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Death Sentence

3.8  ·  Rating details ·  708 Ratings  ·  57 Reviews
This long awaited reprint of a book about which John Hollander wrote: 'A masterful version of one of the most remarkable novels in any language since World War II,' is the story of the narrator's relations with two women, one terminally ill, the other found motionless by him in a darkened room after a bomb explosion has separated them. 'Through more than 40 years, the Fren ...more
Paperback, 81 pages
Published June 1st 1998 by Station Hill Press @ Barrytown (first published 1948)
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Jan 25, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: prematurely atomic
Recommended to Mariel by: the coldness of a hand
What makes it happen that every time my grave opens, now, I rouse a thought there that is strong enough to bring me back to life? The very derisive laughter of my death.

His "living" proof of events will die before he does. Plaster casts of four hand puppets futures in artificial life support. J. first, a dying life and an undying living. She must be closest to death when they feel she is going to live and precipiced to life when it isn't over for the others already. I didn't wonder that after at
May 06, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: favorites, fiction
A very, very interesting read!
Easy to read and very short so I recommend you to try it!

This book begins very intriguing, with the writer saying he is going to tell about events (in 1938) that were such, that he never could write about them earlier on. That everything he has ever written before was an attempt to write about these events, but that words had been cunning and deceiving. And now he wanted to make an end to it and was going to tell you all bluntly, freely and openly. I was captured ri
Pooya Kiani
بلانشو تکرار می کند ولی ملال آور نمی شود. کیفیت ترجمه برای این نوع متن پایین بود و ارتباط با مولف را مختل می کرد.
Okay, so something was going on in this book with strange people doing strange things in strange rooms in strange hotels in the city of Paris as it falls under German attack in the early days of WW2, etc. and so on...

At least that's what I think is going on. Blanchot releases a torrent of words carry you through a series of events and thoughts and musings and self-reflections and detours and sidebars and words on top of words. In the end, you're where you started, but it's hard to say where you'
Nate D
Jun 03, 2011 rated it it was ok
When I was reading Maurice Blanchot's Aminadab, I'd heard that that was his last "novel", and sure enough, this is an unravelable essay-memoir-story, meandering through apparent memories and introspection, though difficult to judge as actual truth or falsehood. Honestly, the whole here eludes me somewhat but many individual sequences and reflections on mortality and happenstance glisten on their own. Though it's seeming even more diffuse now that I've been away for a month of road-tripping since ...more
Shima Masoumi
متاسفانه ترجمه ي خوبي از بلانشو نبود. ترجيح ميدم متن اصلي رو
بخونم و بعد ريويو رو آپديت كنم.
Oct 14, 2008 rated it it was ok
It's surprising to find an author who writes so well yet cannot construct a simple story. This book suffers from the common ailments of contemporary literature : its meaning is hidden behind a jumble of random stories told in a stream-of-consciousness manner in a non-existent narrative. What ever happened to good stories? Why can't contemporary ideas be put into forms that are at least pleasing to read? When it's a chore to get through a book because there is so little content, I think it's time ...more
Feb 08, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
خودم را تنها در اتاقی حبس کرده ام. درون و بیرون خانه هیچ کس نیست. اما این تنهایی, خود سخن گفتن آغاز کرده , و من هم باید از این تنهایی که سخن می گوید, سخن بگویم, نه به قصد تمسخر, بلکه بدین دلیل که در ورای این تنهایی, تنهایی بزرگ تری مترصد فرصت نشسته است و در ورای این یکی, باز یکی بزرگ تر از آن, و هر یک کلام را در بر می گیرد تا خفه و خاموشش کند, ولی به جای این کار, کلام را در نامتناهی منعکس می کند و نا متناهی انعکاس کلام می شود.

Jun 11, 2007 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: people with brains
Shelves: digested
one of my favorites - i reread sections of it all the time. i like books i can digest in little chunks. is that weird?
Dec 22, 2015 rated it liked it
"That is what makes it so bitter: it seems to have the cruelty of something that gnaws at you, that catches hold of you and entices you, and it actually does catch hold of you, but that is also its secret, and one who has enough sympathy to abandon himself to this coldness finds in it the kindness, the tenderness, and the freedom of a real life."

I read this once and then once again because I felt lost in Blanchot's thoughts and believed my reaction to the first reading was due to a lapse in con
Patrick Robitaille


The original French title of this novel, L'arrêt de mort, can bear two meanings: it is first a "death sentence", but it is also a "stay of execution". This ambiguity is apparently at the heart of this novel, with its two distinct parts and the constant complaints from the narrator about the relative impossibility of finding the words to describe what happens (happened). The first part covers the agony of J., suffering from an incurable disease, experiencing some sort of second wind, only to be

Travelling Sunny
Found a copy of this List book online HERE.

It starts out with the narrator basically confessing that he's trying to write about something that he's had bottled up inside of him forever. And, through the whole book, there's an odd, mysterious aspect that makes you THINK he's going to tell you the secret. But, then he just goes off on some other tangent in some other timeline with some other woman...

I felt stiffed. No story? No plot? No ending? WTF???
من از وقایعی حرف میزنم که به نظر خصوصی میرسند و از وقایع عمومیتر غافلم. این وقایع بسیار مهم بودهاند و همهروزه ذهن مرا به خود مشغول میکردهاند. اما امروزه این وقایع تباه شدهاند. قصه هایشان مرده است و زندگی و لحظههایی که به اقتضای آنها متعلق به من بودهاند نیز مردهاند. آن چه گویاست، دقیقهی اکنون است و دقیقهای دیگر که از پی آن میآید. سایهی دنیای دیروز هنوز برای کسانی که به آن پناه میبرند، جاذبه دارد. اما آن نیز محو خواهد شد و جهانِ آینده همچون بهمنی بر سر خاطرات گذشته فرود میآید. ...more
Sep 07, 2015 rated it it was ok
Mar 27, 2009 rated it really liked it
Apparently you can put the unspeakable into words...
Chris Schaeffer
Nov 05, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Reading Blanchot on Valentine's Day, a cool romantic tip.
May 13, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: passers
Sometimes solitude does not cure.
Charles Viderkull
Nov 11, 2017 rated it really liked it
A spoiler alert is perhaps warranted here but it's practically impossible to explain what you like about this book without in some ways giving it away. You've been warned.

It begins with the narrator stating that he, once and for all, will make a definite attempt at writing down some events that occurred in 1938, which he has tried and failed at several times before. He then begins but quickly ends up rambling in circles around what he really wants to say, hinting at it only between the lines. Ne
Sep 19, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: to-finish
A pretty, Beckettian, sort of thing. It was smelled to me of the sickly-sweet, sweaty, stink of the modern french novel, think Battaile or Jean-Claude Brisseau's films. The sort of prose where every feeling is infinite, every action is "extraordinarily tortured" or some other similar turn of phrase. IT really does hammer with superlatives.

That said my reaction is probably more about me coming to it after reading a lot of Japanese novels where the bigger a tragedy is the more understated the pros
Ashley Taglieri
Art house cinema in book format complete with brooding narrator who defies conventional narration by jumping between a series of vignettes depicting the narrator's previous relationships at the point that they all ended.

If you like your lit experimental than this is the book for you!!

[Though at 81 pages it is a decent introduction to the non-traditional series of images that passes for a novel.]
Jesse Camacho
Jun 27, 2017 rated it it was ok
Shelves: 2016-to-read, 2017
The language was simple enough and at 80 pages this took maybe an hour to get through, but it was probably a mistake jumping into this without a working knowledge of Blanchot or his sensibilities. The writing is fine and yet nothing of any sort of discernible resonance ever materializes. Kafka by way of disappearing ink.
Jamie Barringer (Ravenmount)
This book barely made sense. I think that was intentional, actually, and it certainly came across as a very artsy novella, with lots of 'deep' introspection, and occasionally an idea that was pretty good. Most of this novella though is so vague that it drags like a dead weight. Considering the death theme in this story, that may be appropriate too, but it doesn't make for a very enjoyable read.
I'm trying to gather my thoughts about what I just read and I can't. I'm so confused. I don't even know what the author was trying to convey. Everything was extremely convoluted and at times so vague I had trouble grasping what was happening. I was so disappointed because the first half was actually rather intriguing.
mariam yeghiazaryan
May 01, 2015 rated it liked it
Մինչ ընթերցելը գրքի նախապատմությունն ու անձնական փորձառությունս ավելի հետաքրքրական էին, քան բուն գիրքը: Արևմտահայերենով կարդում էի ինձ բոլորովին անծանոթ ֆրանսիացի գրողի, ում, ենթագիտակցաբար, խորհուրդ էր տվել մի թուրք տղա, ում հետ մոտակա հանդիպման ժամանակ հաստատ չեմ ասի, որ կարդացել եմ/սա կանխավ էի որոշել` անկախ ակնկալիքներից ու նախապայմաններից/: Գրականությունը նաև մարդկանց հասկանալու, ճանաչելու միջոց է, ու սկզբում Բլանշոն հենց էդպիսի միջոց էր` տարածության և ժամանկի մեջ անծանոթ մարդուն մոտենալու, ...more
Jan 24, 2012 rated it really liked it
I don't know anything about Blanchot, and I still need to read some of his critical writing and more of his fiction. This is the first thing of his I read, in other words. He is a contemporary of and/or major influence on many of the authors I love, though.

This book in particular was really fascinating: the narrator is essentially a man who keeps going on and on about his need to explain everything and achieve catharsis by writing out some awful events, but we never really find out exactly what
May 01, 2013 rated it it was amazing
In 1979 I was teaching in Fredonia, NY, and as I was checking out of the public library I saw a black and silver hardback book on display at the checkout counter. Something in the cover was compelling enough that I picked the book up and then there were the opening words: "These things happened to me in 1938. I feel the greatest uneasiness in speaking of them..." and so on "... until now, words have been frailer and more cunning than I would have liked..." -- I was hooked. I checked the little b ...more
Book Wormy
Jun 27, 2014 rated it it was ok
Shelves: 1001-read, bw-tbr

235) Death Sentence Maurice Blanchot

I would love to say I read and understood this book however that would be a lie, while I most definetely read it most of the content went over my head and I could see no reason for the book being written.

In summary our un-named narrator tells us the "truth" about events in his life. Firstly we have the death of the mysterious J a woman who is terminally ill but seems to live forever and then we have a section about the narrators relationship with different w
Mansor Pooyan
کتاب دارای مرکزیست که تو را به سوی ِخود می کشد. این مرکز ثابت نیست، با اینهمه تو را آواره می کند. کسی که کتاب را می نویسد، آن را از سر ِ اشتیاق و از سر ِبی خبری می نویسد. احساس ِاینکه کتاب را لمس کرده ای می تواند تنها خیال ِباطل باشد
نیروی ِهنر است که شب را میگشاید. از آن جا که هنر نیرومند است، شب به تو خوش آمد می گوید؛ خلوتی پذیرا می شود و هنر سرازیر میشود. برای تو هنر می تواند نهایتی پنهان و به شدّت تیره باشد، گویی به سویش کشیده میشوی. لحظهای که گوهرشب به آن شب ِدیگر میرسد
روشنایی باز میگردد
Certainly deserves a 2nd or 3rd reading, given the richness of detail and the narrative techinque of evasion (much like Woolf's fiction and Ford's The Good Soldier). Recalls Dostoyevsky's underground man and anticipates the Levinasian ethical encounter with the other. At times, the narrator is lucid and prescient; at other times, his narrative wanders off (in a good way) into the philosophical questions and problems that can only be raised during a time of tumult and chaos.
Jun 20, 2016 rated it liked it
Shelves: french, nlb
There were many parts of this book which were obscure and hard to grasp, particularly in the second half. There was some sort of other-worldly connection going on which I couldn't completely understand.
The parts I did understand though, were very perceptive, and on occasion brilliant. I felt the first half did a great job illustrating the mental make up of a person who knows they have limited time to live.
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Reading 1001: Death Sentence, by Maurice Blanchot 3 7 Dec 25, 2017 05:13PM  
تهيه كتاب 1 9 Jul 23, 2012 05:15AM  
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Maurice Blanchot (September 27, 1907 – February 20, 2003) was a French pre-war leader of the Young Right, philosopher, literary theorist and writer of fiction. Blanchot was a distinctly modern writer who broke down generic boundaries, particularly between literature and philosophy. He began his career on the political right, but the experience of fascism altered his thinking to the point that he s ...more
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“But this is the rule, and there is no way to free oneself of it: as soon as the thought has arisen, it must be followed to the very end.” 10 likes
“I went in; I closed the door. I sat down on the bed. Blackest space extended before me. I was not in this blackness, but at the edge of it, and I confess that it is terrifying. It is terrifying because there is something in it which scorns man and which man cannot endure without losing himself. But he must lose himself; and whoever resists will founder, and whoever goes forward will become this very blackness, this cold and dead and scornful thing in the very heart of which lives the infinite. This blackness stayed next to me, probably because of my fear: this fear was not the fear people know about, it did not break me, it did not pay any attention to me, but wandered around the room the way human things do. A great deal of patience is required if thought, when it has been driven down into the depths of the horrible, is to rise little by little and recognize us and look at us. But I still dreaded that look. A look is very different from what one might think, it has neither light nor expression nor force nor movement, it is silent, but from the heart of the strangeness its silence crosses worlds and the person who hears that silence is changed.” 3 likes
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