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Of Grammatology

3.95  ·  Rating details ·  4,455 ratings  ·  136 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 ...more
Paperback, Corrected ed., 456 pages
Published 1997 by Johns Hopkins University Press (first published 1967)
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3.95  · 
Rating details
 ·  4,455 ratings  ·  136 reviews

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Jul 11, 2013 rated it it was amazing
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
Oct 03, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Deconstruction is simply freeing our minds from the sticky spider webs of modern hype.

These webs are built by tropes. Tropes range from the benign to the deadly. Movies and novels are the more benign type of trope - as long as they’re taken as mere entertainment.

Rhetorical tropes, though, can start wars. They’re also insidious ear worms. And they can deftly confuse us.

The most deadly, of course, are the physical tropes. They can be, for some, the trigger of traumatic memories. To employ them to
Oct 27, 2007 rated it did not like it
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
Jun 05, 2012 rated it it was amazing
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
Apr 26, 2008 rated it really liked it
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 rated it really liked it

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
Nathan "N.R." Gaddis
Mar 26, 2016 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
Aug 25, 2012 rated it it was amazing
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
Jun 10, 2011 rated it really liked it
no one realizes that there is a significance to the fact that rousseau preferred jerking off to having sex.
Nov 09, 2009 rated it liked it
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
Steven Berbec
Sep 27, 2015 rated it it was amazing
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
Yakut Melikzadeh Akbay
Nov 13, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: jacques-derrida
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
Mar 23, 2007 rated it liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
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.
Scott Forward
Jan 03, 2013 rated it liked it
"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 29, 2007 rated it it was ok
Shelves: pomo, owned, philosophy
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
Apr 29, 2012 rated it really liked it
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.
Sep 06, 2012 rated it it was amazing
A definitive classic. Don't let philosophical conservatives deter you from reading this book. It may be a challenge, but it changed the rules and redefined the limits of what philosophy is in the Western tradition. A must read!
Thom Dunn
Nov 03, 2009 rated it did not like it
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 ?
Oct 03, 2012 added it
Shelves: f
Dear Derrida i must give up
If I could just get through the Introduction..
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
Jacob Aitken
First, what Derrida is not saying. He is not saying "Everything is relative." He is not saying, "There are no absolutes." That's what the American university professor believes, but that's not Derrida. So in one swoop 99% of Conservative Culture Warrior criticisms of "postmodernity" are false.

French Postmodernism is not as difficult as it may appear. Derrida does a good job in defining his terms, and as long as we keep those definitions present, much of what he says is not only coherent, but qui
Naz Anais
Nov 16, 2015 rated it liked it
Derrida is not only frustrating to read but exceptionally dull and abstract. His thoughts are not that hard to understand. 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 read long pages with no reference despite the fact that he continues alluding to the wor ...more
Dec 24, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
thank god for this bookshelf so i can take my time coming back to this. one of the concepts from saussure that continues to pester me regards how the sign's arbitrariness proves its motivation. i get that the subject is the object, but how does the aleatoric express intent? the last half the book is strictly thinking with rousseau (writing an origin story about writing origins) to unpack the metaphysical baggage of enlightenment anthropologisms regarding binarisms and the fantasy of presence. th ...more
Jul 17, 2009 rated it did not like it
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
Mar 15, 2015 rated it did not like it
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
May 19, 2010 rated it it was amazing
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
Jan 28, 2014 rated it really liked it
: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
May 11, 2013 rated it did not like it
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.
Sep 27, 2014 rated it it was ok
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.
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Deliberate Obfuscation? 1 4 Jan 08, 2019 10:49PM  
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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
“Il n'y a pas de hors-texte.” 25 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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