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Reviews 137 did the communist line on culture begin to soften. At this point Garaudy and others suddenly acknowledge the "specificity" and "relative autonomy" of uterature and art as a special mode ofdiscourse related to but not entirely determined by the class struggle and by ideological objectives. Here Flower's account ends, for he does not chart the impact of the new party line on contemporary uterary production, nor track the theoretical debates over the nature ofrepresentation and ideology that develop in the late 1960s and 1970s. What his rather shaky conclusion only alludes to, without entirely recognizing its significance, is that the communist party line on culture had to be revised because of the threat of losing the left cultural initiative to a growing non-communist "new left." Flower claims that "although more complex, this is just another period in the history ofthe relation between the PCF, Uterature and criticism" (p. 185); but it's not. CompelUng reflection on the relations between literature and the left in France increasingly takes place outside of—even against—the doctrines of sociaUst reaUsm and communist orthodoxy, in movements such as Sartre's existential marxism, structuraUsm, Tel Quel avant-gardism, Barthesian semiotics, and so on. Here, too, although Flower does not recognize it, the very Uterary tradition he has resurrected nears its end. Since the Liberation, the French "working class" has been transformed virtually beyond recognition by the modernization of the French economy, the internal differentiation and fragmentation of work and jobs, and the gradual integration of most workers into consumer society. "Novels which treat specific aspects of working-class life continue to be written . . . and presumably wiU continue to be so," Flower suggests; but as "workingclass Ufe" becomes increasingly indistinguishable from "petty-bourgeois" or "middle-class" life, the very basis of the genre disappears. To resort (as Flower does, p. 185) to George Perec's Les Choses (1965) as an example of the modern working-class novel betrays a severe overextension of the genre: in neither form nor content, neither subject matter, authorial stance, nor style, does Perec's work "belong" with Germinie Lacerteux (in the way even the 1950s novels of Vailland and Courtade surely do). Flower has unearthed a rich vein of prose fiction and presented a weU-balanced chronology of its development over the last hundred years. There is, as he says at the end of his book, a great deal more to be done in this area, but not because the genre he has defined will continue to flourish. It is rather that methodological resources Uke Terdiman's will enable us to organize this material more rigorously as a genre and to formulate better the complex relations between literary genres and evolving historical context. EUGENE HOLLAND TAe Gaze ofOrpheus by Maurice Blanchot. Edited with an afterword by P. Adams Sitney. Preface by Geoffrey Hartman. Translated by Lydia Davis. Barrytown, NY: Station Hill Press, 1981. pp. 197 + xi. $8.95 (paper). TAe Writing ofthe Disaster by Maurice Blanchot. Translated by Ann Smock. Lincoln, NE: The University of Nebraska Press, 1986. pp. 150 + xiii. $7.95 (paper). Maurice Blanchot is, in many senses, the invisible man. First, in the simplest sense, the crudely biographical one, he is a shadowly figure in the world of French letters: practically no one has even met him; he never appears on the Friday evening talk show Apostrophes (as appearance on this show has become the ultimate sign of literary success in France); his photograph is never pubUshed. For a while, everyone thought he was dead, or on the verge of death. I recaU Derrida in 1978 pointing to a short'paragraph published in Gramma in 1976 as if it were literally the last word from Blanchot. Then suddenly, more texts appeared , as if from nowhere: L'Ecriture du desastre in 1980, La communautéinavouable in 1983. Blanchot was still on top of things, still following current debates, still taking a strong stand on "ground" that makes for the very impossibility of such a stand. We might say that Blanchot simply values his private life, and that, as an author first 138 the minnesota review established in the 1940s (born in 1907, he published his...

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Additional Information

ISSN
2157-4189
Print ISSN
0026-5667
Pages
pp. 137-141
Launched on MUSE
2011-07-06
Open Access
No
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