Review of Martin Hägglund, Radical Atheism: Derrida and the Time of Life
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Martin Hägglund’s Radical Atheism is a tour de force. It announces as much in its opening sentence: ‘this book presents a sustained attempt to reassess the entire trajectory of Derrida’s work’ (1). It lives up to this bold claim, offering a remarkable tour of Jacques Derrida’s diverse and demanding oeuvre via lucid arguments and clear prose. Hägglund demonstrates an impressive command of Derrida’s corpus, marshaling these materials skillfully and effectively in rigorous, firmly grounded textual analyses, and he does so without reducing his text to simply a string of quotations, for which his words provide merely connective tissue. These accomplishments are themselves noteworthy, and they enable his text to achieve a fresh reading of Derrida’s work in terms of both form and content.
Much of Radical Atheism’s success on both fronts are due to a very well-organized tour of Derrida’s writings. Hägglund arranges his textual tour by way of encounters, as four of his five chapters stage...