Maurice Blanchot and the Literature of Transgression

Maurice Blanchot and the Literature of Transgression

John Gregg

Language: English

Pages: 241


Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub

This study of Blanchot examines the problematic interaction between the two forms of discourse, critical and fictional, that comprise the writer's oeuvre. The result elucidates the thought of one of the most important figures on the French intellectual scene of the past half-century. The author organizes his discussion around the notion of transgression, which Blanchot himself took over from Georges Bataille, as a paradigm capable of accounting for the relationships that exist in the textual economies formed by author, work and reader. The text includes close readings of two representative works of fiction, "Le Tres-Haut" and "L'Attente l'oubli", in an effort to trace Blanchot's evolution as a creator of narratives and to ascertain how his fiction can be seen as constituting a mise en oeuvre of the concerns he treats in his criticism. The book concludes with an assessment of Blanchot's place in the recent history of French critical theory.

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appears as the object recedes into its image, belongs to a temporality of incessant return rather than to one defined in terms of an absolute beginning and end is evident, for the uneliminable il y a is what there is “quand il n’y a plus de monde” and “quand il n’y a pas encore de monde.” The end of history, when 30 CHAPTER TWO there is no longer any world, and the beginning of history, when there is not yet a world, overlap. They share the common denominator of the il y a, and the “end” is a

while on sick leave, we will be able to see how Blanchot depicts writing and reading (as a member of the State’s bureaucracy, Sorge is a skilled exegete of the Law) in a narrative setting. Sorge’s ambivalent attitude toward the conflicting exigencies of his writing and his work as functionary testifies to the inadequacy of polit- 6 INTRODUCTION ical and aesthetic systems based on representation and implies a critique of the notion of Sartrean commitment, the posture that the intellectual/

between the tache humide and the chiffon: “Ce chiffon était un morceau d’étoffe rouge très brillant . . . et je le voyais se mêlant dangereusement à des immondices, blotti, brillant et intouchable, dans le seau aux ordures” (225–26).92 The bucket is situated directly beneath a pipe that runs along one of the walls of his room, and the pipe is sweating. Sorge follows closely the progress of each droplet as it forms on the pipe and grows in size until it falls under its own weight into the bucket,

In an odd sort of way, just as Blanchot gives precedence to the cadaver over the intramundane person with a recognizable identity, we might say (although Blanchot does not explicitly do so himself) that Narcissus’s punishment precedes his transgression: the Narcissus who spurns Echo’s love (his transgression) is but one manifestation rendered possible by the neutral space created by the “dédoublement initial,” Narcissus’s fascinated gaze which is unwittingly directed at itself (his punishment).

in the existence of the parole is that as it approaches it escapes, appears here in all its different guises. There are flagrants délits at every turn. The noli is repeatedly violated, as the reading of the narrator gives way to the transgressive writing of the protagonists which they in turn seek to read, while the narrator finds himself engaged in transgressive writing. The 160 CHAPTER SIX strength of the noli is so ephemeral—at one moment it is in force, at the next it is not—and the

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