Jacques Derrida’s library goes to Princeton

Jacques Derrida

The personal library of French desconstructionist Jacques Derrida has gone to Princeton.

(Joel Robine / AFP)

The personal library of Jacques Derrida, the father of Deconstructionism, has abandoned France for New Jersey.

Princeton has acquired the library, consisting of 13,800 books and other materials. The university took delivery of the materials on March 19.

Derrida, who died in 2004, was a literary critic and philosopher who moved to France from Algeria in 1949. He wrote in French, and he’s commonly thought of as a French theorist.

Nevertheless, his library is now in New Jersey. Many of the volumes are full of notes in Derrida’s hand. He once explained that his books bear “traces of the violence of pencil strokes, exclamation points, arrows and underlining.”


Princeton professor Hal Foster, co-director of the university’s Program in Media and Modernity, said in a release, “Derrida developed his own thought through a meticulous engagement with other thinkers, past and present, thinkers who at once constitute the Western traditions of philosophy and literature and defy them (indeed they constitute them in part because they defied them). What a boon it is for us at Princeton to have his notes on these thinkers and writers, to see the master of textuality perform, as it were, on other master texts.”

As the Derrida materials are processed, they will be added to the Department of Rare Books and Special Collections at Princeton’s Firestone Library, where they will be available to scholars.

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