Copyright (c) 2005 Yeshiva University
Cardozo Law Review
Symposium: Derrida-America: The Present State of America's Europe: LAW: AUTHORITY: AN HOMMAGE TO JACQUES DERRIDA AND MARY QUAINTANCE
27 Cardozo L. Rev. 791
Arthur J. Jacobson*
In thinking how to remember Jacques Derrida and that marvelous moment in which we were privileged to hear and to read his and Mary Quaintance's contributions to "Deconstruction and the Possibility of Justice," I reread Force of Law: The "Mystical Foundation of Authority." 1 That text appears in the Cardozo Law Review, with Derrida's French on the left-hand pages and Quaintance's English translation of it on the facing right-hand pages. At the conference Derrida read from Quaintance's English text. 2
Upon reflection, I noticed a small irregularity, of no apparent significance, in its very first sentence. The French text reads (pardon my French): "C'est ici un devoir, je dois m'adresser a vous en anglais (a prononcer en francais puis en anglais en soulignant adresse)." 3 A direct translation would read: "This is an obligation, I must address myself to you in English (to be spoken in French, then in English, emphasizing address)." But Quaintance did not translate what Derrida wrote. Instead, she translated what, from her perspective in the moment she prepared the translation, he would speak: "C'est ici un devoir, je dois m'adresser a vous en anglais. This is an obligation, I must address myself to you in English." 4 Think about it. Her published translation reports her response to Derrida's instruction rather than the instruction itself. She prepared the translation for Derrida to read out loud, not as a "faithful" rendering of the French text. In effect, Quaintance gave priority to the spoken over ...
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