Abstract

Abstract:

This article is centered on Antonin Artaud’s Correspondence with Jacques Rivière (1924). At the beginning of his career, Artaud submitted a few poems to the leading French review of literature of the time, the Nouvelle Revue Française. Jacques Rivière, the editor of the review, politely refused them, but expressed a desire to meet him. This initiated an exchange of letters between the two men that eventually became Artaud’s first publication. Drawing on the concept of the potlatch—defined by Marcel Mauss as an agonistic gift-giving relationship structured around the need to signify one’s power over the other—I argue that Artaud conceives of the letter as a means to provoke an ever-increasing response from his correspondent. Using letters that Artaud wrote at key moments of his career, I show that the gift-giving relationship culminates in Rivière’s offer to publish their exchange. In this way, Artaud establishes himself as an author at the expense of his symbolic first reader and editor.

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Additional Information

ISSN
1080-6539
Print ISSN
0300-7162
Pages
pp. 50-73
Launched on MUSE
2018-02-03
Open Access
No
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