n French Studies in Southern Africa - Du temps où Derrida était "pour" Mandela, ou les limites de la littérature engagée

Volume 2008, Issue 38
  • ISSN : 0259-0247



In 1986 Jacques Derrida published an essay "Admiration de Nelson Mandela, ou les lois de la réflexion" as part of the collection (For Nelson Mandela), edited by himself and Mustapha Tlili, a work clearly recognizable as . This article sets out to examine the apparent paradox of a "deconstructionist" discourse (generally associated with Derrida), characterized by its refusal to admit a "true" signifier, but which here concerns itself with a signifier generally considered to be as "true" (because he is an icon) as "Nelson Mandela". The article investigates the metonymic play at work in the essay, primarily centered on the metaphors (signifiers) admiration / reflection. It then considers ways in which Derrida integrates the "absolute" signifier of Mandela into history, notably through an occasional personal intervention which to some extent reduces the metaphorical charge, as well as in particular instances of punctuation, thereby indicating certain "limits" of Derrida's engagement "for" Nelson Mandela.

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