Reflections on the enigma and secret of “literature.”
A Voice from Elsewhere represents one of Maurice Blanchot’s most important reflections on the enigma and secret of “literature.” The essays here bear down on the necessity and impossibility of witnessing what literature transmits, and—like Beckett and Kafka—on what one might call the “default” of language, the tenuous border that binds writing and silence to each other. In addition to considerations of René Char, Paul Celan, and Michel Foucault, Blanchot offers a sustained encounter with the poems of Louis-René des Forêts and, throughout, a unique and important concentration on music—on the lyre and the lyric, meter and measure—which poetry in particular brings before us.
“This welcome new volume, beautifully translated, is an essential addition to our library of Blanchot in English.” — Lydia Davis
“Maurice Blanchot devoted himself to what Henry James called ‘the strangeness in the strangeness.’ A Voice from Elsewhere speaks of what is irreducibly strange in poetry and philosophy in a language of calm simplicity. These mostly late pieces by a writer and thinker of the first rank are as piercing as they are deeply moving.” — Kevin Hart
“And if the voice from elsewhere was the poet’s voice? It is this hypothesis Blanchot tests ‘with obstinate rigor’ in this book. Such a language is essentially prophetic, but only in the sense that ‘[i]t indicates the future, because it does not yet speak: … finding its meaning and legitimacy only ahead of itself.’ This is luminous Blanchot, rendered luminously by Charlotte Mandell, his best, most elegantly literate translator.” — Pierre Joris
“Here is a volume of Maurice Blanchot’s commentaries on poems by Louis-René des Forêts, René Char, and Paul Celan, together with his celebrated account of Michel Foucault’s œuvre. In each case Blanchot finds himself obsessed by ‘a voice from elsewhere’—a voice that is at once intimate, wordless, and uninhabited: la voix de personne, no-one’s voice. These commentaries, superbly translated by Charlotte Mandell, are themselves constituted by this voice, a pure reverberation that readers of Blanchot’s writings will not have forgotten. They will say: so here he is, if he ever was.” ― Gerald L. Bruns
Maurice Blanchot (1907–2003) was one of the most important figures in twentieth-century literary and philosophical thought. Charlotte Mandell is the translator of many books, including Blanchot’s Faux Pas, which was awarded the Aldo and Jeanne Scaglione Prize for Translation of a Scholarly Study of Literature by the Modern Language Association.
Table of Contents
Anacrusis: On the Poems of Louis-René des Forêts
A Voice from Elsewhere
The White The Black
The Beast of Lascaux
The Last to Speak
Michel Foucault as I Imagine Him
A Man in Danger
Farewell to Structuralism
The Demand for Discontinuity
Knowledge, Power, Truth?
From Subjection to Subject
The Innermost Conviction
Who Is Me Today?
Society of Blood, Society of Knowledge
The Determination to Talk about Sex
Oh My Friends