This essay elucidates Derrida's Before the Law: The Complete Text of Préjugés. Derrida's thesis is twofold: law qua literature and literature qua law. Law qua literature points to law's narrativity and fictionality. Law possesses no essence; the genealogical history at its core is utterable. However, it is precisely this absence of origin that triggers off the deferred narration marked by repetition of difference. Literature qua law refers to the institution and convention of literature. Once a text is being written, it exhibits functions of the law and accomplishes “legitimate” expressive acts, wherein the reading and circulation of literature also take place. Bringing in Derrida's interpretation of Maurice Blanchot in the “Law of Genre” and its intertextuality with his reading of Kafka, we can further explore the mutual production and domination between law and literature, as well as sexualize their correlation. This essay first examines the two folds in Derrida's reasoning, drawing an outline of the “tabooed” love. It then explores the issue of singularity that Derrida accentuates with the help of his “Force of Law: The ‘Mystical Foundation’ of Authority,” illustrating the break between the generality of law and the singularity of a subject's being as well as the impossibility of full justice. This essay enquires how the singularity of literature may enable the singular being of a subject, and thereby tempt law into a game of love to make it stand before literature.


Derrida, Kafka, law, literature, singularity