In The New Criterion, Kyle Smith reviews Deconstruction
, the play.
Arendt, who fled Germany in 1933, is instantly suspicious of a detail from de Man’s past that McCarthy finds most attractive: his supposed role in the Resistance. But instead of grilling him about details of his biography, she challenges de Man from an oblique angle. The two spar about their competing interpretations of the philosophy of Martin Heidegger, Arendt’s former professor and lover and a onetime member of the Nazi party.
The play becomes, then, an erudite detective story, an inquiry into a man’s personality wrapped up in an in inquiry about philosophical concepts. By probing de Man’s views on Heidegger, Arendt gradually uncovers the young man’s hostility to truth, and this in turn leads to a devastating reckoning.