A Man of Little Faith

By Michel Deguy
Edited and translated by Christopher Elson
Introduction by Christopher Elson
Contributions by Jean-Luc Nancy

Subjects: Continental Philosophy, Religion, Philosophy
Series: SUNY series in Contemporary French Thought
Paperback : 9781438453583, 264 pages, July 2015
Hardcover : 9781438453590, 264 pages, December 2014

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Table of contents

Translator’s Notes
To Conserve While Leaving Behind: Michael Deguy’s Palinody
A Man of Little Faith
This text is of little faith…
I. Palinody
I will not tell of how “I lost faith”…
There is no transcendent…
If I were a visual artist…
I will reverse a saying of Auguste Comte…
The fantasy of forgetting
Paul Valéry’s “to be awake…”
Gift without Exchange
Case of Equality
Love has no why…
Of the Author
“Super Flumina”
Poetry is triple
Man is the being who tramps his own transcendence…
“My fellow, my sister…” [mon semblable, ma soeur]
Natives of Eden…
“Everything is full of soul(s)…”…
“Keine Rache mehr”…
“Ecce Homo”
I pause for a moment…
We are in the Fiji Islands…
We are in the Fiji Islands…
Of the Mortal Possessing Speech
II. Notebooks of Disbelief

In Doubt
“Non credo in”
To Mothers
In the imagination…
“The patient breath of the bull”…
Who is God…
The Incarnate
Why Continue…
Nothing will be destroyed…
Since the body…
The Future of the Illusion
Of the Holy Family
My Guardian Angel
There are certainly other just men in the city…
The Infernal Machine
Metaphysical Meditation
Descartes and Socrates
Enough with the science!…
Literature And The Good
The Common Nothing
The Reproach Made to Kant
“Minima Moralia”
Logic of Double Negation or of Non-Mathematical, Paradoxical Apodicticity
III. Simone Weil From Memory
Life and Death
Of Purity
Of Contrariety
And Today
Notes On Paradox
Of the Double-Blind
Digression on Analogy
An Aside
Revelation, continued…
Of Religion
Of the End

IV. Jewish Humanity
“All Men Will Be Jewish”
Appendix A: Dublin Interview
Appendix B: Two Essays on Michel Deguy by Jean-Luc Nancy
Deguy The New Year!
To Accompany Michel Deguy

A poetic and philosophical negotiation of the alternatives of atheism and religious faith.


In A Man of Little Faith the French poet and philosopher Michel Deguy reflects on the loss of religious faith both personally and culturally. Disenchanted not only with the oversimplifications of radical atheism but also with what he sees as an insipid sacralization of art as the influence of religion has waned, Deguy refuses to focus on loss or impossibility. Instead he actively suspends belief, producing a poetic deconstruction that, though resolutely a-theistic, makes a plea for an earthly piety and for the preservation of the relics of religion for the world to come. Two essays by Jean-Luc Nancy and a recent interview with Deguy are included, which reveal the impact and implications of Deguy's ongoing reflection and its significance within his generation of French thought.

Michel Deguy is Professor Emeritus at the Université Paris 8 and the author of more than forty books. Christopher Elson is Associate Professor of French and Canadian Studies at Dalhousie University, Canada. He is the coeditor (with Michael Bishop) of Contemporary French Poetics and French Prose in 2000.