This paper confronts and compares Derrida’s “close reading” of the poem Snake (by D.H. Lawrence) with questions about the philosopher’s speculations in the interest of animal ethics. Discussion focuses on how the animal in Snake is represented and how Derrida combines ethics with aesthetics in his ninth lecture of The Beast and the Sovereign.
The text, according to Derrida, leads to an old biblical statement in front of a real beast: “Thou shalt not kill”. The phrase of the poem I, like a second-comer is especially recalled. What does it mean that the snake was before man, and
that the scene takes place near a water source? Why is the snake a beast that becomes a sovereign, an uncrowned king in the underworld? Finally, Derrida’s understanding that the snake is a victim from the Garden of Eden is discussed.
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