Stéphane Chalier is a young Belgian who, pushed by a struggle with his father over his life and intellectual ambitions, leaves his family behind to wander the United States. The pretence for his departure is that he is going to write his thesis about “Hölderlin in America”, but instead he begins a nomadic lifestyle involving brief bouts of manual labor. Stéphane is unable to escape the appellation of “petit romantique!” his father, a renowned academic, used to deride him. He is equally haunted by his father’s constant refrain that Stéphane was unable to find his path. As he finds and loses his path in America, his reflections on his past and present are linked directly or indirectly to the physical landscape through which he wanders, at first alone and later with a new family.
Originally published in French in 1964, Le Parjure represents in fiction the life of celebrated literary theorist Paul de Man. Thomas's novel was the subject of Derrida’s essay ‘Le Parjure, Perhaps’, which is also reprinted in this critical edition of the novel. Martin McQuillan attempts to separate fact from fiction, while considering the persistence of de Man as a character in fiction, both during his life (in Le Parjure and in Mary McCarthy’s In The Groves of Academe) and posthumously (in Bernhard Schlink’’s Die Heimkehr [The Home Coming], John Banville’s Shroud, Gilbert Adair’s The Death of the Author, the television series Signs and Wonders, and arguably Evelyn Barish’s recent biography, The Double Life of Paul de Man). What is it about de Man’s personality, personal history and work that leads to such fascination on the part of creative practitioners? The volume also includes essays by J. Hillis Miller, Ellen Burt and Tom Cohen, who explore the Thomas novel in relation to Derrida’s essay and recent de Man scholarship.
Perjury / 'La Parjure, Perhaps', Jacques Derrida / Paul de Man: Fact and Fiction, Martin McQuillan / Critical Essays by J. Hillis Miller, Ellen Burt and Tom Cohen / Bibliography
Henri Thomas (1912-1993) was a French novelist, poet, translator and critic who authored some 21 works of fiction and numerous volumes of essays, reportage and poetry. He lived in Paris, London and in America, working with notable intellectuals such as Gide and Paulhan.
Angela Hunter, Associate Professor of English, University of Arkansas at Little Rock
Angela Hunter is Chair of the Department of English and Philosophy at the State University of Arkansas (Little Rock). She is the author of numerous essays on Derrida, psychoanalysis, and eighteenth-century French literature.
Martin McQuillan, Professor
Martin McQuillan is Professor of Literary Theory and Cultural Analysis and Dean of the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences at Kingston University, UK, where he is also Co-Director of The London Graduate School. He is a literary theorist, cultural critic and author and editor of many books and essays, including Roland Barthes (or the profession of cultural studies) (Palgrave, 2011), Deconstruction After 9/11 (Routledge, 2009) and Deconstruction Reading Politics (Palgrave, 2008).