The Beast and the Sovereign, Volume I
When he died in 2004, Jacques Derrida left behind a vast legacy of unpublished material, much of it in the form of written lectures. With The Beast and the Sovereign, Volume 1, the University of Chicago Press inaugurates an ambitious series, edited by Geoffrey Bennington and Peggy Kamuf, translating these important works into English.
The Beast and the Sovereign, Volume 1 launches the series with Derrida’s exploration of the persistent association of bestiality or animality with sovereignty. In this seminar from 2001–2002, Derrida continues his deconstruction of the traditional determinations of the human. The beast and the sovereign are connected, he contends, because neither animals nor kings are subject to the law—the sovereign stands above it, while the beast falls outside the law from below. He then traces this association through an astonishing array of texts, including La Fontaine’s fable “The Wolf and the Lamb,” Hobbes’s biblical sea monster in Leviathan, D. H. Lawrence’s poem “Snake,” Machiavelli’s Prince with its elaborate comparison of princes and foxes, a historical account of Louis XIV attending an elephant autopsy, and Rousseau’s evocation of werewolves in The Social Contract.
Deleuze, Lacan, and Agamben also come into critical play as Derrida focuses in on questions of force, right, justice, and philosophical interpretations of the limits between man and animal.
Foreword to the English Edition
General Introduction to the French Edition
First Session December 12, 2001
Second Session December 19, 2001
Third Session January 16, 2002
Fourth Session January 23, 2002
Fifth Session January 30, 2002
Sixth Session February 6, 2002
Seventh Session February 13, 2002
Eighth Session February 20, 2002
Ninth Session February 27, 2002
Tenth Session March 6, 2002
Eleventh Session March 13, 2002
Twelfth Session March 20, 2002Thirteenth Session March 27, 2002
“What this first volume . . . provides beyond its treatment of the fascinatingly intricate literary and philosophical motifs of bestiality and sovereignty is a vivid attestation to the experience of Derrida as a teacher—the quality of his attention, the tone and rhythm of his voice, his means of sparking his students capacities’ to read and think.”
“This superb translation of 13 previously unpublished lectures by Derrida is the first in a remarkable project. . . . What Derrida accomplishes in this, his final seminar, is remarkable because it goes to the very heart of his lifelong project of deconstructing the logocentric bias of Western thinking."