“When the decision was made to edit and publish Jacques Derrida’s teaching lectures, there was little question that they would and should be translated into English. From early in his career, in 1968, and annually thereafter until 2003, Derrida regularly taught at U.S. universities. It was his custom to repeat for his American audience the lectures delivered to his students in France the same year. Teaching first at Johns Hopkins and then at Yale, he read the lectures in French as they had been written. But from 1987, when he began teaching at the University of California, Irvine, Derrida undertook to lecture in English, improvising on the spot translations of his lectures. Recognizing that the greater part of his audience outside of France depended on translation was easier, however, than providing an ad libitum English version of his own elegant, complex, and idiomatic writing. In the circumstance, to his evident joy in teaching was often added a measure of suffering and regret for all that remained behind in the French original. It is to the memory of Derrida the teacher as well as to all his students past and still to come that we offer these English translations of “The Seminars of Jacques Derrida.”

The volumes in this Series are translations of the original French editions published by Éditions Galilée, Paris, and will in each case follow shortly the publication of the corresponding French volume. The scope of the project, and the basic editorial principles followed in establishing the text, are outlined in the General Introduction to the French Edition, translated here. Editorial issues and decisions relating more specifically to this volume are addressed in an Editorial Note. Editors’ footnotes and other editorial interventions are all translated without modification, except in the case of footnoted citations of quoted material, which refer to extant English translations of the source as necessary. Additional translators’ notes have been kept to a minimum. To facilitate scholarly reference, the page numbers of the French edition are printed in the margin on the line at which the new page begins.

Translating Derrida is a notoriously difficult enterprise, and while the translator of each volume assumes full responsibility for the integrity of the translation, as Series editors we have also reviewed the translations and sought to ensure a standard of accuracy and consistency across the volumes. Toward this end, in the first phase of work on the Series, we have called upon the advice of other experienced translators of Derrida’s work into English and wish to thank them here: Pascale-Anne Brault, Michael Naas, Elizabeth Rottenberg, and David Wills.”

Geoffrey Bennington
Peggy Kamuf
January 2009

The Beast and the Sovereign, Volume I.
(Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2009),
© 2009 by The University of Chicago. All rights reserved.