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The disappearance of literature

Aaron Hillyer, University of Nebraska - Lincoln


"To its disappearance," is how Maurice Blanchot tells where literature is headed in a brief essay from 1953. Blanchot's exhortation to his fellow writers, "what will we do to disappear?" serves as the epigraph for a 2002 novel by Enrique Vila-Matas, Montano's Malady. In The Disappearance of Literature Vila-Matas is counted with Giorgio Agamben, Anne Carson and Cesar Aira among a constellation of writers that have more or less explicitly pursued the implications of Blanchot's claim in their own works. The principal aim of this study is to raise signposts that begin to register how these writers wield the potential that can be glimpsed in Blanchot's statement, which is an exemplary attempt to formulate the mode literature assumes when it is aligned with what has been termed by continental philosophy, in the Spinoza-Nietzsche-Deleuze lineage of thought, as an "immanent" ontology. The present work is the first sustained scholarly engagement with this increasingly vibrant literary tendency, which, Hillyer claims, attains political significance by showing how literature and innovative action spring from shared resources and experiences. This study concludes with a consideration of friendship as the paradigm for the literature and politics that emerge from the encounters it registers.^

Subject Area

Literature, Modern

Recommended Citation

Hillyer, Aaron, "The disappearance of literature" (2011). ETD collection for University of Nebraska - Lincoln. AAI3487260.