Reviewed by Gerald Bruns, University of Notre Dame One of the interesting features of French intellectual life during the last century is that -- in contrast to its German and Anglo-American counterparts -- its disciplinary boundaries were relatively unguarded. One effect was the appearance of an anomaly like Maurice Blanchota critical essayist, a writer of experimental fiction among other kinds of textsand a clandestine companion of philosophers who were themselves frequently anomalous in virtue of the density or eccentricity of their writings: The term "modernity" here possesses a double edge.
Biography and Intellectual Itinerary a.
His family was conservative and Catholic; his father encouraged Blanchot and his siblings to practice Latin at the kitchen-table. Blanchot studied Philosophy and German at the University of Strasbourg, which at the time boasted one of the most extensive libraries in France. It was here, around orthat Blanchot first met Emmanuel Levinas, and the two became life-long friends.
It was around this time that Blanchot began his first collaborations with the journals of the French far-right. An exhaustive examination of all articles signed by Blanchot during the s, however, reveals no instances of racially-exclusionary language or overt anti-Semitism.
In his later writings, Blanchot addresses his dubious political commitments of the s, seeking to disambiguate his own youthful involvement in reactionary politics from the anti-Semitism of his one-time associates. With the outbreak of war in Europe, Blanchot momentarily withdrew from political writing and concentrated his efforts on the writing of fictional texts and literary criticism.
His first novel, Thomas the Obscure, was published inmeeting initially with poor reviews in the Parisian press. A second novel, Aminadab, was published a year later, in During this time, Blanchot was already beginning to develop a distinctive, literary critical voice.
The spring of was a difficult time for both men. Bataille became quite ill and temporarily left Paris for Samois, while Blanchot himself departed for his family-home in Quain. With the surrender of the German army in Paris, on August 25, the war effectively came to an end for Blanchot, who was on the move between Paris and various locales in the south of France throughout and By this point, Blanchot was producing a new critical essay for publication virtually every couple of weeks.
Indeed, it is perhaps for the writings found within The Space of Literature that Blanchot is most widely-known. If the story of Orpheus and Eurydice is important in this context, it is because Orpheus shows us, in turning back to gaze at Eurydice, a concern for the origin of the work, its absence and inspiration, which overrides any interest in its status as a completed and consummated work.
In turning to view Eurydice, Orpheus ruins the work of bringing her out of the darkness, and yet this ruination, Blanchot insists, in his June essay, reveals what is most essential to literature, namely, its concern for the impossibility and palpable absence that reside at its origin.
Here, Blanchot provocatively juxtaposes two versions of the literary image. It places the thing in question at a distance from us in order to help us understand it in its ideality, thus facilitating productive knowledge.
Here, the seductive gleam of the image refers us not to the absence of the thing, but to the distance and difference that always separates each thing from itself—precluding any possibility for a neat, teleological recuperation. In refusing to subordinate difference to identity and distance to presence, Blanchot is already anticipating the ascendency of the simulacral that will play such a prominent role in the post-structuralist theories of the decades to come.
When the Time ComesThe One Who Did Not Accompany Meand The Last Manin which plot-development and characterization are pared-down to an absolute minimum, as if to highlight the dislocation of presence and the disruption of time to which these texts each bear witness.2 Maurice Blanchot, “The Gaze of Orpheus” originally published in French in is translated in Gaze of Orpheus and Other Literary Essays, Station Hill P., is precisely nocturnal, which is that of the night”.
*The Gaze of Orpheus* and Maurice Blanchot are the quintessential example of the kind of book and author that you'll love if you love this sort of thing--and hate if you don't.
For some, this collection will be fascinating, thought-provoking, inspiring, and monstermanfilm.coms: 1. Blanchot, MauriceSitney, P. monstermanfilm.com Gaze Of Orpheus, And Other Literary Essays.
Barrytown, N.Y.: Station Hill Press, Print. These citations may not conform precisely to your selected citation style. Please use this display as a guideline and modify as needed. Spaces will separate tags. Use. Maurice Blanchot (September 27, – February 20, ) was a French pre-war leader of the Young Right, philosopher, literary theorist and writer of fiction.
Blanchot was a distinctly modern writer who broke down generic boundaries, particularly between literature and philosophy/5(). New Criticism.
A literary movement that started in the late s and s and originated in reaction to traditional criticism that new critics saw as largely concerned with matters extraneous to the text, e.g., with the biography or psychology of the author or the work's relationship to literary history.
Blanchot, MauriceSitney, P. monstermanfilm.com Gaze Of Orpheus, And Other Literary Essays. Barrytown, N.Y.: Station Hill Press, Print. These citations may not conform precisely to your selected citation style.
Please use this display as a guideline and modify as needed. Spaces will separate tags.