Maurice Blanchot

By Ullrich Haase; William Large | Go to book overview

WHY BLANCHOT?

The French writer and theorist Maurice Blanchot is one of the most important figures of the twentieth century. He has perhaps more than anyone else looked at literature as a serious philosophical question. We do not find in his work and analyses of texts any dubious statements about the value of works, whether this novel is better than that one, or whether this novelist can be ranked higher than another; rather his writing continually circles around the same question of the possibility of literature and the specific demand that literature poses to thought. It is through this insistent meditation on the possibility of literature that Blanchot has influenced a whole generation of contemporary French theorists, such as Jacques Derrida (1930-), Paul de Man (1919-1983) and Michel Foucault (1926-84). What has come to be known as post-structuralism, which has had such a decisive impact on Anglo-American critical theory, is completely unthinkable without him.

Blanchot's writings can be divided into four types: political journalism, literary reviews, novel writing and finally a hybrid style that appears to escape any genre definition, as it is a mixture of both philosophical and literary content expressed in a highly aphoristic and enigmatic style. It might be tempting to describe these different styles chronologically. The problem with this is that the blurring of the distinction between literature, literary theory and philosophy is the point of Blanchot's literary theory and not merely a contingent factor of

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Maurice Blanchot
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents v
  • Series Editor's Preface vii
  • Abbreviations xi
  • Why Blanchot? 1
  • Key Ideas 9
  • 1 - What is Literature? 11
  • 2 - Language and Literature 25
  • 3 - Death and Philosophy 37
  • 4 - Death 51
  • 5 - Literature and Ethics 67
  • 6 - Blanchot as Nationalist 85
  • 7 - Ethics and Politics 97
  • 8 - The Literary Community 111
  • After Blanchot 129
  • Further Reading 135
  • Internet Resources 142
  • Index 143
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