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Maurice Blanchot : art and technology

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  • Additional Information
    • Publication Information:
      University of Warwick, 2017.
    • Publication Date:
      2017
    • Collection:
      University of Warwick
    • Abstract:
      Maurice Blanchot (1907-2003), writer of fiction, literary critic, political journalist and thinker, is one of the most influential figures in twentieth-century literature and thought. The relationship between art and technology is a largely unexplored aspect of Blanchot’s writing; this thesis examines his engagement with the question of techne in criticism and fiction over a fifty-year period and demonstrates that he is far from subscribing to the technophobia of probably the most influential thinker of technology, Martin Heidegger. It is argued that writing for Blanchot is a mode of techne which destabilises the opposition between nature and culture, or nature and technology, or nature and history, and provides a means of thinking other than the anthropos. The chronological approach of this thesis stresses how a thinking of writing as techne radicalises over time and indicates the enduring influence of Blanchot. The first chapter considers the treatment of the division, often taken for granted by critics, between literary and everyday language; focussing on Blanchot’s reading of Mallarmé in essays dating from 1940 to 1952, this chapter reveals a shift in his thinking of literature from autonomy to radical non-essentiality. The second chapter examines Blanchot’s critical engagement with Heidegger in essays written in 1953 and shows how we might reconcile Blanchot’s work with ecological thought. A third chapter focuses on the discussion of modern technologies in essays from the 1950s and 1960s and the coincidental emergence of the non-concept of the neuter in literature and criticism; it listens to various apocalyptic tones in work from this period to reveal a continuity between the experience of the technological and of the imaginary. The final chapter explores how ‘technique’ is everywhere implied once the term disappears from Blanchot’s idiom; it argues that fragmentary writing is that techne which outplays the human.
    • Accession Number:
      edsble.742197