File spoon-archives/blanchot.archive/blanchot_1999/blanchot.9906, message 7

Subject: MB: =?iso-8859-1?Q?Une_pr=E9sentation=2C_un_malaise_et_une_traduction?=
Date: Fri, 4 Jun 1999 12:31:30 +0200

     So I'll start with all the embarrassing apologises and the presentation
thing : — )

    You will have first to excuse me for my English whom is filled with
dreadful mistakes but as English is not my language I hope that I will — be
excused. Also you will have to excuse me if I make redundant remarks
because, and that's the main raison, I haven't already examined all the
messages of this mailing list.
    And now I have to say something about the strange sensation of writing
in English — when you are French (or quite) — about a French writer. Here I
will stop and make my first citation, this is Geoffrey Bennington talking
about him writing on Derrida in the first lines of "Jacques Derrida, Seuil,
1991": «[...] c'est sans doute l'une des raisons [le fait que Derrida soit
consacré à l'étranger] pour lesquelles, Anglais, je me trouve dans cette
situation étrange d'avoir à vous le présenter ».
    And finally the presentation : I come from Switzerland and I live in
Paris since 2 years. I think this is substantial and sufficient.

    After saying these things, whom are indubitably necessary (don't take
this like a joke or you may), we can talk.

    Recently "La Revue des Sciences humaines"(n° 253-1/1999) published an
issue on Blanchot. I would like to make some remarks on a certain text. The
text that stroked me was from Gae Stratton. I can't tell all the reasons
that made me very uncomfortable with this text (I think they are too deeply
personal), still this lecture was hard and wounding. The critic starts with
the old fashioned discovery of "L'Arrêt de mort" with the tragic lecture
full of endurance and eroticism, not forgetting the primitive scene of the
sun flashing... Passons. At one moment, at one of the "vein" of her lecture,
she alludes an important matter, what she called « une théorie ». A theory
that could gather many, for not saying all, figures (characters) of Blanchot
fictions. As I've said before I don't want to talk about this but it was
important — for me perhaps — to situate where the things get a bit stinky.
So I will stay in a bit conventional demand : I want to know more from here.
I would like to know : who is she ? I know that she worked on Lignes (1990)
but this is the only information I gathered (I also found that she lives not
far away from me, it can't be something we use to call coincidence).

    I am interested also on knowing what you think of Blanchot translations
in English. Since I got recently the books of Leslie Hill (Extreme
contemporary) and Steven Ungar (Scandal and aftereffect)(1) I wondered if
there is not in the reception of Blanchot especially in the States a
dramatisation of his fictions and critics (2). When I look at some titles I
see that there is some times indubitably an emphasis on the translation.
"When the Time comes", we are not far form dooms day sentences. I am a bit
exaggerating but the translation play on an ambiguous. "The Work of fire"
for "La part du feu" emphasis on something like a fire whom is tearing and
trying to consume something — it's a wilder lecture. Translating "Oubli" by
"Oblivion" is not an foolish event, I am not sure but for me I learned to
forget/oublier at school and  I have discovered Oblivion by my
post-apocalyptical Goth band. Translating "La folie du jour" par "The
Madness of the day" is intriguing me, Mad for insane is plotting "la folie"
on a more "ludique" way, not the in the way that "la folie" plays but in
something like MAD. We could note that a translation is more dangerous than
an interpretation, than a lecture. A translation is never innocent but it
always looks like or pretends to be — an innocent "fidélité".
    Also the reception of Blanchot (you should correct me if I am telling
something wrong) in the U.S.A. was highly made possible by the so-called
deconstruction. So I ask  : Is this way of receiving Blanchot is good (not
the good way, but simply good) ? Is he read in the right sense ? Is
something like a good sense of reading pertinent ?


(1) For being correct I should say that Leslie Hill book is not (really)
concerned by this remark. In fact his book doesn't fall in that type of
lecture [read further] and stays sober. The title maybe gives a bit of this
    Ungar since "Night Moves" is a prototype of this (I am not talking about
what Ungar says about Blanchot but what kind of Blanchot he receives) type
of lecture, it's an emphasis on certain type of figures. I wonder why
"L'Arrêt de mort" is so good gathering the people whom love and hate
    I should also say for concluding this note that these two books are the
only ones concerning Blanchot (the only ones I have) who give so much
importance to the "couverture". The books I bought from English or American
stores, generally they look like videos, like entertainment product. Even if
we should separate the Anglo-Saxon society and the Professor of University
we should note that the edition is also governed by rules, and these rules
don't — at all exclude —  something like scandalous titles-lectures with
beautiful pictures...

(2) One could say that France gave in this "dramatisation", one can remember
the Noël and Madaule books. But there is a thing that one quickly forgets,
this thing is that these books are fictions, are not intended in a critic
matter. Christophe Bident says in his autobiography of Blanchot : « Pierre
Madaule, enfin, dans un livre qui sera publié à l'écart de ses deux amis
[Bernard Noël et Roger Laporte], raconte comment la lecture de l'Arrêt de
mort se confond avec l'histoire de sa propre vie. Fût-elle réelle, une telle
dramatisation de la lecture (lecture d'un auteur silencieux, invisible,
lecture d'une œuvre sur laquelle un  seul autre livre a alors paru) n'ira
pas sans provoquer l'incompréhension la plus grande [...]. » (523) but he
forgets that the books is a "récit du lecteur" not "une étude sérieuse et
circonstanciée de la lecture d'un récit de Monsieur Blanchot". It's not my
purpose to do a bad "Contre Sainte-Beuve" mais quand même un peu. We can
note the hilarious "fût-elle".



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