Literary Polemics: Bataille, Sartre, Valéry, Breton


During the 1960s and 1970s, the eruption of theory was presented as an epistemic break, reorganizing the field of questioning both prospectively and retrospectively. In the forefront of this new movement was the influential journal Tel Quel, which both canonized a body of preferred avant-garde texts (both literary and theoretical) and nullified prominent figures from preceding generations. In a broad remapping of French modernism, this book shows how the milieu of Tel Quel transferred myths of the powers of literature inherited from Bataille, Sartre, Valery, and Breton to theory, in the process erasing the traces of these myths and their common ground.