sip, we might believe them. Stories of DernMan’s past had reached the Society ofrnFellows at Han’ard, and he wrote a letter,rndated January 26, 1955, to professor ofrncomparative literature Renato Poggioli.rnMost of what can be checked in the letterrnis false. He calls Hendrik de Man his fatherrnand says that he contributed “somernliterary articles” to l^e Soir in 1940 andrn1941 (in fact, there were 170), which hernstopped doing “when nazi thought-controlrndid no longer allow freedom of expression.”rnHe implies that he was marriedrnto an American citizen when hernentered the countr)’ in May 1948 and, ohrnyes, he had no idea how his family businessrnwas doing. “Since 1950 or 51 I havernnot heard from the firm. This made mernassume that things were not going wellrnbut, since I had other things on my mind,rnI did not give it much thought.” Thernfirm went bankrupt in 1949. That Paul’srnreal relationship to Hendrik was knownrnat Yale is clear from an article StanleyrnCorngold, De Man’s student, wroternabout De Man in 1982. In it Corngoldrngives a very misleading description ofrnHendrik’s career, with no hint of his collaborafionistrnactivities…. There need bernlittle doubt that the ignorance of DernMan’s past at Yale was what De Manrncalled in a Le Soir article of March 16,rn1942, an ignorance factice, an arfificial orrnmade-up ignorance.rnIs there a connection between DernMan’s wartime collaboration and his laterrnliterary theor’? Jon Wiener, in a 1988rnpiece for the Nation, has a simple answer.rnHe is sure that a number of prominentrntheorists are antisemites and Nazis.rnFor Deconstructionist J. Hillis Miller, DernMan’s now famous discussion of “Jews inrnContemporan- Literature” is neither antisemiticrnnor Nazi, but an attack on “vidgarrnanfi-Semitism.” Christopher Norrisrnand Geoffrey Hartman have explainedrnDe Man’s later work as an implicit attackrnon his 40’s attitudes. The question arises,rnin a world where all sorts of innocentrnpeople are smeared as Nazis and Fascists,rnwh is one person for whom there is docimientarvrnevidence for his Nazism defendedrnin places like the New Republic?rnOne place to start looking for anrnanswer is with a quotation fromrn”Criticism and Crisis,” the first essay inrnBlindness and Insight. . . . In it De Manrncastigates an essay written in 1935 by thernGerman philosopher Edmimd Husserlrnand comments on “the numerous sectionsrnin which philosoph’ is said to be thernhistorical privilege of European man.”rnHe ends by noting,rnHusserl’s claim to European supremacyrnhardly stands in need ofrncriticism today. Since we arernspeaking of a man of superior goodrnwill, it suffices to point to thernpathos of such a claim at a momentrnwhen Europe was about to destroyrnitself as center in the name of itsrnunwarranted claim to be the center.rnWliat is the meaning of the language used?rnConventional Nazi rhetoric talks aboutrnthe Master Race as being the highestrnstage in human evolution—vocabularyrnthat pretends to superiorit)- in time andrnquality, but that says nothing about “ccntrality.”rnIn Le Soir for March 16, 1942, DernMan discussed an exhibition on “Germany’srnGreatness” (the translation here isrnmine).rnThere is another reason why Germany’srnhistorical destiny, past andrnfuture, cannot leave us indifferent.rnWe depend on it directly. First ofrnall because there exists betweenrnGermany and Belgium a profoundrninterpretation [sic; relationship?)rnthat reveals itself through the centuriesrnby constant political andrnartistic contacts. Besides that, becausernno one can deny the fundamentalrnsignificance of Germany forrnthe life of the West taken as arnwhole. We must see in that stubbornrnrefusal to let herself be conqueredrnmore than a simple proof ofrnnational faithfulness. The entirerncontinuit}’ of Western civilizationrndepends on the unit}’ of the peoplernwho are at its center. That is whyrnthe facts that determine the coursernof German historv’ touch us twice:rnbecause we are Belgians, since thevrnaffect rile values v e share with it,rnand because we are Europeans,rnsince Europe’s strengfii depends onrnit. . . .rnNow wc know where the language of thern”center” comes from in De Man’s reviewrnof Husserl. It was De Man’s memory ofrnthe way he and other young Quislingsrnused to talk back in the 40’s. Why did nornone question this language when “Criticismrnand Crisis” was first published inrn1967? For die same reason that GeoffrevrnHartman quotes this passage as part of hisrndefense of De Man in the New Republicrnin 1988. It sounded to him like the kindrnof thing that a good, non-Eurocentricrnleftist should say—though I know of nornreason why leftists should feci that tiie defeatrnof Nazism and the introduction ofrnconstitutional government into morernthan half of Europe was a defeat, even arndestruction of Europe. Why did no onernat the Universit}’ of Texas (where die talkrnwas first given) ask L^c Man why he saidrn”Europe” when he meant “Germany”?rnWliy did no one ask De Man why he sawrnthe defeat of Nazi Germany as the destructionrnof Europe “as center”? I knowwhyrna Nazi would sa}- such a thing, butrnwho else would? . ..rnIt is striking that the De Man of thern40’s admires Germany for coming backrnfrom defeat. He had no such ambitionsrnfor himself. He wanted to be with tiiernwinners at all times and at all costs.rnWhen Germany was winning, she wasrnthe center. Wlien Germany lost, it wasrntime to emigrate to the United States.rnThere were no regrets for Europe.rnDe Man’s Critical Writmgs, 1953-1978rnwas reprinted in 1988 by the Universit}- ofrnMinnesota Press. What are called hisrnbooks are reprints of earlier essays withrnsome new material. He never edited arntext or wrote a commcntar}’ on a work ofrnliterature. His essays typically take arnsmall part of an auriior’s work and discussrnit from a narrow perspective. Nevertheless,rnthe literar}’-eritical establishment hasrndrawn the wagon train into a circlernaround De Man’s accomplishments.rnThe question of De Man’s lack of substantivernpublication is serious. One ofrnriie most common myths about tiie academyrnis tiiat “good teaching” is rejected inrnfavor of scholarly publication. Whateverrnmay be true in the physical sciences, forrnthe hun-ianities this is arrant nonsense.rnTwo thirds of tenured facultv in the humanitiesrnpublish nothing but their dissertations,rnif they publish that. Some ofrnwhat appears consists of literan,’ criticismrnor theory, with no historical or textualrnbase, often setting die words of the textrncompletely at naught. . . . Most faculh’rnare tenured on the basis of a few unrefcreedrnor virtually imrefereed articles andrntheir reputations as Great Teachers. Thernmore cynical look for administrativernposts or become chairmen of their deparhuents,rnwhere thev get nuich betterrnraises than serious publication brings andrnwhence they can fight off the hiring orrntenuring of serious scholars.rnlULY 2001/27rnrnrn