Journal Article

OBFUSCATION: MAURICE BLANCHOT'S RELIGIOUS RE-CITATION OF THE LIMITS

S. Brent Plate

in Literature and Theology

Volume 11, issue 3, pages 239-253
Published in print September 1997 | ISSN: 0269-1205
Published online September 1997 | e-ISSN: 1477-4623 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/litthe/11.3.239
OBFUSCATION: MAURICE BLANCHOT'S RELIGIOUS RE-CITATION OF THE LIMITS

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This suggests that French novelist/theorist Maurice Blanchot writes at the ‘limits of Language’. That is, he interrogates the liminal spaces that fall out between binary oppsitions such as being/non-being human/animal, creation/destruction, light/dark, and life/death. The limits revealed in Blanchot's writing challenge each of these borders, but the border most challenged is that between writer and reader, and between writing and reading. Blanchot writes in such a way that as the reader reads, the readers feels her/his self to be read. This challenge to reading is entirely ancient and entirely contemporary and, in its former and current state, it is the challenge of what will here be called ‘religious reading’. Beginning witha suggestion made long ago by Cicero, it will be noted that ‘reading’ and ‘religion’ have etymological similarities. These similarities are then furthured through Blanchot's writing. Two texts of Blanchot's will be examined, one theoretical (the essay ‘Two Versions of the Imaginary’) and one fictional (the récit Thomas the Obscure). What will be suggested through these two texts is that Blanchot's language is a religious language, that the experience of the limit between binary oppositions is a religious experience.

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Subjects: Literature ; Religion and Art, Literature, and Music

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