The Title of the Letter

A Reading of Lacan

By Jean-Luc Nancy, Philippe Lacoue-Labarthe
Translated by François Raffoul, and David Pettigrew

Subjects: Postmodernism
Series: SUNY series in Contemporary Continental Philosophy
Paperback : 9780791409626, 183 pages, April 1992
Hardcover : 9780791409619, 183 pages, April 1992

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Table of contents

Translators' Preface


Setting the Scene

A Turn of Reading

Part I The Logic of the Signifier

1. The Science of the Letter

2. Algorithm and Operation

3. The Tree of the Signifier

4. Signifiance

Part II The Strategy of the Signifier

1. Strategy

2. System and Combination

3. Truth "Homologated"



This book is a close reading of Jacques Lacan's seminal essay, "The Agency of the Letter in the Unconscious or Reason Since Freud, " selected for the particular light it casts on Lacan's complex relation to linguistics, psychoanalysis, and philosophy. It clarifies the way Lacan renews or transforms the psychoanalytic field, through his diversion of Saussure's theory of the sign, his radicalization of Freud's fundamental concepts, and his subversion of dominant philosophical values. The authors argue, however, that Lacan's discourse is marked by a deep ambiguity: while he invents a new "language," he nonetheless maintains the traditional metaphysical motifs of systemacity, foundation, and truth.

Jean-Luc Nancy and Philippe Lacoue-Labarthe are Professors of Philosophy at the University of Strasbourg, France. They are the authors of The Literary Absolute, also published by SUNY Press. Nancy is also the author of The Inoperative Community. Lacoue-Labarthe authored Typography. François Raffoul is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Philosophy at the State University of New York at Stony Brook. David Pettigrew teaches philosophy at Southern Connecticut State University.


"I advise you to read a book called The Title of the Letter. It is with the greatest satisfaction that I have read it. I could not encourage its distribution enough. I can say, in a way, if it is a question of reading, that I have never been read so well. .." — Jacques Lacan