Maurice Blanchot

Maurice Blanchot is one of the most enigmatic and influential figures in modern French writing yet no interview, no biographical sketch, and hardly any photographs have ever been published of him. His work encompasses the writing of novels and recits as well as articles and books of philosophical (or to be precise anti-philosophical) criticism. He is one of the few significant theorists of literature of the last century to have worked outside a university context, yet for fifty years, he has been the most consistent champion of modern literature and its tradition in French letters.

For more biographical information see http://www.guardian.co.uk/news/2003/mar/01/guardianobituaries.booksobituaries

 

Death Sentence

Maurice Blanchot

This long awaited reprint of a book about which John Hollander wrote: "A masterful version of one of the most remarkable novels in any language since World War II," is the story of....

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Maurice Blanchot

This long awaited reprint of a book about which John Hollander wrote: "A masterful version of one of the most remarkable novels in any language since World War II," is the story of the narrator's relations with two women, one terminally ill, the other found motionless by him in a darkened room after a bomb explosion has separated them. "Through more than 40 years, the French writer Maurice Blanchot has produced an astonishing body of fiction and criticism," writes Gilbert Sorrentino in the New York Review of Books, and John Updike in The New Yorker: "Blanchot's prose gives an impression, like Henry James, of carrying meanings so fragile they might crumble in transit."


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Gaze of Orpheus, The

“When we come to write the history of criticism for the 1940 to 1980 period, it will be found that Blanchot, together with Sartre, made French'discourse' possible..."

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Maurice Blanchot and Lydia Davis, trans.

“When we come to write the history of criticism for the 1940 to 1980 period, it will be found that Blanchot, together with Sartre, made French “discourse” possible, both in its relentlessness and its acuity….This selection…is exemplary for its clearly translated and well-chosen excerpts from Blanchot’s many influential books. Reading him now, and in this form, I feel once more the excitement of discovering Blanchot in the 1950s…”-Geoffrey Hartman


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Madness of the Day, The

Jacques Derrida writes of The Madness of the Day that it is “a story whose title runs wild and drives the reader mad…"

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Maurice Blanchot

Jacques Derrida writes of this book that it is “a story whose title runs wild and drives the reader mad…la folie du jour, the madness of today, of the day today, which leads to the madness that comes from the day, is born of it, as well as the madness of the day itself, itself mad….La folie du jour is a story of madness, of that madness that consists in seeing the light, vision or visibility, to see beyond what is visible, is not merely ‘to have a vision’ in the usual sense of the word, but to see-beyond-sight, to see-sight-beyond-sight….The story obscures the sun…with a blinding light.” – Jacques Derrida (in Deconstruction and Criticism)


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One Who Was Standing Apart From Me, The

This work takes the form of a conversation, an interview. An obsessive questioning back and forth builds up Blanchot’s narrative, with its sense - shared with Kafka’s famous “doorkeeper” parable - that behind each question lies the spooky possibility of a further, more imposing, more insoluble question...

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Maurice Blanchot

This work takes the form of a conversation, an interview. An obsessive questioning back and forth builds up Blanchot’s narrative, with its sense - shared with Kafka’s famous “doorkeeper” parable - that behind each question lies the spooky possibility of a further, more imposing, more insoluble question. Thematically, powerlessness, inertia, insufficient speech, weariness, falling, faltering - everything tied to a negative or nonexistent value in ordinary discourse - is given value here by its being articulated, moved into writing and thought. What’s insignificant or worthless gathers weight through its troubling persistence, its failure to disappear. The “endless” conversation of Blanchot’s writing turns “fiction” toward an experience of listening - a far cry from the storytelling most fiction (still) takes itself to be.


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Station Hill Blanchot Reader, The

This new reader from Station Hill (Blanchot’s longtime publisher in the United States) is six books in one, and the first and only collection of Maurice Blanchot’s celebrated fiction and critical/philosophical writing...

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Maurice Blanchot

This new reader from Station Hill (Blanchot’s longtime publisher in the United States) is six books in one, and the first and only collection of Maurice Blanchot’s celebrated fiction and critical/philosophical writing. Regarded both on the European continent and in America as one of the truly great authors of French Post-Modernism, Blanchot’s reputation and readership in English has already established him as a modern classic. The Blanchot Reader brings together a substantial collection of critical and philosophical writings (The Gaze of Orpheus) and the only edition in print in English of his major works of fiction (Thomas the Obscure, Death Sentence, Vicious Circles, The Madness of the Day, When the Time Comes and The One Who Was Standing Apart From Me). General readers and students alike will seek out these essential works by the writer Susan Sontag referred to as “an unimpeachably major voice in modern French literature.”

This new reader from Station Hill (Blanchot’s longtime publisher in the United States) is six books in one, and the first and only collection of Maurice Blanchot’s celebrated fiction and critical/philosophical writing. Regarded both on the European continent and in America as one of the truly great authors of French Post-Modernism, Blanchot’s reputation and readership in English has already established him as a modern classic. The Blanchot Reader brings together a substantial collection of critical and philosophical writings (The Gaze of Orpheus) and the only edition in print in English of his major works of fiction (Thomas the Obscure, Death Sentence, Vicious Circles, The Madness of the Day, When the Time Comes and The One Who Was Standing Apart From Me). General readers and students alike will seek out these essential works by the writer Susan Sontag referred to as “an unimpeachably major voice in modern French literature.”

Maurice Blanchot is now recognized as a major twentieth century philosopher whose influence extends to the works of Derrida, Foucault, Levinas, Lacan and others. Blanchot’s philosophical works explore issues concerning the problematic acts of speech and writing, death and questions of political right—concerns that also shape his fiction. Blanchot’s fiction draws the reader in by upsetting expectations, we are confronted by characters who are in situations they don’t completely understand. The settings are mysterious, almost surreal. As we read further into the story, hoping for greater clarity - why is this character here? Where did he come from?, etc. - meaning and resolution are constantly deferred. The lack of closure in Blanchot’s fiction gives it at an odd kind of suspense and his spare but poetic language contributes to creating a very distinct atmosphere. Within and outside of these philosophical struggles there is the German occupation of France, and Auschwitz. The presence of an arbitrary or absurdist power and the spectre of death hover. Blanchot never concludes his exploration of the these issues, they remain indeterminate, but writing continues, despite its seeming impossibility.

“Maurice Blanchot’s work is an invitation to the reader to join him on those severe and icy slopes of consciousness, to experience what it means to be both fully dead - utterly separated from the world, “a shadow on the sun” - and fully alive. It is an amazing, exhilarating, appalling experience. Station Hill Press should be congratulated for its courage in bringing forth this important but obviously not very commercial enterprise. Blanchot’s work is, as he says, “a force for transformation and creation, made to create enigmas rather than to elucidate them.” For the first time, we are able to see it with some clarity.” – Seminary Co-op Bookstore


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Thomas the Obscure

Before Sartre, before Beckett, before Robbe-Grillet, Maurice Blanchot created the “new novel, ” the ultimate post-modern fiction...
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Maurice Blanchot and Robert Lamberton (Translator)

Before Sartre, before Beckett, before Robbe-Grillet, Maurice Blanchot created the “new novel, ” the ultimate post-modern fiction. Written between 1932 and 1940, Blanchot’s first novel, here brilliantly translated by Robert Lamberton, contains all the remarkable aspects of his famous and perplexing invention, “the ontological narrative”—a tale whose subject is the nature of being itself. This paradoxical work discovers being in the absence of being, mystery in the absence of mystery, both to be searched for limitlessly. As Blanchot launches this endless search in his own masterful way, he transforms the possibilities of the novel. First issued in English in 1973 in a limited edition, this re-issue includes an illuminating essay on translation by Lamberton.


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Unavowable Community, The

The Unavowable Community is an inquiry into the nature and possibility of community, asking whether there can be a community of individuals that is truly “communal"...

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Maurice Blanchot

The Unavowable Community is an inquiry into the nature and possibility of community, asking whether there can be a community of individuals that is truly “communal.” The problem, for Blanchot, is that the very terms of an ideal community make an “avowal” of membership in it a violation of the terms themselves. This meditation ranges from the problematic effects of a defect in language to actual historical experiments in community. The latter involves the life and work of George Bataille whose concerns (e.g. “the negative community”) occupy the foreground of Blanchot’s discussion. Taking as his point of departure an essay by French philosopher Jean-Luc Nancy, Blanchot appears once again as one of the most attentive readers of what is truly challenging in French thought. His deep interest in the fiction of Marguerite Duras extends this inquiry to include “The Community of Lovers,” emerging from certain themes in Duras’ recit, The Malady of Death. As Blanchot’s first direct treatment of a subject that has long figured in or behind his work, this small but highly concentrated book stands as an important addition to his own contribution to literary, philosophical, social, and political thought, figuring as it does at the center of the emerging concern for a redefinition of politics and community. Readers of Blanchot know not to expect answers to the great questions that move his thought - rather, to live with the questions at the new level to which they have been raised in his discourse.


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Vicious Circles

"These early parables of Maurice Blanchot provide a rewarding introduction to a modern master..."

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"These early parables of Maurice Blanchot provide a rewarding introduction to a modern master; they also illuminate with hallucinatory intensity certain consequences of the hopeless and irresistible human longing to communicate through language. The world is still haunted by the ghosts of unspoken and unspeakable words emanating from the deaths here recounted almost fifty years ago." -Harry Mathews


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When the Time Comes

WHEN THE TIME COMES ostensibly chronicles the troubled relations between the narrator - a very ill man - and the two women whose lives he invades...

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Maurice Blanchot

WHEN THE TIME COMES ostensibly chronicles the troubled relations between the narrator - a very ill man - and the two women whose lives he invades. As in all of Blanchot’s intensely subjective fiction, the true subject of the work is the narrator’s consciousness and the process by which his tale emerges through its telling. Powerfully affected by the slightest of events, the narrator responds with a violence that, most disturbingly, appears inevitable.


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