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The Silence in Progress of Dante, Mallarmé, and Joyce

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Samuel Slote

The writings of Dante, Mallarmé, and Joyce are regarded as some of the most difficult and obscure works of their respective periods. In different ways, each of these writers ventured to produce a «Book of All Earthly Experience,» and yet all three - again, in different ways - realized this goal by silencing the Book even as they wrote it. In this study, Sam Slote proposes that the relationship between the Book and silence is the source of the obscurity of these three writers. Following the writings of Maurice Blanchot, Slote examines the three writers in turn to argue that their work paradoxically affirms a vast silence that can never be achieved because it is wrecked by the very project of writing silence.