Contents and Arrangement

Gift Books, Works By and About Derrida, and Related Items, 1864-2013

1 item

Collection Overview

Collection Description & Creator Information


The Library of Jacques Derrida comprises the library of the Derrida household, including Jacques Derrida's working library as well as books belonging, jointly or separately, to Jacques and Marguerite Derrida and, to some degree, their two sons, Jean and Pierre. It consists of volumes, serial issues, offprints, clippings, and papers accumulated in the course of Jacques and Marguerite's professional activities as well as books representing the family's far-reaching interests and leisure reading.

The thematic scope of the collection is expansive and polyglot, spanning some twenty languages and topics ranging, among many others, from capital punishment to photography, comparative law to James Joyce, the history of Algeria to animal rights, psychoanalysis to Iceland, mourning to Jewelry factories in Russia, Bushisms, and Asterix.

Jacques Derrida's working library is the result of decades of acquisitions of a scholar who preferred to work from home. Shelfmarks from an inventory conducted in 2011, with the workspace largely untouched in the seven intervening years since Derrida's passing, allow the virtual reconstruction of the contextual placement of works on his Studio shelves. Multiple copies of works, some with different sets of annotations, bear witness to a practice of re-reading as well as obtaining additional copies when those already owned were unavailable. A run of books received as gifts, several thousand items strong and including a number of volumes with uncut pages or still in their original shrinkwrap, offers evidence of Derrida's famous refusal to discard any books. Insertions related by subject offer a fascinating glimpse of an alternate use of the Library as an ad-hoc topical filing system.

The Library includes items added by Marguerite Derrida after Jacques Derrida's death. Also included are individual items bearing owner's marks of or inscriptions to Marguerite Derrida and Marguerite and Jacques Derrida's sons, Pierre and Jean.

Dealer notes regarding annotations employ a numeric scale from 0-3, with "0" denoting the absence of annotations, "1" the presence of some markings (typically underlines or vertical lines marking a phrase), "2" the presence of more substantive markings, and "3" heavy markings and marginalia.


Click here to access the full inventory of the House series

Arranged in original shelf order as reflected in the inventory conducted prior to packing the Library for shipping to Princeton University Library. Shelf order is roughly alphabetical by author albeit with frequent topically associated insertions and disturbances. The exact location of this run in the house is unknown; the breaks in alphabetical sequence and nature of material possibly represent transitions between rooms or shelves.

Sections L-M-N of the alpha run are intermixed, as are P-Q-R-S as well as U-V-W-Y- Z, respectively. The alpha run is further interrupted between "Laruelle" (sequential inventory identifier 3865) and "Meyer" (sequential inventory identifier 4036) by a group of works by authors beginning with the letter "R," works by or about Derrida, and others. A group of works by authors beginning with the letters J-K-L follows the end of the main alpha run, beginning with "Jablonka" (sequential inventory identifier 6780) and ending with "Kinsella" (sequential inventory identifier 7334.) That section is followed by a group consisting largely of serial issues (sequential inventory identifier 7335-7856) and another of seemingly unsorted but largely inscribed volumes (sequential inventory identifier 7857-8193).) A second pocket of works by or about Derrida concludes the run of gift books, ending at sequential inventory identifier 8719. It is followed by a small number of inscribed travel books.

Collection History

Access & Use

Access Restrictions:

Collection is open for research.

Conditions for Reproduction and Use:

Photocopies may be made for research purposes. Researchers are responsible for determining any copyright questions.

Credit this material:

Gift Books, Works By and About Derrida, and Related Items; The Library of Jacques Derrida, Studio Series, RBD1, Rare Book Division, Department of Special Collections, Princeton University Library

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