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The Unavowable Community


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About the Author

Maurice Blanchot is one of the most enigmatic and influential figures in modern French writing yet no interview, no biographical sketch, and hardly any photographs have ever been published of him. His work encompasses the writing of novels and recits as well as articles and books of philosophical (or to be precise anti-philosophical) criticism. He is one of the few significant theorists of literature of the last century to have worked outside a university context, yet for fifty years, he has been the most consistent champion of modern literature and its tradition in French letters.


For French thinker Blanchot, community can exist at many levelsin social groups, in the restricted ``community of two'' that unites lovers or friends, in sets whose members run the risk of losing their identities by merging with a collective ego. Indeed, the two essays in this short, frustrating book are most interesting when they deal with the perils of community. Blanchot cites the total communion that led a cult in Guyana to collective suicide. He also deconstructs the communitarian yearnings of French writer Georges Bataille. In the 1930s, Bataille and others sought refuge in myth and worshipped sensuality; their secret society held meetings around trees that had been struck by lightning. In Blanchot's second essay, on Marguerite Duras, he waxes lyrical over the May 1968 Paris student revolt. Both essays are difficult and often incomprehensible, due to either Blanchot's clotted, mind-numbing prose or the translationor both. (October)

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