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Blanchot Romantique

A Collection of Essays


Edited By John McKeane and Hannes Opelz

The work of French writer and essayist Maurice Blanchot (1907-2003) is without doubt among the most challenging the twentieth century has to offer. Contemporary debate in literature, philosophy, and politics has yet to fully acknowledge its discreet but enduring impact. Arising from a conference that took place in Oxford in 2009, this book sets itself a simple, if daunting, task: that of measuring the impact and responding to the challenge of Blanchot’s work by addressing its engagement with the Romantic legacy, in particular (but not only) that of the Jena Romantics. Drawing upon a wide range of philosophers and poets associated directly or indirectly with German Romanticism (Kant, Fichte, Goethe, Jean Paul, Novalis, the Schlegels, Hölderlin), the authors of this volume explore how Blanchot’s fictional, critical, and fragmentary texts rewrite and rethink the Romantic demand in relation to questions of criticism and reflexivity, irony and subjectivity, narrative and genre, the sublime and the neutre, the Work and the fragment, quotation and translation. Reading Blanchot with or against key twentieth-century thinkers (Benjamin, Foucault, de Man), they also examine Romantic and post-Romantic notions of history, imagination, literary theory, melancholy, affect, love, revolution, community, and other central themes that Blanchot’s writings deploy across the century from Jean-Paul Sartre to Jean-Luc Nancy. This book contains contributions in both English and French.


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Political Romanticism 245


Political Romanticism Martin Crowley Even now, now, very now Le hiatus théorique est absolu; la coupure, de fait, décisive. Entre le monde libéral-capitaliste, notre monde, et le présent de l’exigence communiste (présent sans présence), il n’y a que le trait d’union d’un désastre, d’un changement d’astre. — Maurice Blanchot, ‘Le Communisme sans héritage’1 When might the revolution arrive? I want to make a start by asking this question in this way, to avoid two risks. First, the risk of the future tense (‘when will the revolution happen?’), with its appeal to an eschatological historiography and the attendant, murderous economy of ends and means. Secondly, the risk of the past tense (‘when did the revolution happen?’): namely, the complacency of our contemporary common sense, which consigns revolutions to a dark, bloody age from which we would now have emerged, thankfully, into the light of the eternal, post-ideological present – and which thereby aligns itself smilingly with the ideological distractions masking this moment’s ongoing, bloody exploitation.2 Guarding against these risks, if possible, I want to ask whether we can – following Blanchot – think of the time of something like revolutionary activity (which we might also call revolt or refusal) as escaping these two alternatives: that is to say, as neither the time of Romantic messianism, nor a gap, a messianic interruption or turning-point which would, happily, have always already receded. I want to suggest that, 1 In EP, 113–15 (p. 115). 2 On this,...

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