de hors-texte” has often been misinterpreted and mistranslated— or so at least say many know-it-all Derrida interpreters. “He did not mean there is nothing outside the text,” they tell us. These protestations sometimes take on a somewhat comic hue. Thus John Llewelyn writes, “Derrida does not say… Il n’y a rien hors du texte.” This is a somewhat comical way of putting things, since Derrida does say exactly that six pages after the passage on which Llewelyn is commenting. In context: « Si nous considérons, selon le propos axial de cet essai, qu’il n’y a rien hors du texte, notre ultime justification serait donc la suivante : le concept de supplément et la théorie de l’écriture désignent, comme on dit si souvent aujourd’hui, en abyme, la textualité elle-même dans le texte de Rousseau. » (De la grammatologiep. 233)


3 thoughts on “He Says Both

  1. In grad school, I was assigned to translate a passage of Derrida into Attic Greek in the style of Plato. I found it easier to translate directly from the French rather than from the English translation, even though I had not yet studied French.


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