(Re)Writing, (Re)Reading: Maurice Blanchot and The Space of Literature


Rebecca Miller

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Maurice Blanchot wants to change the way we experience art. A 20th century French theorist, the enigmatic Blanchot was influenced by Martin Heidegger, Georges Bataille, and Emmanuel Levinas, and has shaped the work of, among others, Jacques Derrida and Jean-Paul Sartre. His seminal work, The Space of Literature , meditates on the intersection of literature and philosophy by unwinding each discipline into something unrecognizable. Rather than reducing literature to a cache of meanings deposited by history, Blanchot calls our attention to the inevitable point in literature where writing exceeds the limitations put upon it by an act of interpretation. For Blanchot, there is no secret within a text other than the secret of its own possibility. However, Blanchot?s depiction of how art alters our experience of reality is bleak, often maddening. Literature is a movement towards death, an encounter with absence, a restless exile, a doubled nostalgia. And yet, at multiple points in The Space of Literature , Blanchot writes of this abyssal encounter as liberating. In my paper, I will use Marguerite Duras? The Malady of Death to analyze the energizing power of Blanchot?s literary criticism as it interlocks with romantic love. I will show how the lovers? relationship yokes bleakness to fascination, drawing both character and reader to a place where, as finite beings, they are able to encounter the infinite.


Damian Stocking




Ford Research Endowment

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