Towards a new literary idiom : the fiction and criticism of Maurice Blanchot from 1971 to 1975
This thesis has its starting-point in a recognition that, so far, Maurice Blanchot's work has been considered as posing its critic an impossible problem. In recognising this, however, it does not seek merely to provide advance justification for its own shortcomings. On the contrary, it sets out to demonstrate that the impossibility of accounting for Blanchot's work arises not simply because he is a 'difficult' author, but because his sole ambition has been to call into question the entire categoric framework of possibility in terms of which we seek to approach him. The task it seeks to fulfil is thus to locate the gradually occurring break with traditional categories which is at the heart of Blanchot's work. On the basis of close attention to the variants between his finished works and the original texts which constitute them, it seeks to transform his work from the forbidding, self-sufficient universe it is generally taken to be, and, by replacing Blanchot in his neriod, to show how he brings about a gradually evolving transmutation of the forms and structures within which literature is traditionally contained. The period it examines lies between the appearance of Thomas l'obscure in 1941 and that of L'Espace littéraire in 1955. More precisely, by detailed study of L'Arrêt de mort and of the development of his criticism from La Part du feu to L'Espace littéraire, it seeks to reveal how, in the domain of fiction and in that of criticism, Blanchot sets about subverting the very structure of language, preparing the way for the new literary idiom which is his today, and in which fiction and theory coexist in a single philosophical discourse of great originality.