The proximity between Martin Buber and Emmanuel Levinas which is so striking to the external observer was not always so apparent to Buber and Levinas themselves. The present essay surveys Levinas’s numerous studies of Buber, and in particular compares an essay predating Totality and Infinity with another post-dating Otherwise than Being or Beyond Essence in order to explore both the continuity and change not simply in Levinas’s understanding of what Buber wrote, but also in the way in which Levinas approached Buber. The relation between Buber and Levinas has already given rise to a few studies,2 but these commentaries predate Levinas’s most recent discussions of Buber and so are unable to take account of essays which, as I shall try to show, introduce a new stage in Levinas’s relation with Buber. Levinas was initially preoccupied with differentiating or separating his own position from that of Buber. But having established the points of difference, he found himself then able to re-read Buber in another way. Although Levinas continued to focus on many of the same issues in his treatment of Buber, his approach-his way of relating-appeared to undergo a transformation. It is my contention that Levinas’s recent essays on Buber are important not

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