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Of Grammatology

3.93  ·  Rating Details  ·  3,656 Ratings  ·  113 Reviews

Jacques Derrida's revolutionary theories about deconstruction, phenomenology, psychoanalysis, and structuralism, first voiced in the 1960s, forever changed the face of European and American criticism. The ideas in De la grammatologie sparked lively debates in intellectual circles that included students of literature, philosophy, and the humanities, inspiring these students

Paperback, 354 pages
Published January 1st 1977 by The Johns Hopkins University Press (first published 1967)
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Apr 10, 2014 Gregsamsa rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This was too hard to understand, therefore it didn't make any sense therefore it is stupid therefore anyone who liked it is stupid therefore I am smarter than anyone who liked it therefore there is a huge conspiracy where well-read educated people are not really either of those things because they responded to this differently therefore definitions of "well-read" and "educated" are totally undermined by therefore being revealed as artificially constructed determinants in the grammar of elite pre ...more
Jun 05, 2012 Tyler rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book gets five stars from me...but this review (which I initially made as a comment to another review), is in response to the Derrida/Searle debate, and the Searle quote that is so often cited as the wooden stake to Derrida's deconstructive heart. Here we go...

Searle willfully misreads Derrida, or at the very least, doesn't take the time to understand his theory properly. The supposed limitation of deconstruction, the idea "that deconstruction deconstructs itself," is a "limitation" that De
Oct 29, 2007 Jamey rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I need a bucket. This is the a-hole through which there has flowed a river of anemic pretentious francophilic crap for three decades. Derrida seems to have little of Foucault's erudition and a strange compulsion to make the same empty gestures over and over again. Everything Schopenhauer said about Hegel applies here (that the guy is a charlatan selling his own image in the guise of a new philosophical language). Maybe other books by Derrida are wonderful; I've only read "Of Spirit," "Limited, I ...more
Aug 15, 2011 Jill rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
well, i read the first chapter, but i have almost no idea what it said even though i tried very hard to know what it was saying. then i went back to read the translator's preface. thanks for nothing, spivak. i'll keep trying.
Mar 22, 2013 Jamie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition

Yes Derrida tends to be a bit verbose and redundant. However once you get past the syntax you will find a philosophy that is deep and inherent in our postmodern society. Sometimes I say to myself while reading this, "why can you just use plain clarification like Ferdinand De Saussure?!" Derrida tends to explain the explanations with more confusion.

I will paraphrase the context here in brevity to help clarify. Foot notes, cliff-notes, other books and lectures served me well with the grappling
Apr 16, 2015 Phillip rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: philosophy
Derrida's Of Grammatology aims to think the structural conditions of possibility which organize the coherence of metaphysical thinking. In this regard, thinking what Derrida labels writing is central. A main point in Of Grammatology however, is that Derrida is speaking of two different sorts of writing: that which writing is traditionally understood to be, that is, marks on a page or writing conceived in the narrower sense Derrida will say, but also, and more centrally in terms of the book's the ...more
Jul 06, 2008 D rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
"Derridean" is one of those words that is evoked with equal frequency as an epithet as it is as a description of a method of analysis. Derrida is a laborious read. Whether this is because he's a bad writer, because he's writing about difficult concepts, because the French academic style of prose is difficult to translate, or, as some would claim, because he is just spouting gibberish, I'm sometimes unsure. Derrida is a restless writer. He creates new concepts and terms only to drop them after a ...more
Dec 05, 2009 Ellen rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I enjoyed reading the other reviews on this book and empathized with those who found Derrida unnecessarily dense. His essay, "Structure, Sign, and Play in the Discourse of the Human Sciences," for example, though important, certainly lacks a riveting prose style.

In my own (possibly simplistic) interpretation, deconstruction works--impossibly, of course--at ground zero. It is an attempt to flatten preconceptions. Derrida explains in Of Grammatology, how Rousseau's writing subverts the nature/cult
anique Halliday
Derrida is difficult. I read this to write a paper on Aretxaga's Shattering Silence and found it to be quite illuminating once I read every sentence four times.
Steven Berbec
May 29, 2016 Steven Berbec rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
How does one write a "review" when the word itself is a "supplement?" To begin writing the review is to say I do not intend on coming back to the text, I do not expect to re-view this book again, so what I am willing to review will "supplant" the "catastrophe" that the text ruptured in my being.

Many have cursed this text (and I'm sure many others before and after) because Derrida evokes a prose that brings many to their wits end. Jacques Lacan with similar complaints about his texts not making
Scott Forward
"The science of linguistics determines language — its field of objectivity — in the last instance and in the irreducible simplicity of its essence, as the unity of the phonè, the glossa, and the logos. This determination is by rights anterior to all the eventual differentiations that could arise within the systems of terminology of the different schools (language/speech [langue/parole]; code/message; scheme/usage; linguistic/logic;
phonology/phonematics/phonetics/glossematics). And even if one wi
Mar 15, 2015 Christopher rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
If you were easily impressed by Socrates getting alot of cred simply for being a troll, you'll find alot to love here.

But otherwise, never before has so little of such small impact been said with so many words, expended from the text like the spore cloud of a dying mushroom.

'Postmodernists parade their relativism as a superior kind of humility — the modest acceptance that we cannot claim to have the truth. In fact, the postmodern denial of truth is the worst kind of arrogance. In denying that th
Apr 29, 2012 Raelene rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Derrida is difficult. But it's almost the difficulty that makes him worth reading. His prose is multi-layered and at times profoundly performative. This text in particular rewards very careful perusal - an idea essential to his project as a whole. Deconstruction for Derrida is about un-building in order to see the elements of language in pieces and thus be better able to grapple with and understand the connections and significations they make as a whole.
Thom Dunn
Aug 24, 2011 Thom Dunn rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: People looking for a reason to end it all.
Recommended to Thom by: Some student--I'm still looking for him.
Shelves: style-as-text
My claim to have read this MoFo is a flat-out lie. What HAS read ? Who indeed CAN read it ? I couldn't finish page one. Can you help me ?
Jan 28, 2014 Joshua rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
:D This book 'Completes' the Nietzschean critique of metaphysics by way of Heidegger. It's extremely repetitious and the author sees himself as a critic of everything but once you get the hang of it it's actually quite fun, and certainly devastating to philosophy. This book has a subversive radical feel that I'm very much attracted to. It's unfortunate that he uses the word 'text' all the time, because it is very definitely a work of philosophy in the Romantic tradition of Hume/Schopenhauer/Niet ...more
Yakut Melikzadeh Akbay
This book is based on both deconstruction that Derrida expands and improves here and construction which he performs after untangling the ideas of both Ferdinand de Saussure and Jean Jacques Rousseau. Derrida reveals the paradoxes existing in both writers' works and the way how they stick to binary oppositions and resting everything upon the centre or origin, which, according to Derrida does not exist at all. Later he acquits that side of binary opposition which has always been othered or, as Der ...more
Dec 29, 2015 Naz rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Derrida is not only frustrating to read but exceptionally dull and abstract. His thoughts are not precisely that hard to get it. The essential issues are pretty straightforward, but he makes it extremely difficult to follow. In any case, I need to say that though textual analysis is a decent strategy, Derrida himself didn't furnish clear printed examinations with adequate references in this work. We would need to peruse long pages with no reference despite the fact that he continues alluding to ...more
Jan 02, 2016 Christopher marked it as to-read
Had to start the review provisionally considering my thoughts here were too long for a goodreads update: will revise.

The pagination of my book is different, so, to clarify, I'm on only on p 14 of the primary text, which begins on page 6 after the Exergue in the Chakravorty Spivak version. Note: Spivak's preface is 79 dense pages!

Here are some of my thoughts thus far:

On the second page of the primary text I find myself both tempted to dismiss Derrida's argument on the basis of his expansion of t
Jul 17, 2009 Bob rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I didn't finish the book. I got to page 289--27 short of the end--and just couldn't go any further. So if there was a brilliant insight located in the last 27 pages, I missed it.

This book was an utter waste of my time. That's not necessarily a reflection on Derrida. It may be that I am an idiot. Either way, I got nothing of value from it, so there's not much more that I can say about it.

My guess is it's Derrida, though. I would suggest you stay away from this book unless 1) you're required to re
Oct 06, 2012 Jay rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: faves
A wonderful exploration of Derrida's early work with an introduction to many notions he will develop in other works (e.g. supplement, trace, etc). The significance of certain portions--such as his exploration of harmony and melody in Rousseau--escaped me. However, in the end, he returns with powerful conclusions about indispensability of representation, the desire for presence (via the image versus via the alphabet), and the West's expanding influence (what we call globalization). However, I'm g ...more
Sep 27, 2014 Michele rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I studied under Jacques Derrida while working on a degree at that Deconstruction-loving university in Southern California. Meh. He smoked a pipe and had a stable of academics worshipping at the altar of The D.

As for this book... If you are a Deconstructionist then it's pretty much your bible. Enjoy. It's not for me.
Mar 29, 2007 Conrad rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: owned, philosophy, pomo
The best way to read this is by skipping Gayatri Spivak's useless and ponderous foreword. The rest is a pretty banal but I guess unique observation on the supplementarity of writing to the spoken word wrapped up in a ton of hackwork. Compared to Limited Inc, this, and Writing and Difference, Derrida's later works are generally more easily comprehended, like Work of Mourning, Acts of Religion, etc. Like Foucault, Derrida enjoyed a late but breathtaking conversion to something like liberalism, and ...more
Doutor Branco
What impressed me most is to realize how far Derrida was from the people of his time.
Nathan "N.R." Gaddis
Mar 26, 2016 Nathan "N.R." Gaddis marked it as i-want-money  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: philosophy
a) Revised 40th Anna Edition.

b) Maybe I really should read it this time. I love this shit.

c) If you've not read this, don't say "deconstruction".

d) If you've not read Husserl, don't say "deconstruction".

e) You like it simple? Derrida does nothing more than continue the Heideggarian project of Destruktion.

f) If you've not read Hegel, you don't know Derrida. Like all those Lit=Crit folks from Yale you like to talk about all the time.

g) This has nothing to do with your Empirical Sciences. Your Empi
David Abrams
Overall Derrida is okay, a little dry at times but not that conceptually hard if you have the time to think on it

My problem with it lies mainly in the misconceptions and misinterpretations surrounding this book, about 90% of the time you see the word "deconstruction" it is used incorrectly
The only other problem is simply it is a pet peeve of mine when philosophers use other's ideas and claim them as their own without citation. Derrida is for the most part good with this, but forgets that many of
Well, I managed to get through this and not die. I don't want to minimize the importance of Derrida on Post-Modernism, and certainly he has some very interesting and influential ideas. But must he always purposely obfuscate? I don't understand the purpose of that. I am not one to shy away from a difficult text, but what purpose is there to obscuring your own meaning? In some ways the writing itself is tongue in cheek and commentary on the whole idea of signifier and signified. It made me smile w ...more
May 11, 2013 Beth rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I had to read this for a critical theory course in graduate school. The impenetrable prose made me want to pull out my hair, and I'm pretty sure the emperor is naked in this case. I only made it through with the help of Harry Potter--a chapter of Derrida and three chapters of The Prisoner of Azkaban.
Considering it's next to impossible to read, I got through more of this book than I ever imagined I would. There's a jumble of genius in there, it's certain, but reading it feels like you're putting puzzle pieces together.

Still, I'd give it 3.5 stars if I could, just for shaking me up a little.
Pat Finn
Nov 30, 2014 Pat Finn rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
this is a book that changes people. after reading it, you will never look at polemics the same again, as you will mistrust all claims that appeal to authenticity. i really think that derrida is the inheritor of the existentialists, except he draws the same conclusions about texts that sartre draws about individuals. texts, like people, are thrown into existence. we don't know exactly where they come from, or what they were supposed to be, so it is up to us to answer these questions ourselves. th ...more
May 30, 2011 Gwen rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The defining work of Deconstruction. This work is also unbelievably hard to approach. I would really only recommend it if you really want to understand deconstruction and if you have texts, background, and a professor to help you understand what is going on. Great work, greatly unapproachable.
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Just Literature: Deconstructivism 6 19 Jun 04, 2014 05:32AM  
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  • Difference and Repetition
  • Écrits
  • The Archaeology of Knowledge & The Discourse on Language
  • S/Z
  • Time and Narrative, Volume 1
  • On Deconstruction
  • The Dialogic Imagination: Four Essays
  • The Postmodern Condition: A Report on Knowledge
  • Truth and Method
  • Being and Event
  • Lenin and Philosophy and Other Essays
  • Totality and Infinity:  An Essay on Exteriority
  • The Ticklish Subject: The Absent Centre of Political Ontology
  • Poetry, Language, Thought
  • Homo Sacer: Sovereign Power and Bare Life
Jacques Derrida was the founder of “deconstruction,” a way of criticizing not only both literary and philosophical texts but also political institutions. Although Derrida at times expressed regret concerning the fate of the word “deconstruction,” its popularity indicates the wide-ranging influence of his thought, in philosophy, in literary criticism and theory, in art and, in particular, architect ...more
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“Il n'y a pas de hors-texte.” 19 likes
“Let us narrow the arguments down further. In certain respects, the theme of supplementarity is certainly no more than one theme among others. It is in a chain, carried by it. Perhaps one could substitute something else for it. But it happens that this theme describes the chain itself, the being-chain of a textual chain, the structure of substitution, the articulation of desire and of language, the logic of all conceptual oppositions taken over by Rousseau…It tells us in a text what a text is, it tells us in writing what writing it, in Rousseau’s writing it tells us Jean-Jacque’s desire etc…the concept of the supplement and the theory of writing designate textuality itself in Rousseau’s text in an indefinitely multiplied structure—en abyme.” 8 likes
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