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Paul de Man

(1919—1983)


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(1919–83),

American critic, was born in Antwerp. He emigrated to the USA in 1948, and studied at Harvard before following an academic career at Cornell, Johns Hopkins, and Yale. The leading American exponent of deconstruction, he explored with notable rigour the ways in which literary works paradoxically undermine their apparent meanings. He transformed academic analysis of literary Romanticism by discarding the accepted view that Romantic poetry reconciles the human mind with nature. His major works are Blindness and Insight (1971), Allegories of Reading (1979), and Rhetoric of Romanticism (posthumous, 1984). With the discovery, after his death, of articles he had written during the German occupation of Belgium (one of them tainted by anti‐Semitic remarks), opponents of deconstruction seized upon these as evidence of a supposed moral deficiency in a critical method practised 40 years later by de Man and his (mostly Jewish) associates.

Subjects: Literary Studies (20th Century onwards).


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