From the Publisher
'Exhaustive and exhilarating.'
'Peeters has ransacked the voluminous Derrida archives and interviewed scores of his friends and colleagues. The result is a marvellously compelling account, lucidly translated by Andrew Brown. The man who emerges from this portrait is an agonised soul with sudden outbreaks of gaiety, an astonishingly original thinker with more than a dash of vanity who nevertheless made himself fully available to the humblest student.'
Terry Eagleton, The Guardian
'Peeters is not a Derridean, but his book has qualities Derrida might have appreciated, above all a supreme patience with intellectual difficulty and abstention from moral judgement. He has done a heroic amount of research, interviewing more than a hundred of Derrida's friends and associates. He also had the co-operation of Derrida's widow, Marguerite. But his principal source of information is Derrida's own writing ... Derrida saved everything he wrote: he regarded every scrap as a 'trace', an almost sacred emblem of survival - and all writing, from poetry to post-its, had philosophical implications. Peeters puts Derrida's professional writing and these traces on an equal footing, using the one to illuminate the other. We see his many sides: a loyal friend and irrepressible seducer; a critic of dogma who couldn't bring himself to admit his own errors; a man who loathed tribalism but was so thin-skinned and so in need of adoration that he ended up leading his own academic tribe.'
London Review of Books
'Peeters has cut through a lot of the myth and mystique surrounding Derrida. There is probably more illuminating information here - and correspondence - than has ever been made public before ... Peeters's Derrida is vulnerable, sensitive, prone to bouts of melancholia, neurotic, hypochondriac, and verging on suicidal. He is as tormented and torn as his prose. This is Derrida the poetic soul.'
'Peeters' poignant Derrida: A Biograghy is - evidently - not an autobiography, yet it is a piece of writing that draws upon Derrida's own auto-biographies; on a life of work that depicts the life as work, as a work in progress, of a life in writing as writing (not to mention Peeters' unprecedented access to Derrida's personal letters and other writings) ... Indeed, the complex relationship between literature and philosophy, for Derrida, is a recurrent theme in the biography, and the struggle between the two, in Derrida's adolescence (which, as he states, "lasted until I was thirty-two"), makes for fascinating reading.'
‘In addressing a philosopher of the importance of Jacques Derrida, whose massive output – about 60 volumes, not including his as yet unpublished seminars – has been translated and debated the world over, Benoît Peeters has quite rightly chosen not the origins or content of the work itself, but the life of the man behind it. In short, he has written an excellent biography entirely in keeping with Anglo-Saxon traditions.’
Elisabeth Roudinesco, The Guardian
'Peeters’ biography humanizes the philosopher in a way that opens up his work in a new way, and most importantly, makes it accessible.'
Philosophy After Dark
'[Peeters] excels at evoking the huge energy and application of the world's most travelled philosopher. If you've ever given up on Derrida, this portrait of him as a lovable, thin-skinned and narcissistic outside in France who shot to fame in the United States should make you reconsider.'
'A real tour de force. Assimilating a vast amount of material – Derrida’s own voluminous publications, unpublished documents and correspondence, and conversations with a host of acquaintances – Benoît Peeters has produced a compelling narrative that sheds light on all aspects of Derrida’s remarkable career.'
Jonathan Culler, Cornell University