The essay sets out to explore in three interrelated thematic scenes or tableaux, and in the light of the increasingly numerous textual crossings between them, how Derrida (J. D.) and Cixous (H. C.) write (self-)portraits of themselves as other in their fictional encounters, one of whose central restagings is the inaugural, asymmetrical first-time meeting "face to back" (H. C. seeing J. D. with his back turned, not seeing her). Working through convoluted threads of linguistic play in French involving seeing (or blindness) [voir], knowing [savoir], (not) having [avoir] and being, the Jew as foreign or other being [autre, être] "to the letter" [lettre], etc., this study analyzes how these textual portraits can be framed within, or read against, a broad philosophical tradition (Descartes, Hegel) linking them to withdrawal [retrait] of being and of themselves as impossible gifts for the other in substitution.


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pp. 65-84
Launched on MUSE
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