Geoff Bennington on the new edition of Of Grammatology

Bennington’s essay sadly matched my own feelings when I received the book a couple of weeks ago: I checked the places that were notorious for mistranslation and they were still there again, though Bennington has gone beyond the call of duty to look at the intro and Spivak’s new afterward as well as the translation of the first chapter and more. What to do? It’s obvious that students will be stuck with this translation and its pagination, even as I want to take my return and allow me better purchases. Bennington’s essay has a great title that gives a nice kick when you get the punchline. This is really too bad and I trust Bennington as a great translator of Derrida. The essay is also good on why this translation can be misleading in terms of recent realisms–a real benefit. Also, it’s notable that the Derrida Seminars Translation Project (DSTP) team, which includes Bennington, Peggy Kamuf, Elizabeth Rottenberg, Michael Naas, Pascale-Anne Brault, and David Wills and manages the translation of Derrida’s previously unpublished courses and seminars, has written to Johns Hopkins University Press to request that this new edition of the Grammatology be withdrawn. These are not bomb throwers and Johns Hopkins has at least once before “embarrassed us” with an edition it claimed was “revised” in 1997. And also, since I was in the course where Michael Naas introduced his and Brault’s translation of Voyous (Rogues), I find Spivak’s need to mis-un?-translate the original quotes from that text in the afterword somewhat telling. No doubt, we often see translation wars with each new Heidegger, Foucault, Levinas, or other text and so on: a lot of it is so much spitting at people doing difficult, if not impossible work on Derrida’s and Bennington’s own terms. But Bennington leaves the reader who ordered the text–I would give more import to Butler’s essay than he–feeling as she should: having a new text with different pagination that can’t or shouldn’t stand as the standard.

Source: Embarrassing Ourselves – The Los Angeles Review of Books


  1. Reblogged this on Progressive Geographies and commented:
    Peter Gratton links to and discusses Geoff Bennington’s long review of the revised translation of Derrida’s Of Grammatology. Some interesting discussion of the process of translation along the way.

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