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Durham E-Theses
Derrida and a Theory of Irony: Parabasis and Parataxis
How to cite:
LONG, MAEBH (2010)
Derrida and a Theory of Irony: Parabasis and Parataxis.
Doctoral thesis, DurhamUniversity. Available at Durham E-Theses Online:http://etheses.dur.ac.uk/665/
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Derrida and a Theory of Irony: Parabasis and Parataxis
Maebh Long
This thesis presents a theory of structural irony gleaned from the irony theorisedand performed in the texts of thinkers whose works operate on the border of the(non)propositional: Plato, Friedrich Schlegel, Maurice Blanchot, Paul de Man,Emmanuel Levinas and Jacques Derrida. While focusing on the irony performedin the texts of Jacques Derrida, and using his engagements with these thinkers as
a frame, this is not a theory of “Derridean” irony, but an irony (primarily)
elaborated through a deconstructive approach and vocabulary. Structural irony isseen to take the form of the transgressive step/counter-step of parabasis and thenon-hierarchical disorder of parataxis. It is an anacoluthic force/weakness, andexhibits the conjunctive/disjunctive trait of hyphenation. It is neither of cynical,aesthetic distance nor humorous, parodic engagement, but is a productivemovement of (impossible) negotiation between terms. Irony is an expression of the
beyond, within
, and this reworking of borders and limits is performed in the
fragment/aphorism. The (ir)responsible step taken in Derrida‟s texts is
understood as a mode of structural irony, and it is proposed that the stylistic
changes that occurred in Derrida‟s “later” texts were in part due to the
autoimmunity cause
d by an overexposure to the “laws of the interview”.
Throughout the thesis styles that manipulate the unmasterable excesses of irony
are investigated, and each chapter ends with a reading of one of Derrida‟s more“literary” or “performative” texts, while r 
ecognising and playing with the falsityof such generic makers or divisions. Inscribing Derrida within a tradition of thinkers of the non-thetic both extends readings of that tradition and of ironyitself, while affording a valuable way of approaching the
“structures” withinDerrida‟s texts. Irony is not presented as the transcendental signifier of 
deconstruction, but as a profitable way of understanding deconstruction and itsrelation to other writers.
Derrida and a Theory of Irony:Parabasis and Parataxis
Maebh LongPh.D.Department of English StudiesDurham University2010

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