Maurice Blanchot’s conceptual work on the space of literature lingers in an uncomfortable proximity to that space we conventionally call architectural. Nevertheless, for Blanchot, the space of literature is no space at all. Instead, it can be considered an exemplary non-place, or what Michel Foucault has described as belonging to “placeless places.”Nothing really happens in the hallways, rooms, and stairwells that are detailed in Blanchot’s récits, but I will argue that these settings are crucial to the writer’s sparse narratives and their intimate relationship with his philosophical work. I will suggest a two fold sense of the concept of space in Blanchot’s oeuvre, by way of a reading of L’Arrêt de Mort [Death Sentence]. This récit not only details the breaching of one threshold after another, as Blanchot’s characters venture through series of dimly lit rooms, but the astonishing appearance of a rotunda in the midst of one character, Nathalie’s apartment. Like a mirage, this focal space of fascination, milieu of the impersonal, appears only to sink again into obscurity.
Michel Foucault, “Maurice Blanchot: The Thought from the Outside,” trans. Brian Massumi, Foucault Blanchot (New York: Zone Books, 1990), p. 24.
2005. no 10, 171-180 p.