Responses: On Paul de Man's Wartime Journalism

By Werner Hamacher; Neil Hertz et al. | Go to book overview

On Paul de Man's Collaborationist Writings
STANLEY CORNGOLD

"You have not enough respect for the written word and you are altering the story."... "You are the prison chaplain," said K.

I commend Werner Hamacher, Neil Hertz, and Tom Keenan for circulating the newspaper articles that Paul de Man wrote in I94I and 1942. There is, however, something about the way they characterize these articles that I must reject immediately. They speak of "texts, chiefly on literary and cultural topics, [which] at times take up the themes and idiom of the discourse promulgated during the Occupation by the Nazis and their collaborators." 1 But it isn't "texts" that are at stake. Nor do texts by themselves enigmatically "take up" "themes and idioms." Such a way of putting things can only serve to veil rhetorically a moral event. 2In the perspective of Hamacher-Hertz-Keenan, de Man's texts in 1941-1942 merely repeated certain phrases from the speeches of Nazi hacks. But such a view of de Man's collaborationist writings takes for granted the very thing to be proved. It assumes the position that now needs most defending: namely, de Man's conception of the mere contingency of the personal intention vis-à-vis the literary work, and his way of endowing texts with the attributes of persons even while undertaking to unmask all anthropomorphizing strategies elsewhere.It is this very claim of the irresponsibility of textual production that is jeopardized by the early pieces, which were written by an actual person, Paul de Man, and flow from a moral choice. That an authorial personality needs to vanish in order for texts to come about is a familiar article of de Man's theory. But in Belgium and in post-War America, de Man evidently did not want to vanish. He was determined to constitute and preserve himself as the moral personality he had been, by writing. If anything was supposed to vanish, it would have been his war‐ time journalism, since its public disclosure would have given his "second birth" a quick quietus.The evidence of de Man's collaboration urgently raises two questions. The first is a matter of historical reconstruction. What were de Man's intentions at the time he wrote his anti‐ Semitic and collaborationist articles? The second is the question concerning de Man's subsequent literary-critical writings and the change which these disclosures will produce in the way readers will read his work.We should know from the start the kind of work we are dealing with. I quote from an article in Le Soir published on March 4, 1941; it is entitled "The Jews in Contemporary Literature." In the matter of the novel, writes de Man,
Jewish writers [in France] have always been second rate.... This finding (constation) is comforting for Western intellectuals: that they have been able to safeguard themselves from Jewish influence in a domain as representative of culture as literature proves their vi

Notes for this page

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items
Notes
Cite this page

Cited page

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Note: primary sources have slightly different requirements for citation. Please see these guidelines for more information.

Cited page

Bookmark this page
Responses: On Paul de Man's Wartime Journalism
Table of contents

Table of contents

Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this book

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen
Items saved from this book
  • Bookmarks
  • Highlights & Notes
  • Citations
/ 477

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Search by... Author
    Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.