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International Journal of Literary Culture / Internationale Zeitschrift für literarische Kultur

Ed. by Biti, Vladimir / Liska, Vivian

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Volume 51, Issue 1


Blanchot’s Windows

Arthur Cools
  • Corresponding author
  • University of Antwerp, Faculty of Arts, Department of Philosophy, Stadscampus (D 406), Prinsstraat 13, 2000 Antwerpen, Belgium
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Published Online: 2016-06-07 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/arcadia-2016-0008


This article intends to analyse the presence of the window in Blanchot’s fictional work. The window, or window pane, can be considered a central topos in Blanchot’s approach of the literary space, not only because it recurs in different stories but moreover because it relates to the event of the story. I have a double claim as regards this topos. First, the topos foregrounds the importance of the perceptual basis in Blanchot’s approach to the image in his own fictional writings. Second, it functions in the transformation of the narrative in his fictional writings and in this regard reveals the importance of the literary space in Blanchot’s approach to the image. As concerns the first claim, I will show how different meanings of the window metaphor, as understood in the theory of the pictorial image since the Renaissance, remain present in Blanchot’s use of the metaphor. As regards the second claim, I will establish how the meaning of the window pane in Blanchot’s fictional writings is connected to specific narrative constraints, for instance as expression of intentions, or as metaphor for the narrator’s experience, or as means to relate the event of the story. In the first part of this article, I recall the pictorial definition of the image in terms of window and its transformation in Romanticism and Surrealism, and show that it is possible to situate Blanchot’s approach to the image in terms of “fascination” within this legacy. In the second part, I analyse the different meanings associated with the window pane in Blanchot’s fictional work, exploring to what extent they repeat the Romanticist and Surrealist interpretations and how significantly they move beyond this legacy. This comparative investigation leads to an articulation of Blanchot’s theory of the image as evidenced from the perspective of his own fictional writings.

Keywords: Maurice Blanchot; the metaphor of the window; theory of the image; literary fiction; the visibility of the imaginary

Works Cited

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About the article

Published Online: 2016-06-07

Published in Print: 2016-06-01

Citation Information: arcadia, Volume 51, Issue 1, Pages 120–134, ISSN (Online) 1613-0642, ISSN (Print) 0003-7982, DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/arcadia-2016-0008.

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