Death Now: Chronicles of Intellectual Life, 1944

Death Now: Chronicles of Intellectual Life, 1944


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The book offers both literary journalism from one of the twentieth century’s major writers, as well as a snapshot of the complex, conflicting currents of literary and intellectual activity during the last months of German occupation and Vichy government in France.

By 1944, the days of Germany’s domination of Europe are numbered, and defeat seems no more than a matter of time. In occupied France, there is renewed activity on the political and the cultural fronts, in anticipation of the liberation that now appears inevitable. Already the author of two novels and a volume of criticism, Maurice Blanchot is henceforth fully established as a major figure in what will soon be post-war France.

Blanchot’s position in this new order is problematical, however. Despite having discreetly supported the Resistance, he makes clear that his only true allegiance is to literature. Against the tide of his own emerging reputation, he is increasingly drawn to silence as the only valid response to what the world has become. For him, ruin cannot be reconstructed with the aid of literature, because ruin is the mode in which literature most authentically exists. Disaster has long been the writer’s lot, with which the world has only now caught up. Politics and literature coexist in what he will call the “abyss of the present,” and neither offers any prospect for the future.

This grim and potentially nihilistic message seems to make Blanchot into little more than an anachronism in the emerging post-war world. Yet his attitude is the very opposite of aloofness. Silence becomes for him an intense search for a language commensurate with “circumstances that literature can still neither express directly nor distort”. Beyond this volume, which completes the English publication of his wartime literary journalism, his writing over the next fifty years will patiently establish a margin in which new forms thought will offer themselves to a new age.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780823281794
Publisher: Fordham University Press
Publication date: 10/02/2018
Pages: 176
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x (d)

About the Author

Maurice Blanchot (Author)
Maurice Blanchot (1907–2003)—writer, critic, and journalist—was one of the most important voices in twentieth-century literature and thought. His books include Thomas the Obscure, The Instant of my Death, The Writing of the Disaster, and The Unavowable Community.

Michael Holland (Translator)
Michael Holland is a Fellow of St Hugh’s College, Oxford.

Table of Contents

Introduction by Michael Holland 1

The Mystery of Criticism 11

Return to the Source 16

From One Novel to Another 21

The Four Gospels 27

From Jean- Paul to Giraudoux 31

A Diary without Episodes 36

On the Subject of Language 40

The Romance of Mademoiselle Aïssé 45

The Joy of Storytelling 49

Outlawed Idols 53

The Art of André Dhôtel 58

Balzac’s Way of Working 63

The Gothic Novel 68

The Secrets of the Dream 73

A Novel by Jarry 78

Novellas and Stories 84

Chateaubriand’s Secret 88

Fantastic Novels 93

Air and Dreams 97

Joyce’s First Novel 102

A Secret Tone 107

The Literary I 112

Charles Cros 117

The Birth of Rome 122

William Blake 127

On the Various Ways of Dying 132

Pages by Paul Claudel 137

Narratives 142

Léon Bloy 147

Poems 153

The Concern for Sincerity 160

No Man’s Son 165

The Magical Experience of Henri Michaux 169

A Chronology of the “Chronicles of Intellectual Life”
Collected in Faux pas 175

Notes 179

Index 195

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