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The Disappearance of Literature: Blanchot, Agamben, and the Writers of the No

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In this book Aaron Hillyer considers the implications of Maurice Blanchot's strange formulation: "Literature is heading to its essence, which is its disappearance." This quest leads Hillyer to stage a dialogue between the works of Blanchot and Giorgio Agamben. Despite being primary points of reference for literary theory, no significant critical work has examined their "literary" writings together. The Disappearance of Literature initiates this new trajectory through readings of Blanchot's The Unavowable Community and Agamben's The Open, two short books that harbor their most enigmatic writings. A series of related concepts-study, community, mysticism, and friendship-emerges from this pairing, and, Hillyer argues, forms the basis of a new vein of contemporary literature found in the novels and hybrid fictions of Enrique Vila-Matas, Anne Carson, and Cesar Aira.

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"Provides insightful analysis of a number of important conversations that link Blanchot and Agamben--indirectly, through their separate engagement of writers like Georges Bataille, Walter Benjamin, and Franz Kafka, and, also indirectly, through Agamben's veiled communication with Blanchot himself. ... Hillyer's book offers some of its most compelling insights near the end, when literature becomes a means of reflecting upon the more general questions of ontology examined earlier in the book. ... The final, short chapters of Hillyer's book solidify the sense that his work takes a fresh angle on writers like Blanchot and Agamben who have rightly garnered the attention of many scholars and many books. Turning to the "writers of the no" gives his study that sense of freshness and demonstrates the relevance--perhaps the necessity--of Blanchot and Agamben's thought in the work of some of the most interesting, thought-provoking, and challenging writing in contemporary literature." -Anne McConnell, Comparative Literature Studies

About the Author:

Aaron Hillyer received his Ph.D from the University of Nebraska in 2011.

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