Sarah Kofman had something to say


Sarah Kofman had something to say, about philosophy, about psychoanalysis, about art, about women. She found her voice in the 1960s, and the language she came to speak was deferred and delivered—articulated—through the lexicon of her generation. It was a time that prized radicalism of thought and often of deed. Impetuousness was rewarded; extravagance in interpretation became an odd norm. Some of the writing from this period, and some of its dramatic political gestures, now look like mere antics; the invitation to easy irony was a slippery slope and could easily be co-opted by commercial culture. And it was.

But Kofman had something to say, and her writings still command attention for their insight, their adventurousness, and their attentiveness to the philosophical traditions with which she so productively wrestled. She was one of the great readers of Freud in the twentieth century, and she brought the same caring intelligence to her interpretations of Nietzsche. In his memorial address for Kofman (reproduced as the introduction to this volume), Jacques Derrida called her love for these thinkers “pitiless,” by which I think he meant that she gave herself to them, and tried to find what they had to offer, without restraint.

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