A new guide to one of the most difficult contemporary philosophers
Glendinning's overview is accurate and informed, and the book covers many of the key terms: logocentrism, aporia, and grammatology, for example. I have a reservation, however, about the level at which the volume is pitched. Oxford Universty Press's "Very Short Introductions" are, the publisher explains, "for anyone wanting a stimulating and accessible way in to a new subject", and many of the titles in the series live up to this claim. (Catherine Belsey's Postructuralism and Peter Singer's Marx come to mind.) But Glendinning is often too immersed in the material to meet the needs of a newcomer. A discussion of the preface to Of Grammatology, for example, is interrupted by a reference to "Derrida's 'messianic' hope, a messianism without a determinate messianism'. Glendinning is not wrong to make the link, but the absence here of an explanation of Derrida's work on the messianic renders the allusion an obstacle. Meanwhile, a later chapter claims that "Derrida's conception of the 'text'... is not simply Heidegger's 'world'", but reveals nothing about the meaning of "world" in Heideggerean philosophy.Also at A Piece of Monologue:
Glendinning's book might satisfy readers already familiar with Derrida's writings, but those seeking an accessible guide will need to turn elsewhere, perhaps to John D. Caputo's Deconstruction in a Nutshell (1997) or Nicholas Royle's Jacques Derrida (2003). Between here and there is a world of difference.