L'Arret de Mort=: Death Sentence Paperback – 5 Sep 2000
|New from||Used from|
- Choose from over 13,000 locations across the UK
- Prime members get unlimited deliveries at no additional cost
- Find your preferred location and add it to your address book
- Dispatch to this address when you check out
Frequently bought together
Customers who bought this item also bought
Enter your mobile number or email address below and we'll send you a link to download the free Kindle App. Then you can start reading Kindle books on your smartphone, tablet, or computer - no Kindle device required.
To get the free app, enter your mobile phone number.
About the Author
Maurice Blanchot is one of the most enigmatic and influential figures in modern French writing. His work encompasses the writing of novels and r
What other items do customers buy after viewing this item?
Top customer reviews
Most helpful customer reviews on Amazon.com
And then the surprise. Each and every sentence sparks with luminously, incandescently clear impact. And yet, each and every one of these sentences disassembles the narrative right before my eyes. Each sentence instigates a tear: "...this sadness communicated a feeling to me that was absolutely distressing, that was dispossessed and in some way bereft of itself; the memory of it became inexpressible despair, despair which hides in tears but does not cry, which has no face and changes the face it borrows into a mask." (p. 49) Oh my.
The narrative is simple: first the death, spontaneous resuscitation and then completely instigated final death of the narrator's loved one; then, in the second part of this slim book, the narrator proposes marriage while he and his female companion are taking refuge from aerial bombardment, during the early days of WWII. The pressing crowd subsequently separates the couple as everyone rushes out of the subway bomb shelter. They reunite - if that is the term for what happens here -- in a space of estranging darkness:
"Everything about that room, plunged in the most profound darkness, was familiar to me; I had penetrated it, I carried it in me, I gave it life and which no force in the world could ever overcome. That room does not breathe, there is neither shadow nor memory in it, neither dream nor depth; I listen to it and no one speaks; I look at it and no one lives in it. And yet, the most intense life is there, a life which I touch and which touches me.... May the person who does not understand that come and die. Because that life transforms the life which shrinks away from it into a falsehood." (p. 67)
I found this work in the space of death to be strangely liberating. I was mourning a death in my own immediate circle when I read it. In my death scene, I too instigated a final deathblow, the death sentence (euthanasia for my brave and aged dog, fighting to the end). In reading this work during this time, the very unsettling of the narration streamed forth as a linguistic "nature" pouring out, as it does, beyond any trivialities of meaning I can bring to a comprehension of a beloved's death. The flights of language out of any sentiment or meaning, the interruptions and dislocations articulated here opened room for a free constitution of what living now meant in the face of what was a definitive, inescapable death event. The breaking apart, the "absent meaning," (The Writing of the Disaster; p. 24) let the dark in. The dark of a world beyond my reach, not my own sentimental illuminations, surrounded me and freed up the mystery, set it loose. The only way to live is to let the touching happen - whatever and however that occurs. As Steven Wright said, "Shins are for seeing in the dark."
Kafka shines a guiding light for Blanchot. Where Kafka narrated the occasions of dislocation and ever-receding destination, Blanchot articulates the forming of a literature right in the heart and tumult of the artists' experiences - death sentences all.
The echoes of Kafka resound throughout Death Sentence. As Blanchot says of Kafka's writing, "We do not know if we are grasping the outside or the inside, whether we are in the presence of the building or the hole into which the building has disappeared." (Work of Fire, p. 23) When contemplating the seminally guiding literature of Kafka, Blanchot says: "So is art the place of anxiety and complacency, of dissatisfaction and security. It has a name: self-destruction, infinite disintegration. And another name: happiness, eternity."
This is a love story about a young man and woman. The woman dies early in the story, but their love is so strong she's not really dead. She keeps reappearing to her lover in other personae. Almost unceasing ecstasy.
The novel, written in the first person by an unnamed narrator, consists of two segments. In the first segment, taking place in 1938, the narrator tells of his relationship with a young woman named "J" who is dying of lung disease. J and the narrator discuss, among other things, her death, her suffering and her wish for suicide. At one point J's doctor insists on discontinuing her morphine shots because her condition is too frail. J screams at him, "If you don't kill me, you're a murderer." Ambiguous ideas about death and its meaning abound in this book. In reference to J's plea, the narrator says "Later I came across a similar phrase attributed to Kafka."
The second and longer segment of Death Sentence takes place in Paris during World War II, though the time and place may be of no significance. From the opening sentences, the narrator alerts us that the telling of the story is going to determine what the story is:
"I will go on with this story, but now I will take some precautions. I am not taking these precautions to cast a veil over the truth. The truth will be told, everything of importance that happened will be told. But not everything has yet happened....
"Even now, I am not sure that I am any more free than I was at the moment when I was not speaking. It may be that I am entirely mistaken. It may be that all these words are a curtain behind which what happened will never stop happening.... But a thought is not exactly a person, even if it lives and acts like one."
The events of this part of the novel, which involve encounters and conversations between the narrator and three different women, are dreamlike, discontinuous and enigmatic. The narrator's thoughts continue to be about death and suicide, but even more about language, silence and solitude. The language can be perplexing, but no less poetic: "...but this solitude has itself begun to speak, and I must in turn speak about this speaking solitude, not in derision, but because a greater solitude hovers above it, and above that solitude, another still greater, and each, taking the spoken word in order to smother and silence it, instead echoes it to infinity, and infinity becomes its echo."
I can't claim to understand everything Blanchot is saying in this novel, but it offers some intriguing interpretations. One is to consider it as metafiction with the narrator speaking, not as the author of a book, but as the book itself. For ideas live, change and develop in the mind, but as they are put into language and written down on paper their development ceases. In a manner of speaking, they die. Creation and death are the same, and language is what makes them so. In a postscript the author says, "These pages can end here, and . . . will remain until the very end. Whoever would obliterate it from me, in exchange for that end which I am searching for in vain, would himself become the beginning of my own story, and he would be my victim."
Look for similar items by category