"With him the love of country means
Blowing it all to smithereens
And having it all made over new."
Paul de Man's life was "the classic immigrant story" (according to James Atlas). He arrived in New York in 1948 from his native Belgium and worked as a clerk at the Doubleday bookstore in Grand Central Station. He met Mary McCarthy, who helped him to a job teaching French at Bard College. He fell in love with one of his students and they got married. By 1955 he was a member of the prestigious Society of Fellows of Harvard University. He ended his career as Sterling Professor of Humanities at Yale. At the time of his death in 1983 he was considered one of the most influential of the Yale "Hermeneutical Mafia," which had made "Deconstruction" and "Literary Theory" terms to conjure with.
In 1987 a young Belgian named Ortwin de Graef uncovered in Belgian newspapers De Man's wartime journalism, written under the Nazi occupation. Jacques Derrida brought the news to the United States. The University of Nebraska Press agreed to publish the many articles in French and Flemish (the latter with English translations) that De Man had published from 1939 to 1943, and the editors asked a number of literary critics and scholars to comment on the publications.
Paul Adolph Michel de Man was born...