"Daylight's fine book on Derrida and Saussure is the first critique to seek
to understand Derrida's philosophical project while testing his reading of
Saussure and exploring how the argument of the Course may, despite
Derrida's influential critique, contain resources for resisting his project
and thinking differently about language and meaning."
Jonathan Culler, Cornell University
Between 1907 and 1911, Ferdinand de Saussure gave three series of lectures
on the topic of general linguistics. After his death, these lecture notes
were gathered together by his students and published as the Course in
General Linguistics. And in the past one hundred years, there has been
no more influential and divisive reading of Saussure than that of Jacques
This book is an examination of Derrida's philosophical reconstruction of
Saussurean linguistics, of the paradigm shift from structuralism to
post-structuralism, and of the consequences that continue to resonate in
every field of the humanities today.
Despite the importance of Derrida's critique of Saussure for cultural
studies, philosophy, linguistics and literary theory, no comprehensive
analysis has before been written. The magnitude of the task undertaken here
makes this book an invaluable resource for those wishing to interrogate the
encounter beyond appearances or received wisdom.
In this process of a close reading, the following themes become sites of
debate between Derrida and Saussure:
*the originality of Saussure within the history of Western metaphysics
*the relationship between speech and writing
*the relationship between difference and difference
*the intervention of time in structuralism
*linguistic relativism and the role of the language user.
This long-overdue commentary also poses new questions to structuralism and
post-structuralism, and opens up exciting new terrain in linguistic and