Maurice BlanchotA Critical Biography

Maurice BlanchotA Critical Biography

Christophe Bident

Print publication date: 2019

ISBN: 9780823281763

Publisher: Fordham University Press

Abstract

Maurice Blanchot (1907–2003) was one of the most important writers of the French twentieth century. His novels, shorter narratives, literary criticism, and fragmentary texts exercised great influence over writers, artists, and philosophers. As a journalist and political activist, he had a public side that matched his secret and mysterious side as someone who refused to be interviewed or photographed. Maurice Blanchot: A Critical Biography, the only full-length account of Blanchot’s itinerary, therefore attempts to carry out an impossible bio-graphy. It does so by drawing on unpublished letters and on interviews with the writer’s very close friends. Beyond this, it is a theoretical work that follows the genealogy of a thinking that is at once imaginative and speculative, at once aligned with literary modernity and a close companion and friend of philosophy. It is a historical work, unpacking the ‘transformation of convictions’ of an author who moved from the far-right in the 1930s to the far-left in the 1950s and after. And it is of course a biography, showing the strong links between the author’s life and an œuvre which nonetheless aspires to anonymity. In these ways, this book claims that Blanchot’s is a life that has become the œuvre, become a literature that bears the traces of that life secretly, even if they are what drives it. Blanchot’s œuvre is reconstituted in all its contexts, at a time when the critics who attack it, just like those who elevate it in unthinking fascination, often produce one-dimensional readings.

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