Levinas and derrida on translation and conversion

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For both Levinas and Derrida, the practice of philosophy, understood as commentary by the former and deconstruction by the latter, was founded on borrowing terms from other languages and finding their equivalents in French. This argument is developed through a discussion of two texts, Levinas’s early Talmudic reading, “The Temptation of Temptation,” and Derrida’s deconstruction of The Merchant of Venice in “What Is a ‘Relevant’ Translation?” This essay shows how translated terms are interwoven into these texts. It also shows that translation is essential to Levinas’s and Derrida’s creative conceptualization, and to the performativity of their philosophies, meaning that Levinas and Derrida open their language to other languages in order to create concepts. It finally argues that in both Derrida and Levinas the question of the limits of translation, namely, of the moment in which translation becomes conversion, is left open.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)127-146
Number of pages20
JournalProoftexts - Journal of Jewish Literature History
Issue number2
StatePublished - 1 Mar 2014

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2014 by Prooftexts Ltd.

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cultural Studies
  • Religious studies
  • Literature and Literary Theory


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