Maurice Blanchot

By Ullrich Haase; William Large | Go to book overview

1

WHAT IS LITERATURE?

If you are someone who enjoys reading fiction, then the question 'What is literature?' will probably one day come into your mind. This question seems fairly clear and no more difficult than 'What is a dog?' or 'What is a tree?' We might suggest, for example, the following definition: literature is a form of writing, whether in prose or verse, that is recognized for its creative and imaginative value. Not everyone will agree with this and some might suggest alternatives, but in arguing about definitions in this way, we are assuming that it is actually possible to define the term 'literature'.

It is this assumption which Blanchot would wish us to question. The uniqueness of his critical work is that he does not offer us one more definition of literature, which we might compare favourably or not to others, rather he argues that the process of defining this term is fraught with difficulty. A good example of this would be his debate with the French philosopher Jean-Paul Sartre (1905-80). In 1947, Sartre published a highly influential book called What is Literature?, which argued that the function of the writer was to engage in the political struggles of history. Blanchot's response, in his essay 'Literature and the Right to Death' (originally published in two parts in 1947-8; in SBR 359-99 and WF 300-44), which perhaps marks the beginning point of his own literary criticism, is highly ambiguous. He seems, first of all, to be offering an opposing definition of literature: literature has its own meaning that has nothing at all to do with morality and politics. We

-11-

Notes for this page

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items
Notes
Cite this page

Cited page

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Note: primary sources have slightly different requirements for citation. Please see these guidelines for more information.

Cited page

Bookmark this page
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
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this book

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen
Items saved from this book
  • Bookmarks
  • Highlights & Notes
  • Citations
/ 147

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Search by... Author
    Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.