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What is a promise? What are the consequences of the act of promising? In this bold yet subtle meditation, the author contemplates the seductive promise of speech and the seductive promise of love. Imagining an encounter between Moliere's Don Juan and J. L. Austin, between a mythical figure of the French classical theater and a twentieth-century philosopher, she explores the relation between speech and the erotic, using a literary text as the ground for a telling encounter between philosophy, linguistics, and Lacanian psychoanalytic theory. In the years since the publication of this book (which the author today calls "the boldest, the most provocative, but also the most playful" she has written), speech act theory has continued to play a central and defining role in the theories of sexuality, gender, performance studies, post-colonial studies, and cultural studies. This book remains topical as readers increasingly discover how multiply relevant the speaking body is. Moving beyond the domain of formal linguistic analysis to address these questions, the author has written a daring and seductive book.
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Table of Contents

Preface to the New Edition ix SHOSHANA FELMAN Foreword to The Scandal of the Speaking Body xi STANLEY CAVELL The Scandal of the Speaking Body Preface: The Promising Animal 3 1 Between Linguistics and Philosophy of Langauge: Theories of Promise, Promises of Theory 6 2 The Perversion of Promising: Don Juan and Literary Performance 12 3 The Scandal of the Performative 41 4 Knowledge and Pleasure, or the Philosopher's Performance (Psychoanalysis and the Performative) 48 Afterword 113 JUDITH BUTLER Notes I25 Index 138 Library of Congress Subject Headings for this publication: Speech acts (Linguistics) Performative (Philosophy) Moli ere, 1622-1673, Dom Juan, Don Juan (Legendary character) in literature, Comedy, Austin, J, L, (John Langshaw), 1911-1960

About the Author

Shoshana Felman is the Thomas E. Donnelley Professor of French and Comparative Literature at Yale University. Her books include Literature and Psychoanalysis, Writing and Madness (in a new edition from Stanford University Press), Testimony, and (most recently) The Juridical Unconscious: Trials and Traumas in the Twentieth Century.

Reviews

"The Scandal of the Speaking Body - one of the most brilliant and daring and disturbing works of its period, which appeared in English translation in 1984 [under the title The Literary Speech Act] ... has never found the full radius of readers it assumes and deserves." - From the Forewordby Stanley Cavell

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