Philosophy in the Narratives of Maurice Blanchot
Publication Year: 2010
Published by: University of Notre Dame Press
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I would like to thank Christophe Bident and Jean-Luc Nancy for answering questions about Maurice Blanchot that I put to them while editing this collection of essays. As always, the Comité de Rédaction Espace Maurice Blanchot supplied exact information and sound advice. Marianne Peracchio translated Christophe Bident’s essay, and Alain Toumayan helped to...
Introduction: Philosophy and the Philosophical
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Speaking at Maurice Blanchot’s cremation at Guyancourt, outside Paris, on February 24, 2003, Jacques Derrida evoked his friend’s “récits, novels, fictions” that “we are scarcely beginning, it seems to me, to read,” and observed that their “future remains pretty much intact,” untouched by literary or philosophical criticism.1 He then went on to mention L’attente...
One. The Glory and the Abyss: Le ressassement �ternel
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Maurice Blanchot’s first récits, “Le dernier mot” and “L’idylle,”1 have repeatedly been called an “insoluble enigma.”2 They are, both in terms of their dark and oppressive atmosphere and the difficulty of comprehending them, disturbingly obscure tales of irrevocable alienation and apocalyptic destruction. The time and circumstances of their creation and...
Two. The Neutral Reduction: Thomas l’obscur
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When Blanchot entitled his first novel Thomas l’obscur, he immediately released it into what would become an increasingly complex network of literary, philosophical, and religious associations, not all of which would help elucidate it. Some of these associations are borne out in the text itself, which plainly deals in some way or other with the figure of a twin or...
Three. Aminadab: Quest for the Origin of the Work of Art
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In a 1951 essay, “Maurice Blanchot as Novelist,” Georges Poulet notes that for Blanchot, “the goal of the novel is not the fictional existence of characters or the portrayal of an imaginary world, even less is it that kind of supplementary reality which the naturalists attempted to weave into the compact pattern of an uncontested and preestablished world. Such...
Four. A Law without Flesh: Reading Erotic Phenomena in Le Tr�s-Haut
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Maurice Blanchot’s 1948 novel Le Très-Haut is abundantly engaged with a variety of philosophical themes and issues, making it in some respects the work of fiction in Blanchot’s oeuvre most frequently read from a philosophical viewpoint. The novel’s engagement with philosophy occurs within several frames of reference: within the frame of the fiction...
Five. The Haunted House of Being: Part II of L’arrêt de mort
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There is no doubt that in the canon of French modernism, Blanchot’s fiction occupies a privileged and unique place. Among the most perplexing and challenging works in French fiction, these texts, like their literary models and antecedents by such writers as Sade, Lautréamont, Kafka, and Bataille, defy interpretation and often resist description. The idea or...
Six. Writing and Sovereignty: La folie du jour
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La folie du jour (The Madness of the Day) concludes with a statement of refusal, a “no” that counterbalances a prior acquiescence from which derives a large portion of the text that we read before those final words.1 From the present of this concluding refusal, the narrator’s avowed silence and the text’s own infinite recession are sealed: “A story? No. No stories...
Seven. On Minor Reading Events: Orality and Spacing in the Opening of Au moment voulu
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I would like here to examine two minor reading events, focused on the openings of some r�cits by Maurice Blanchot.1 These events might seem secondary. The first, obsessively repeated, is the shock that has seized me as a reader for more than ten years, every time I read, every time I say, and every time I repeat this first, apparently simple sentence of a r�cit from...
Eight. The Imperative of Transparency: Celui qui ne m’accompagnait pas
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To engage with a philosophical question already at work in a narrative, or rather, a récit, such as Maurice Blanchot’s Celui qui ne m’accompagnait pas (The One Who Was Standing Apart from Me), or to engage with one that may illuminate it—does this not require a prior philosophical reading to first locate such a question, or to establish the narrative’s philosophical...
Nine. “As Though with a New Beginning”: Le dernier homme
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Maurice Blanchot’s The Last Man (1987), originally published as Le dernier homme (1957), addresses the philosophical question of the last man and, more broadly, life, death, and the limits of knowledge. Is Blanchot’s last man simply an individual who comes at the end of the human species, or does he perhaps stand for all of the long history of...
Ten. Space and Beyond: L’attente l’oubli
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L’attente l’oubli (Awaiting Oblivion)1 occupies a singular place in Blanchot’s oeuvre. The way it begins suggests that it is the next in a series of narrative works that he had been writing since 1941. But unlike every other work in that series, it appeared without a generic marker. Its relation to the broad movement from roman to récit that Blanchot’s narrative...
Eleven. Weary Words: L’entretien infini
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According to a letter of 13 February  addressed to Dominique Aury, at the time general secretary of La Nouvelle Revue française, the influential literary journal in which many of his best-known essays and articles first appeared, Maurice Blanchot by autumn 1965, following Faux pas (1943), Lautréamont et Sade (1949), La part du feu (1949), L’espace littéraire...
Twelve. Neutral War: L’instant de ma mort
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How does art approach the experience of death? Perhaps no other question underwrites Maurice Blanchot’s narratives and critical writings with such consistency and urgency. Blanchot’s final récit, The Instant of My Death, punctuates a long career devoted to thinking of death outside of Hegel’s negativity and Heidegger’s being-toward-death; neither dialectical...
Bibliography of Writings by Maurice Blanchot
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Notes on Contributors
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Page Count: 352
Publication Year: 2010