Levinas, Blanchot, Jabes: Figures of Estrangement

Synopsis

"Philosopher Levinas, novelist and essayist Blanchot, poet Jabes, all three constitute the rich intellectual soil from which more visible thinkers such as Derrida and Foucault have emerged.... A user-friendly essay on a very difficult subject.... All students of literary theory will want to have this book". -- Jean-Michel Rabate, University of Pennsylvania

"Among the best things written in English on (these writers).... Presents a lucid and intelligent reading of all three authors, centering on their relationships to Jewish themes and concerns. It demonstrates the intimacy and near-complicity that connects them, but also the distance that separates them from one another.... A major work of scholarship". -- Steven Shaviro, University of Washington

In the first critical study to consider together the work of Emmanuel Levinas (Lithuanian Jew, philosopher), Maurice Blanchot (French Catholic, novelist and literary theorist, and Edmond Jabes (Egyptian Jew, poet), Gary D. Mole demonstrates and compares the ways in which these writers have been instrumental in raising those issues of Jewishness that have been so central to contemporary postmodern thought.

The questions of writing and exile, the opposition between ethics and metaphysics, and the central disaster of the Shoah emerge as the dominant themes of each writer, and Mole explores the ways in which they borrow from, respond to, and challenge each other in a rich intellectual dialogue. Specifically, Mole traces their engagement with Jewish tradition and thought, exploring their overlapping considerations of the etranger; of Revelation and the Law through the figure of Moses; and of ethics, dialogue, and silence in the story ofAbra(ha)m. Finally, he looks at the ways each identifies the imperative of responding to the Shoah and its repercussions for philosophical, fictional, and poetic discourse.

Judicious close readings and an accessible style help t