A passage from Blanchot’s Literature and the Right to Death

Blanchot’s work, especially the literary criticism, is difficult to understand and not wise to excerpt because each piece of the argument (often developed in long paragraphs) builds on the other, but even so, I found this particular passage interesting and worth sharing:


The reader makes the work; as he reads it, he creates it; he is its real author, he is the consciousness and the living substance of the written thing; and so the author now has only one goal, to write for that reader and to merge with him. A hopeless endeavor. Because the reader has no use for a work written for him, what he wants is precisely an alien work in which he can discover something unknown, a different reality, a separate mind capable of transforming him and which he can transform into himself. An author who is writing specifically for a public is not really writing: it is the public that is writing, and for this reason the public can no longer be a reader; reading only appears to exist, actually it is nothing. This is why works created to be read are meaningless: no one reads them. This is why it is dangerous to write for other people, in order to evoke the speech of others and reveal them to themselves: the fact is that other people do not want to hear their own voices; they want to hear someone else’s voice, a voice that is real, profound, troubling like the truth. (364-365, Literature and the Right to Death, Maurice Blanchot from The Station Hill Blanchot Reader, trans. by Lydia Davis)

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Published on August 21, 2017 17:09
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