Introduction: Broken promises: Rousseau, de Man and Watergate

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingForeword/postscript


It was on working with Rousseau that I felt I was able to progress from purely linguistic analysis to questions which are really already of a political and ideological nature. (RT 121): On sabbatical from Yale University, Paul de Man spent the academic year 1973–74 in Zurich, where he had until 1970 held the Chair of Comparative Literature. The product of this sabbatical was the manuscript entitled Textual Allegories, an extended reading of the question of figurality in Rousseau, which was to provide the material for several published articles and later the second half of the last monograph published in de Man's lifetime, Allegories of Reading. Textual Allegories is then a draft of the thinking that will become synonymous with de Man and what is both correctly and so-problematically called ‘American deconstruction’. The shape of Textual Allegories follows exactly the chapter plan that appears in Allegories of Reading, starting from page 1 with a chapter on ‘The Metaphor of the Self, corresponding to Chapter 8 of Allegories, ‘Self (Pygmalion)’, running though chapters on Julie, the Profession de foi, The Social Contract and Confessions. An additional un-numbered chapter entitled ‘Theory of Metaphor in Rousseau's Second Discourse’ completes the draft of Allegories, corresponding to Chapter 7 of that book, ‘Metaphor’.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThe Political Archive of Paul de Man
Subtitle of host publicationProperty, Sovereignty, and the Theotropic
PublisherEdinburgh University Press
Number of pages12
ISBN (Electronic)9780748665624
ISBN (Print)9780748665617
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2010


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