Although Thomas is constantly reassured that he can leave the building, he seems to be separated forever from the world he has left behind. The story consists of Thomas's frustrated attempts to clarify his status as a resident in the building and his misguided interactions with the cast of sickly, depraved, or in some way deformed characters he meets, none of them ever quite what they seem to be. Aminadab, the man who according to legend guards the entrance to the building's underground spaces, is only one of the mysteries reified by the rumors circulating among the residents.
Written in a prose that is classical and at times lyrical, Blanchot's novel functions as an allegory referring, above all, to the wandering and striving movement of writing itself.
About the Author
Maurice Blanchot is one of France's leading authors of fiction and theory, including The Most High and Awaiting Oblivion, both available from the University of Nebraska Press. Jeff Fort is a lecturer in the Department of French at the University of Southern California and has translated Blanchot's "The Instant of My Death" for Conjunctions.