Between the She-Wolf and Little Red Riding Hood: The Figure of the Girl in Derrida's The Beast and The Sovereign
David Bourget (Western Ontario)
David Chalmers (ANU, NYU)
Rafael De Clercq
Jack Alan Reynolds
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Derrida Today 4 (2):257-280 (2011)
This essay explores the important role played by the figure of the virgin girl at the centre of The Beast and The Sovereign. Derrida hints that she may offer a figure between the beast and the sovereign, between the two marionettes of Nature and Culture. Moreover, it seems that she is both what props up the fabled distinction between man and animal and at the same time that upon which man erects himself as sovereign lord and master. Taking Derrida's suggestions further, I argue that the virgin girl both does and undoes sovereign power as phallic power. She is the figure behind the erection of sovereignty. Indeed, her appearance is both necessary and threatening insofar as she both erects sovereign phallic power and threatens to reveal its impotence. In this way, the girl operates between feminine and masculine, between Nature and Culture, between the beast and the sovereign, particularly as her virginity and its deflowering are essential to the cut between the two sides of these traditional binaries. Finally, her appearance is telling in relation to the movements and rhythms of Derrida's deconstructive approach to philosophy and literature in this seminar and in his work more generally.
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