This essay seeks to fill a gap in the scholarship on Paul de Man by taking stock of the scattered references to Flemish in his later writings. Taking its cue from a passing remark in the most recent de Man biography—namely, that late in life the theorist attested repeatedly in private to the experience of “losing” his native tongue—this article has two aims. One is to show that de Man’s later works bear witness to this ongoing experience of native-linguistic loss; the other is to relate this experience to the theory of deconstruction that de Man had espoused by then. To this latter end, the essay establishes a comparison between de Man’s later works, from Allegories of Reading (1979) onward, and Jacques Derrida’s 1996 autobiographical essay Monolingualism of the Other in order to show how the deconstructive theory conception of language-as-other is rooted in these two thinkers’ respective experiences of native-linguistic loss. The essay closes by reflecting on the contrast between a major language's relative resilience to native-linguistic loss, as in the case of Derrida’s French, and the far more precarious condition of a minor language in exile such as de Man's Flemish.

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