The Deconstructive Angel (Meyer H. Abrams, 1912-) Essay

1695 Words May 1st, 2013 7 Pages
Critical philosopher and cultural historian. Abrams received HA, MA and Ph.D. from Harvard and has taught since 1945 at Cornell, He is known for the editorship of The Norton Anthology of English Literature, for his contribution to literary history and history of ideas in The Mirror and the Lamp (1953) and, to the delight of the literature students, for A Glossary of Literary Terms (1971). Abrams writings display well his breadth of knowledge, as exemplified in the following essay (1971), a response to "a tendency in contemporary American criticism toward ideological monism as well as to deprecating the usefulness of knowledge of the intellectual tradition of East and West (the socalled canon) and questioning the virtues of …show more content…
It is the notion of "the sign" that allows Derrida a limited opening out of his premises. For he brings to a text the knowledge that the marks on a page are not random markings, but signs, and that a sign has a dual aspect as signifier and signified, signal and concept, or mark-with-meaning. But these meanings, when we look at a page, are not there, either as physical or mental presences. To account for significance, Derrida turns to a highly specialized and elaborated use of Saussure's notion that the identity cither of the sound or of the signification of a sign does not consist in a positive attribute, but in a negative (or relational) attribute — this is, its "difference," or differentiability, from other sounds and other significations within a particular linguistic system. This notion of difference is readily available to Derrida, because inspection of the printed page shows that some marks and sets of marks repeat each

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