Maurice Blanchot (1907–2003) is a French philosopher and author. He is a major figure in 20th-century French intellectual history. He was born in Quain in the Saône-et-Loire district of Burgundy. He did his undergraduate degree at the University of Strasbourg, studying German and philosophy. There he met Emmanuel Levinas, who would become a lifelong friend. As an undergraduate Blanchot was actively involved with the extreme right-wing group Action Française. He wrote articles for such right-wing publications as Journal de Débats, Réaction, Le Rempart, Combat, and L’Insurgé, perhaps explaining his later reticence with respect to biography. However, following the defeat of France in 1940, he refused to collaborate with the Vichy regime and retreated almost completely from public life, not surfacing again until May ’68. He is widely believed to have authored the famous ‘Manifeste de 121’, a declaration signed by 121 intellectuals (mostly from the left) proclaiming the right of insubordination in protest to the Algerian war.
Gilles Deleuze, Paul De Man, Jacques Derrida and Michel Foucault, among many others, have all paid homage to Blanchot. Blanchot’s novels, such as Thomas l’Obscur (1941), translated as Thomas the Obscure (1973) and L’Arret de mort (1948), translated as The Death Sentence (1978), are every bit as experimental as Bataille’s, and only slightly less confronting. His best known philosophical works are: L’Espace littéraire (1955), translated as The Space of Literature (1982), and L’Entretien infini (1969), translated as The Infinite Conversation (1993).
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