Reviews of An Event Perhaps
The life of Jacques Derrida has never been told as elegantly or engagingly as it is in Peter Salmon’s new book. Salmon realises, as nobody else has until now, how the life and the philosophy are dialectically braided. In delightfully readable, often laconic prose, Salmon helped me to understand Derrida as never before and demonstrated why he is not, as some detractors called him, the Devil but much more cherishable. A wonderful book.
This is a compulsively readable intellectual biography of Derrida that teases out his endlessly fascinating thought, even when it is at its knottiest, with admirable patience and lucidity. Salmon’s book, in vividly transmitting the intellectual excitement of Derrida’s times, reminds the reader that, especially in his thinking about ethics, he remains a philosopher who is urgently, politically relevant to our times too.
Today, ‘postmodernism’ has become the go-to explanation across a range of political opinion for all sorts of contemporary ills. But what if the philosophers so often blamed for undermining standards of truth and objectivity were pointing out a problem, rather than causing it? Peter Salmon’s clear-sighted, engaging guide to Derrida’s life and ideas is an excellent way to learn about how one of the twentieth century’s most complex thinkers continues to influence our world.