For Work / Against Work
Debates on the centrality of work

The Space of Literature: A Translation of "l'Espace Littéraire"

by Blanchot, Maurice (2015)


Maurice Blanchot, the eminent literary and cultural critic, has had a vast influence on contemporary French writers--among them Jean Paul Sartre and Jacques Derrida. From the 1930s through the present day, his writings have been shaping the international literary consciousness. The Space of Literature, first published in France in 1955, is central to the development of Blanchot's thought. In it he reflects on literature and the unique demand it makes upon our attention. Thus he explores the process of reading as well as the nature of artistic creativity, all the while considering the relation of the literary work to time, to history, and to death. This book consists not so much in the application of a critical method or the demonstration of a theory of literature as in a patiently deliberate meditation upon the literary experience, informed most notably by studies of Mallarmé, Kafka, Rilke, and Hölderlin. Blanchot's discussions of those writers are among the finest in any language.

Key Passage

A work is finished, not when it is completed, but when he who labors at it from within can just as well finish it from without. He is no longer retained inside by the work; rather, he is retained there by a part of himself from which he feels he is free and from which the work has contributed to freeing him.  (p.53)


Blanchot, Literature, Reading, History, Death, French, Critical Method, Heidegger, Sartre, Derrida


The Space of Literature , Blanchot Citations

Links to Reference



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