Magazine May 15, 2017, Issue

Acts of Undermining

Jed Peterson as Paul de Man and Fleur Alys Dobbins as Mary McCarthy in Deconstruction (Michael Abrams)

Discussing Rousseau’s Confessions in his work Allegories of Reading, Paul de Man wrote: “It is always possible to face up to any experience (to excuse any guilt), because the experience always exists simultaneously as fictional discourse and as empirical event and it is never possible to decide which one of the two possibilities is the right one.” This was a pregnant comment, though no one knew it at the time.

By 1979, when Allegories was published, de Man had become the toast of American academia, and his “deconstructionism” a staple of humanities departments. The above was the sort of erudite-sounding twaddle

In This Issue



Books, Arts & Manners

Politics & Policy

Acts of Undermining

Set in the summer and early autumn of 1949, "Deconstruction" reimagines the relationship between Paul de Man, newly arrived in New York City from Belgium, and novelist-critic Mary McCarthy.


Politics & Policy


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The Week

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Politics & Policy


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