By Paul de Man, Lindsay Waters
This quantity brings jointly 25 essays and stories by way of Paul De guy, Sterling Professor of Literature,Yale college
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Extra resources for Critical writings, 1953-1978
Blanchot himself was not guilty of anthropologism, but even his austere work showed what difficulties attended this way of thinking. De Man in the essay on Blanchot as well as elsewhere aligns himself with those who had been seeking since the 1930s to understand interiority in an impersonal sense. The language one used presented a problem. Bataille had tried to explain things in a critique of Sartre's book on Genet by stating that Finally, what is, for us, is scandal. Consciousness of being is the scandal of consciousness, and we cannot-indeed, we must not, be surprised.
It is for this reason that such thinkers may become proponents of interiority. It is interiority that such people feel we must come to understand, and they seek to represent the struggle for such self-understanding in their literary texts and philosophical treatises. It is for this reason that one of the most significant aesthetic efforts imaginable in our modern times is Proust's attempt to represent "cette perpetuelle erreur, qui est precisement PAUL DE MAN: LIFE AND WORKS D xxxv la 'vie' " (the epigraph to the first edition of Blindness and Insight, dropped by mistake I daresay, speaking as one of those responsible, from the second edition).
In this sense Mallarme writes truly historical poetry. "72 De Man's concern for "inwardness" links him to the heterodox tradition of dissident French critics and philosophers, and it also stands behind his late project to set out in detail a critique of the aesthetic ideology, but it does more than that. The experience of inwardness is a specifically "romantic" experience, and his understanding of self and consciousness enabled what was his most successful academic achievement and that was—working in concert of course with many others, most notably Geoffrey Hartman and Harold Bloom—the simultaneous disposal of the New Critics and the reestablishment of the centrality of the romantics from Rousseau, Wordsworth, and Keats onward.