Does de man’s past explain his criticism?

140324_r24764_p233Louis Menand at The New Yorker:

So when it was learned, in the spring of 1987, three and a half years after de Man’s death, that he had written during the war for two Belgian newspapers controlled by the Nazis more was at stake than the reputation of a deceased academic. The articles were found by a Belgian graduate student named Ortwin de Graef; he informed two former students of de Man’s, and they spread the news among the de Manians, all of whom were stunned. For the few people who knew, or thought they knew, anything about de Man’s past—de Man was always highly discreet about personal matters—the revelation upended the image they had formed. There was a vague understanding that de Man had had a complicated war, but it was assumed that this was because of his antipathy to the German occupiers, not, as it now appeared, the other way around.

At a conference at the University of Alabama in October, 1987, a group that included some of de Man’s former students and colleagues decided to publish all the wartime journalism—some two hundred articles, most of them column-length, that de Man wrote for the two German-controlled papers, plus pieces he published in other venues between 1939 and 1943—along with a companion volume of thirty-eight scholarly responses.

more here.