Paul de Man
December 6, 1919|
|Died||December 21, 1983
New Haven, Connecticut, U.S.A.
Paul de Man (born Paul Adolph Michel Deman: December 6, 1919, Antwerp – December 21, 1983, New Haven, Connecticut) was a Belgian-born literary critic and literary theorist. At the time of his death, de Man was one of the best-known literary critics in the United States - known particularly for his importation of German and French philosophical approaches into Anglo-American literary studies and critical theory. Along with Jacques Derrida, he was part of the an influential critical movement that went beyond traditional interpretation of literary texts to reflect on the epistemological difficulties inherent in any textual, literary, or critical activity. This approach aroused considerable opposition, which de Man attributed to "resistance" inherent in the difficult enterprise of literary interpretation itself.
De Man began his teaching career at Bard College. In the late 1950s he completed his Ph.D. at Harvard University, then taught at Cornell University, Johns Hopkins University, and the University of Zurich, ending up on the faculty in French and Comparative Literature at Yale University, where he was considered part of the Yale School of Deconstruction. At the time of his death from cancer, he was Sterling Professor of the Humanities and chairman of the Department of Comparative Literature at Yale. De Man oversaw the dissertations of Gayatri Spivak (at Cornell), Barbara Johnson (at Yale), Samuel Weber (at Cornell), and many other noted scholars.
After his death, a researcher uncovered some two hundred previously unknown articles de Man had written in his early twenties for Belgian collaborationist newspapers during World War II, five of them implicitly and one explicitly anti-Semitic. These, in combination with explosive revelations about his domestic life and financial history, caused a scandal and provoked a reconsideration of his life and work.
Paul de Man was born in Antwerp, Belgium, to a prominent and cultivated upper-class Flemish family. His paternal great-grandfather had been the noted Flemish Poet, Jan Van Beers, and the family also maintained a continuing interest in French literature. His uncle Hendrik de Man was a famous socialist theorist and politician. Paul's father, Robert ("Bob") de Man, was a successful businessman whose firm manufactured X-ray equipment. Over the family's opposition, "Bob" married his first cousin, Paul's mother, Madeleine de Braey.
Madeleine first pregnancy with Paul's older brother Henrik ("Rik"), which coincided with the German bombings of World War I, strained her fragile mental health and the stillbirth of a daughter a two years later, pushed her into a seemingly permanent suicidal depression. She had to be watched constantly. The family walked on eggshells and "Bob" de Man found solace with other women. In contrast to his older brother, Rik, who did poorly in school and was socially backward, Paul de Man dealt with his difficult home life by becoming a brilliant student and accomplished athlete. He was among the few Flemish-speaking boys admitted to the prestigious and highly competitive Royal Athenaeum of Antwerp, where he followed his father's career path in choosing to study science and engineering, receiving top marks in mathematics. 1936 Rik's car was struck by a train while parked at a railroad crossing, killing him instantly. The following year, Paul, then seventeen, discovered the body of his mother, who had hanged herself on the anniversary of her son's death.
That fall Paul enrolled in the Free University of Brussels. He wrote for student magazines and continued to take courses in science and engineering. For stability he turned to his uncle Hendrik as a patron and surrogate emotional father, sometimes telling people Hendrik was his real father and his real father was his uncle. He also fathered a son with Romanian-born Anaïde Baraghian, the wife of his landlord. Baraghian left her husband to marry Paul, and the couple went on to have two more sons.
In 1940, when the Nazis occupied Belgium, Paul and his wife attempted to flee into Spain but were turned back at the Spanish border. Uncle Hendrik, whose views had been moving ever rightward, for his part welcomed the Nazi invaders, whom he saw as essential for instituting his brand of socialism, and became, for a year, de facto puppet Prime Minister of Belgium under the Nazis. Hendrik used his influence to secure his nephew a position writing cultural criticism for Le Soir, the largest Belgian French-language newspaper, and the Flemish daily Het Vlaamsche Land, both violently anti-Semitic and under Nazi control. As a cultural critic, Paul would contribute hundreds of articles and reviews, a sprinkling of them overtly anti-semitic, to these publications. Most of his writings, however, were artfully evasive about matters political; and he maintained friendships with individual Jews.
In 1942, Uncle Hendrik, mistrusted by his fellow collaborators on the right and marked for death as a traitor by the Belgian Resistance, took refuge in Paris (whence he would later flee to Savoy and then to Switzerland). Paul, possibly realizing his job was becoming dangerous, resigned from newspaper work in November 1942. Two months later, a fellow cultural critic at Le Soir would be assassinated by a member of the Resistance.
De Man spent the rest of the war in seclusion doing literary translations. He would be interrogated but not charged after the war. His translation of Moby Dick into Flemish was published in 1945. Subsequently, using money borrowed from wealthy relatives, he embarked on an ambitious and expensive publishing scheme, living lavishly the while, leading to bankruptcy and lawsuits. Uncle Hendrik, who would be tried and convicted in absentia for treason, died in Switzerland in 1953, after crashing his car into an oncoming train, an accident that was almost certainly a suicide.
In 1948, in the wake of his publishing fiasco and pending criminal charges, de Man left Belgium and was able to enter New York. Baraghian, however, who had no work permit, sailed with their three young sons to Argentina where her parents had recently emigrated. Paul found work stocking books at the Doubleday Bookstore at New York City's Grand Central Station. There he befriended Dwight MacDonald, a key figure on the New York intellectual and literary scene. At MacDonald's apartment de Man met the beautiful and celebrated novelist Mary McCarthy. De Man persuaded his newfound friends that he had been a French resistance fighter who had spent the war in England doing translations. Taken with his knowledge of literature and blond good looks, McCarthy recommended de Man to Artine Artinian, a professor of French at Bard College, as a temporary replacement while Artinian spent the academic year of 1949–50 in France as a Fulbright fellow. "De Man was to teach Mr. Artinian's courses, advise Mr. Artinian's advisees, and move into Mr. Artinian's house. By December , de Man had married one of the advisees, a French major named Patricia Kelley and when the first Mrs. de Man turned up with her three young boys, Hendrik, Robert, and Marc, in the spring of 1950, Patricia de Man [sic] was pregnant." De Man persuaded the devastated Baraghian to agree to a divorce and to let Kelly's parents raise the eldest boy while she took the younger ones back to Argentina, with a promise of child support that was never to be honored.
This period in de Man's life, heavily fictionalized, formed the basis of Henri Thomas's 1964 novel Le Parjure (The Perjurer). De Man and his partner Kelly underwent a second marriage ceremony in August 1960, when his divorce from Baraghian was finalized and then a third one in Ithaca. They had one more child, a son, and remained together until de Man's death.
Artinian, upset at de Man's habit of bouncing checks and accusing him of "petty thievery and chicanery", saw to it that de Man's contract at Bard was not renewed. A student newspaper at Bard attempted to summarize the gist of de Man's final lecture, entitled "The Morality of Literature", delivered in June, 1951:
"Like the esthetic act, moral systems are wasteful in that they acquire to spend. Moral systems are by their very nature destructive. They are unserious in that they are liable to change and, in order to certify themselves, are forced to travel to their limit, expending energy value on the way. Upon arriving at their limit, moral systems decay and become stagnant. Therefore, history is not continuous, but a discrete system in that there must be a rejection of the past in order to invent the validity of the different present."
De Man, Kelly, and their baby daughter fled to Bard for Boston, where, after a stint teaching at Berlitz, De Man enrolled as a doctoral student in comparative literature at Harvard, having forged passing marks on his Brussels Free University transcript.. One of his professors at Harvard was the eminent scholar of Romanticism, M. H. Abrams, who (like de Man) would later move to Cornell. (Abrams would later became a severe critic of deconstructionism.) In 1954 someone sent Harvard an anonymous letter denouncing de Man as a wartime collaborator and questioning his immigration status. De Man returned to Europe – supposedly to deal with his passport situation – and on his return managed to sneak off the boat without papers while INS officials were distracted by a group of drunken Hungarians. After successfully persuading Harvard that his status was in order, De Man took his Harvard general exams, flunking the first try and doing abysmally on the second. Nevertheless, because of his manifest brilliance and ability to court influential people, de Man was awarded a prestigious appointment at the Harvard Society of Fellows, but was not offered a teaching position. During the 1960s de Man taught at Cornell University, where he became known as a mesmerizing teacher and innovative thinker and acquired a loyal following of disciples, several of whom (Samuel Weber and Gayatri Spivak, for example) went on to careers as literary and cultural theorists.
In 1966, de Man attended a conference on structuralism held at Johns Hopkins University, where Jacques Derrida delivered his celebrated essay "Structure, Sign, and Play in the Discourse of the Human Sciences". The two became close friends. Both would be identified with Deconstruction, with De Man's version reflecting the influence primarily of Heidegger and deployed primarily in studying Romanticism, both English and German, as well as French literature, specifically the works of William Wordsworth, John Keats, Maurice Blanchot, Marcel Proust, Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Friedrich Nietzsche, Immanuel Kant, G.W.F. Hegel, Walter Benjamin, William Butler Yeats, Friedrich Hoelderlin and Rainer Maria Rilke.
Following an appointment in Zurich, de Man returned to the United States in the 1970s to teach at Yale University. At the time of his death of cancer at age 64 he was a Sterling Professor and chairman of the department of comparative literature at Yale. His critical methods having influenced every English department in the country.
Contributions to Literary Theory
Although de Man's work in the 1960s differs from his later deconstructive endeavors considerable continuity can also be discerned. In his 1967 essay "Criticism and Crisis" he argues that because literary works are understood to be fictions rather than factual accounts, they exemplify the break between a sign and its meaning: literature "means" nothing, but critics resist this insight: "When modern critics think they are demystifying literature, they are in fact being demystified by it. But since this necessarily occurs in the form of a crisis, they are blind to what takes place within themselves. What they call anthropology, linguistics, psychoanalysis, is nothing but literature reappearing like the hydra's head in the very spot where it had been suppressed. The human mind will go through amazing feats to avoid facing 'the nothingness of human matters'." De Man would later observe that, due to this resistance to acknowledging that literature does not "mean", English departments had become "large organizations in the service of everything except their own subject matter" ("The Return to Philology"), as the study of literature became the art of applying psychology, politics, history, philology or other disciplines to the literary text, in an effort to make the text "mean" something.
Among the central threads running through de Man's work is his attempt to tease out the tension between rhetoric (which de Man's uses to mean figural language and trope) and meaning, seeking out moments in the text where linguistic forces "tie themselves into a knot which arrests the process of understanding." De Man's earlier essays from the 1960s, collected in Blindness and Insight, represent an attempt to seek out these paradoxes in the texts of New Criticism and move beyond formalism. One of De Man's central topoi is of the blindness on which these critical readings are predicated, that the "insight seems instead to have been gained from a negative movement that animates the critic's thought, an unstated principle that leads his language away from its asserted stand. . . as if the very possibility of assertion had been put into question." Here de Man attempts to undercut the notion of the poetic work as a unified, atemporal icon, a self-possessed repository of meaning freed from the intentionalist and affective fallacies. In de Man's argument, formalist and New Critical valorization of the "organic" nature of poetry is ultimately self-defeating: the notion of the verbal icon is undermined by the irony and ambiguity inherent within it. Form ultimately acts as "both a creator and undoer of organic totalities," and "the final insight...annihilated the premises which led up to it."
In Allegories of Reading, de Man further explores the tensions arising in figural language in Nietzsche, Rousseau, Rilke, and Proust. In these essays, he concentrates on crucial passages which have a metalinguistic function or metacritical implications, particularly those where figural language has a dependency on classical philosophical oppositions (essence/accident, synchronic/diachronic, appearance/reality) which are so central to Western discourse. Many of the essays in this volume attempt to undercut figural totalization, the notion that one can control or dominate a discourse or phenomenon through metaphor. In de Man's discussion of Nietzsche's The Birth of Tragedy, for instance, he claims that genetic conceptions of history appearing in the text are undercut by the rhetorical strategies Nietzsche employs: "the deconstruction does not occur between statements, as in a logical refutation or a dialectic, but happens instead between, on the one hand, metalinguistic statements about the rhetorical nature of language and, on the other hand, a rhetorical praxis that puts these statements into question." For de Man, an "Allegory of Reading" emerges when texts are subjected to such scrutiny and reveal this tension; a reading wherein the text reveals its own assumptions about language, and in so doing dictates a statement about undecidability, the difficulties inherent in totalization, their own readability, or the "limitations of textual authority."
De Man is also known for his readings of English and German romantic and post-romantic poetry and philosophy (The Rhetoric of Romanticism) and concise and deeply ironic essays. Specifically noteworthy is his critical dismantling of the Romantic ideology and the linguistic assumptions which underlie it. His arguments follow roughly as follows. First, de Man seeks to deconstruct the privileged claims in Romanticism of symbol over allegory, and metaphor over metonymy. In his reading, because of the implication of self-identity and wholeness which is inherent in the Romantics' conception of metaphor, when this self-identity decomposes, so also does the means of overcoming the dualism between subject and object, which Romantic metaphor sought to transcend. In de Man's reading, to compensate for this inability, Romanticism constantly relies on allegory to attain the wholeness established by the totality of the symbol.
In addition, in his essay "The Resistance to Theory", which explores the task and philosophical bases of literary theory, de Man uses the example of the classical trivium of grammar, rhetoric, and logic to argue that the use of linguistic sciences in literary theory and criticism (i.e. a structuralist approach) was able to harmonize the logical and grammatical dimension of literature, but only at the expense of effacing the rhetorical elements of texts which presented the greatest interpretive demands. He posits that the resistance to theory is the resistance to reading, thus the resistance to theory is theory itself. Or the resistance to theory is what constitutes the possibility and existence of theory. Taking up the example of the title of Keats' poem The Fall of Hyperion, de Man draws out an irreducible interpretive undecidability which bears strong affinities to the same term in Derrida's work and some similarity to the notion of incommensurability as developed by Jean-François Lyotard in The Postmodern Condition and The Differend. De Man argues that the recurring motive of theoretical readings is to subsume these decisions under theoretical, futile generalizations, which are displaced in turn into harsh polemics about theory.
Influence and legacy
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De Man's mesmerizing personality impressed all who knew him. His influence on literary criticism was considerable, in part through his numerous and vocal disciples. Although much of his work brought to bear insights on literature drawn from German philosophers such as Kant and Heidegger, De Man also closely followed developments in contemporary French literature, criticism, and theory
Much of de Man's work was collected or published posthumously. His book, Resistance to Theory was virtually complete at the time of his death. In 1996 a collection of essays edited by his former Yale colleague Andrzej Warminski was published by the University of Minnesota Press under the title, Aesthetic Ideology.
Wartime journalism and Posthumous Controversies
In 1988, Ortwin de Graef, a Belgian graduate student at the University of Louvain, discovered some two hundred articles de Man had written during World War II for Le Soir. That year a conference on Paul de Man took place at the University of Antwerp. "On the last day, Jean Stengers, a historian at the Free University of Brussels, addressed a topic pointedly titled: "Paul de Man, a Collaborator?" Then Georges Goriely, professor emeritus of sociology at the Free University of Brussels, rose to deliver what he called "A Personal Testimony":
M. Goriely began by extolling de Man, whom he had known intimately in his youth, as "a charming, humorous, modest, highly cultured" homme de lettres renowned in Belgian literary circles during their youth. Then the professor dropped his bombshell. De Man, he asserted, wasn't all that he appeared to be. He was "completely, almost pathologically, dishonest," a crook who had bankrupted his family. "Swindling, forging, lying were, at least at the time, second nature to him."
The European press was in an uproar. "There were stories in La Quinzaine Litteraire, the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, The (Manchester) Guardian. Newsweek juxtaposed a photograph of de Man with another of Nazis on the march. Le Soir itself spoke of ' 'a Waldheim academique'."
De Man's disciples attempted to portray the attacks on de Man as a cover for his critics' dislike of Deconstruction, alleging that the attacks were a ruse that used Man's youthful errors as evidence of what they considered the decadence at the heart of the Continental thought behind de Man and his theories. The controversies quickly spread from the pages of scholarly journals to the broader media. The Chronicle of Higher Education and the front page of the New York Times exposed the sensational details of de Man's personal life, particularly the circumstances of his marriage and his difficult relationships with his children.
In the most controversial and explicitly anti-semitic essay from this war-time journalism, titled “Jews in Contemporary Literature,” (1941) de Man described how "[v]ulgar anti-semitism willingly takes pleasure in considering post-war cultural phenomenon (after the war of 14-18) as degenerate and decadent because they are [enjewished]." He notes that "Literature does not escape this lapidary judgement: it is sufficient to discover a few Jewish writers under Latinized pseudonyms for all contemporary production to be considered polluted and evil. This conception entails rather dangerous consequences ... it would be a rather unflattering appreciation of western writers to reduce them to being mere imitators of a Jewish culture which is foreign to them." The article went on to claim that contemporary literature had not broken from tradition as a result of the First World War and that "the Jews cannot claim to have been its creators, nor even to have exercised a preponderant influence over its development. On any closer examination, this influence appears to have extraordinarily little importance since one might have expected that, given the specific characteristics of the Jewish Spirit, the later would have played a more brilliant role in this artistic production." The article concluded that “our civilization... [b]y keeping, in spite of semitic interference in all aspects of European life, an intact originality and character... has shown that its basic character is healthy." It concluded that "the creation of a Jewish colony isolated from Europe" as “a solution to the Jewish problem” (probably referring to a suggested Jewish colony in Madagascar, but not to Hitler's Final Solution, which was not widely known at this early period) would not entail any "deplorable consequences" for "the literary life of the west." This is the only known article in which de Man pronounced such views so openly, though two or three other articles also accept without demurral the disenfranchisement and ostracization of Jews, as some contributors to Responses have noted.
De Man's colleagues, students, and contemporaries attempted to come to grips with both his early writings and his subsequent silence about them in the volume Responses: On Paul de Man's Wartime Journalism (edited by Werner Hamacher, Neil Hertz, and Thomas Keenan; Nebraska, 1989). His longtime friend, Jacques Derrida, who himself was Jewish, published a long piece responding to De Man's critics, declaring that “To judge, to condemn the work or the man on the basis of what was a brief episode, to call for closing, that is to say, at least figuratively, for censuring or burning his books is to reproduce the exterminating gesture which one accuses de Man of not having armed himself against sooner with the necessary vigilance. It is not even to draw a lesson that he, de Man, learned to draw from the war.” That seemed to some readers to draw an objectionable connection between criticism of de Man and extermination of the Jews.
In recent years some of de Man's followers, many of them, like Derrida, also Jewish, have pointed out that de Man at no time in his life displayed personal animus against Jews. Shoshana Felman, recounted that "about a year after the journalistic publication of his compromising statement, he and his wife sheltered for several days in their apartment the Jewish pianist Esther Sluszny and her husband, who were then illegal citizens in hiding from the Nazis. During this same period, de Man was meeting regularly with Georges Goriely, a member of the Belgian Resistance. According to Goriely's own testimony, he never for one minute feared denunciation of his underground activities by Paul de Man." Nevertheless, his disciples and defenders have failed to agree about the nature of de Man's silence about his wartime activities. His critics, on the other hand, point out that throughout his life de Man was not only passively silent but also engaged in an active coverup through lies and misdirections about his past.
New Biography: 2014
In 2014 Evelyn Barish published a new biography, The Double Life of Paul de Man, the result of nearly twenty-five years of archival research and interviews with friends and colleagues. Barish exposes de Man as having been guilty from his youth of a lengthy catalog of acts of sheer incompetence, forgeries, and frauds (she reveals that just after leaving Belgium – or being spirited out by his mortified father in 1948, he was sentenced in absentia to six years in prison for embezzlement). In an advance review of Barish's biography in Harpers Magazine, Christine Smallwood concluded that de Man turns out to have been:
a slippery Mr. Ripley, a confidence man, and a hustler who embezzled, lied, forged, and arreared his way to intellectual acclaim. (Oh, and he was a bigamist, too.) Anyone who is inclined to the notion, as I am, that criticism is a mode of autobiography, as I am, will find provocative connections between de Man's cobwebby life and his theoretical vocabulary of aporia, abîme, irony, and instability.
Another advance reviewer, Tom Bartlett wrote, "The portrait that emerges from the book is of a deeply dishonest, bizarrely reckless man who manages to charm and bully his way to the pinnacle of intellectual life in the United States, all while covering up a shameful and even criminal past."
- Allegories of Reading: Figural Language in Rousseau, Nietzsche, Rilke, and Proust (ISBN 0-300-02845-8), 1979.
- Blindness and Insight: Essays in the Rhetoric of Contemporary Criticism. 2nd ed. (ISBN 0-8166-1135-1), 1983.
- The Rhetoric of Romanticism (ISBN 0-231-05527-7), 1984.
- The Resistance to Theory (ISBN 0-8166-1294-3), 1986.
- Wartime Journalism, 1934–1943 (ISBN 0-8032-1684-X) eds. Werner Hamacher, Neil Hertz, Thomas Keenan, 1988.
- Critical Writings: 1953-1978 (ISBN 0-8166-1695-7) Lindsay Waters (ed.), 1989.
- Romanticism and Contemporary Criticism: The Gauss Seminar and Other Papers (ISBN 0-8166-1695-7) eds. E. S. Burt, Kevin Newmark, and Andrzej Warminski, 1993.
- Aesthetic Ideology (ISBN 0-8166-2204-3) ed. Andrzej Warminski, 1996
- The Post-Romantic Predicament, Martin McQuillan, editor (ISBN 9780748641055), 2012 [de Man's dissertation, collected with other writings from his Harvard University years, 1956-1961].
- The Paul de Man Notebooks, Martin McQuillan, editor (ISBN 978-0748641048), forthcoming 2014.
Selected secondary works
- Smallwood, Christine. "New Books". Harpers Magazine (March, 2014), pp. 77–78. This review of Evelyn Barish's exhaustively researched new biography depicts de Man as a con artist who falsified virtually every aspect of his curriculum vitae.
- Barish, Evelyn. The Double Life of Paul de Man. Liveright. 2014.
- Colebrook, Claire, Paul de Man, Tom Cohen, and J. Hillis Miller. Theory and the Disappearing Future: On de Man, On Benjamin. New York: Routledge. 2012. Includes de Man's notes for "Conclusions: on The Task of the Translator".
- MacKenzie, Ian. Paradigms of Reading: Relevance Theory and Deconstruction. Palgrave. 2002.
- Cohen, Tom, Barbara Cohen, J. Hillis Miller, Andrzej Warminski, Editors. Material Events: Paul de Man and the Afterlife of Theory. University of Minnesota Press, 2000. Essays on Aesthetic Ideology.
- Gasché, Rodolphe. The Wild Card of Reading. Harvard University Press. 1998.
- Caruth, Cathy, and Deborah Esch, Editors. Critical Encounters: Reference and Responsibility in Deconstructive Writing. Rutgers. 1995.
- Sosnoski, James J. Modern Skeletons in Postmodern Closets: A Cultural Studies Alternative (Knowledge : Disciplinarity and Beyond). University of Virginia Press. 1995.
- De Graef, Ortwin. Titanic Light: Paul de Man's Post-Romanticism. University of Nebraska Press. 1995.
- De Graef, Ortwin. Serenity in Crisis: A Preface to Paul de Man, 1939-1960. University of Nebraska Press. 1993.
- Jameson, Frederic. Postmodernism, or The Cultural Logic of Late Capitalism. Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 1991. pp. 217–59.
- Bradbury, Malcolm. "The Scholar Who Misread History". New York Times, February 24, 1991. Review of Lehman, "Deconstruction and the Fall of Paul De Man.
- Lehman, David. Signs of the times: Deconstruction and the Fall of Paul de Man. Poseidon Press. 1991.
- Waters, Lindsay, and Wlad Godzich. Reading de Man Reading. University of Minnesota Press. 1989.
- Derrida, Jacques. Memoires for Paul de Man. Columbia University Press. 1989.
- Weiner, Jon. "The Responsibilities of Friendship: Jacques Derrida on Paul de Man's Collaboration." Critical Inquiry 14 (1989): 797-803.
- Hertz, Neil, Werner Hamacher, and Thomas Keenan, Editors. Responses to Paul de Man's Wartime Journalism. 1988.
- Norris, Christopher. Paul de Man: Deconstruction and the Critique of Aesthetic Ideology Routledge. 1988.
- Barish, Evelyn (2014). The Double Life of Paul de Man. Liveright. p. 3.
- de Man, Paul. “The Resistance to Theory,” in The Resistance to Theory, University of Minnesota Press
- Barish, Evelyn (2014). The Double Life of Paul de Man. Liveright. pp. 43–6.
- "Christine Smallwood, "New Books", Harpers Magazine (March, 2014), pp. 77-78.
- James Tuttleton, "Quisling criticism: the case of Paul de Man: a review of David Lehman, Signs of the Times: Deconstruction & the Fall of Paul de Man," New Criterion, April 1991.
- James Atlas, "The Case of Paul de Man", New York Times, August 28, 1988. See also Peter Rudnytsky, "Rousseau's Confessions, De Man's Excuses," in Autobiography, Historiography, Rhetoric and Frank Kermode, “Paul de Man’s Abyss,” London Review of Books, March 16, 1989.
- Atlas, "The Case of Paul de Man", 1988.
- David Lehman, “Paul de Man: The Plot Thickens,” New York Times, May 24, 1992.
- Tom Bartlett, "Paul de Man's Many Secrets," Chronicle of Higher Education, Oct. 21, 2013.]
- Lindsay Waters. "Paul de Man: Life and Works." Introduction to Paul de Man, Critical Writings: 1953-1978. Ed. Lindsay Waters. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press. 1989. lxiv. See also Jacques Derrida, "Le Parjure: Perhaps, Storytelling and Lying", pp. 161–201, in Without Alibi (Stanford University Press, 2002).
- "Christine Smallwood, "New Books", Harpers Magazine (March, 2014), p. 78.
- As a widow, Kelly admitted to having been puzzled by her late husband's habit of staring into the mirror, not just for a few minutes, but for hours (Bartlett, "Paul de Man's Many Secrets" ).
- David Lehman, "Paul de Man: The Plot Thickens, New York Times.
- quoted in David Lehman, "Paul de Man: The Plot Thickens, New York Times.
- Smallwood, "New Books" (2014), p. 78.
- "Criticism and Crisis" 18 in Blindness and Insight. The phrase "nothingness of human matters" – le néant des choses humaines – is from a well-known passage about the imagination from Rousseau's Julie ou La Nouvelle Héloïse (VI: VIII), which asserts that human happiness lies only in desire and not fulfillment: "The world of illusions is the only one worth inhabiting. Such is the vanity of human matters, outside the realm of the Self-Created Being, that nothing here is beautiful but what is not."
- de Man, Paul, "Shelley Disfigured", in Bloom, Harold, et al. Deconstruction and Criticism (New York, Continuum: 1979) 44.
- See de Man, Paul, Blindness and Insight: Essays in the Rhetoric of Contemporary Criticism (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1971).
- de Man, Paul, "The Rhetoric of Blindness", Blindness and Insight, 103.
- de Man, Paul, "The Rhetoric of Blindness", Blindness and Insight, p. 104.
- See de Man, Paul, Allegories of Reading (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1979).
- de Man, Allegories of Reading, 98.
- de Man, Allegories of Reading, 99.
- See de Man, "The Rhetoric of Temporality", Blindness and Insight.
- For facsimiles of the articles, see Warner Hamacher, Neil Hertz and Thomas Keenan, eds., Wartime Journalism 1939-1943 by Paul de Man (Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1988).
- James Atlas,"The Case of Paul de Man", 1988.
- James Atlas, The Case of Paul de Man, 1988.
- Jacques Derrida, “Like the Sound of the Sea Deep within a Shell: Paul de Man’s War”, Critical Inquiry 14 (Spring 1988), 597-98.
- ”Yale Scholar Wrote for Pro-Nazi Newspaper”, New York Times, Dec. 1, 1987, p. 1.
- Paul de Man. "The Jews in Contemporary Literature." Originally published in Le Soir (March 4, 1941), Martin McQuillan, translator, in Martin McQuillan, Paul de Man. USA ( Routledge. 2001), pp. 127–29.
- ”Les Juifs dans la litterature actuelle” appears in the same issue, p. 45.
- Jacques Derrida, “Like the Sound of the Sea Deep within a Shell: Paul de Man’s War”, Critical Inquiry 14 (Spring 1988), 590-65; quote from 651; see also the “Critical Responses” in Critical Inquiry 15 (Summer 1989, 765-811) and Derrida’s reply, “Biodegradables: Seven Diary Fragments”, 812-873.
- See, for example, Jon Wiener, “The Responsibilities of Friendship”, Critical Inquiry 15 (Summer 1989): 797.
- Shoshana Felman, "Paul de Man's Silence", Critical Inquiry 15: 4 (Summer, 1989): 704-744
- Smallwood, "New Books" pp. 77–78.
- Bartlett, "Paul de Man's Many Secrets" (2013).
- Guide to the Paul de Man Papers. Special Collections and Archives, The UC Irvine Libraries, Irvine, California.
- Guide to the Neil Hertz Papers on Paul de Man. Special Collections and Archives, The UC Irvine Libraries, Irvine, California.
- UCIspace @ the Libraries digital collection: Paul de Man manuscripts, circa 1973-1983
- Johns Hopkins Guide to Literary Theory