Political Writings, 1953-1993

Political Writings, 1953-1993


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Maurice Blanchot is a towering yet enigmatic figure in twentieth-century French thought. A lifelong friend of Levinas, he had a major influence on Foucault, Derrida, Nancy, and many others. Both his fiction and his criticism played a determining role in how postwar French philosophy was written, especially in its intense concern with the question of writing as such. Never an academic, he published most of his critical work in periodicals and led a highly private life. Yet his writing included an often underestimated public and political dimension.

This posthumously published volume collects his political writings from 1953 to 1993, from the French-Algerian War and the mass movements of May 1968 to postwar debates about the Shoah and beyond. A large number of the essays, letters, and fragments it contains were written anonymously and signed collectively, often in response to current events. The extensive editorial work done for the original French edition makes a major contribution to our understanding of Blanchot’s work.

The political stances Blanchot adopts are always complicated by the possibility that political thought remains forever to be discovered. He reminds us throughout his writings both how facile and how hard it is to refuse established forms of authority.

The topics he addresses range from the right to insubordination in the French-Algerian War to the construction of the Berlin Wall and repression in Eastern Europe; from the mass movements of 1968 to personal responses to revelations about Heidegger, Levinas, and Robert Antelme, among others.

When read together, these pieces form a testament to what political writing could be: not merely writing about the political or politicizing the written word, but unalterably transforming the singular authority of the writer and his signature.

Cet ouvrage, publié dans le cadre d'un programme d'aide à la publication bénéficie du soutien financier du ministère des Affaires étrangès et du Service culturel de l'ambassade de France aux Etats-Unis, ainsi que de l'appui de FACE (French American Cultural Exchange).

This work, published as part of a program providing publication assistance, received financial support from the Cultural Services of the French Embassy in the United States and FACE (French American Cultural Exchange).

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780823229987
Publisher: Fordham University Press
Publication date: 09/04/2010
Series: French Voices
Edition description: 2
Pages: 264
Product dimensions: 5.90(w) x 8.90(h) x 0.70(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.

Kevin Hart (Foreword By)
Kevin Hart is Chairman and Edwin B. Kyle Professor of Christian Studies in the Department of Religious Studies at the University of Virginia. He also holds courtesy professorships in the Departments of English and French. In addition, he is Eric D’Arcy Professor of Philosophy at the Australian Catholic University. Among his recent scholarly books are Jean- Luc Marion: The Essential Writings (2012), Clandestine Encounters: Philosophy in the Narratives of Maurice Blanchot (2010), and The Exorbitant: Emmanuel Levinas between Jews and Christians (2010). His collections of poetry are Flame Tree: Selected Poems (2002), Young Rain (2008), and Morning Knowledge (2011).

Zakir Paul (Translator)
ZAKIR PAUL is a Ph.D. candidate in the Department of Comparative Literature at Princeton University.

Table of Contents

Translator's Note ix

Foreword: The Friendship of the No Kevin Hart xi

Introduction: "Affirming the Rupture" Zakir Paul xxxi

Chronology lvii

Part I Le 14 Juillet and the Revue Internationale Project, 1953-1962

An Approach to Communism (Needs, Values) 3

Refusal 7

The Essential Perversion 8

Declaration of the Right to Insubordination in the Algerian War [Manifesto of the 121] 15

Update 18

[The Declaration of the Right to Insubordination that we have signed] 20

[The Declaration ... is not a protest manifesto] 22

[For us, the first fact] 24

[It is as a writer] 26

[Interrogation with the judge] 29

[Questioned by the judge] 32

[First I would like to say] 33

[Maurice Blanchot to Jean-Paul Sartre] 36

Letters from the Revue Internationale 39

[The gravity of the project] 56

[A review can be the expression] 57

[A Review without any division] 59

Memorandum on the "Course of Things" 60

Course of Things 62

The Course of the World 67

The Conquest of Space 70

Berlin 73

Part II The Student-Writer Action Committee, the Review Comité, 1968

Tracts of the Student-Writer Action Committee (Sorbonne-Censier)

[The solidarity that we assert here] 79

[A government does not govern] 79

[By the power of refusal] 80

Crime 80

[Letter to a representative of Yugoslav radio-television] 82

Comité: The First Issue

[The possible characteristics] 85

In a State of War 86

Affirming the Rupture 88

[Today] 89

[Political death] 89

[The streets] 91

[Communism without heirs] 92

[For a long rime, brutality] 93

[Tracts, posters, bulletins] 94

Letter to Ilija Bojovic 95

[That the immense constraint] 97

[Exemplary acts] 98

[Exemplary acts] 99

[Two characteristic innovations] 99

[A rupture in time: revolution] 100

[For Comrade Castro] 100

[Ideological surrender] 102

(Clandestine resistance out in the open] 103

[Reading Marx] 103

On the Movement 106

Paranoia in Power (The Dialectics of Repression: A Small Contribution to Research) 110

Part III Interventions, 1970-1993

Refusing the Established Order 117

Thinking the Apocalypse 119

Do Not Forget 124

Yes, Silence Is Necessary for Writing 130

"Factory-Excess," or Infinity in Pieces 131

In the Night That Is Watched Over 133

For Friendship 134

Our Clandestine Companion 144

The Ascendant Word; or, Are We Still Worthy of Poetry? 153

Encounters (On the Resistance and May 68) 161

Peace, Peace Far and Near 162

Letter to Blandine Jeanson 167

Our Responsibility (On Nelson Mandela) 168

What Is Closest to Me 170

Writing Committed to Silence 171

(I think it suits a writer better] (On Nationalism and Internationalism) 173

[The Inquisition destroyed the Catholic religion] (On Salman Rushdie) 174

Notes 175

Index of Names 199

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