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Scandal and Aftereffect

Blanchot and France since 1930

1995
Author:

Steven Ungar

Scandal and Aftereffect

Why have literary critics, as in the cases of Martin Heidegger and Paul de Man, chosen to ignore or suppress Blanchot's right-wing interwar and wartime writings, focusing instead on his postwar production? Scandal and Aftereffect provides an enlightening and provocative examination of this question, as Steven Ungar looks at 100 articles published under Blanchot's signature between 1932 and 1937 in such right-wing publications as Combat, Le Rempart, and l'Insurgé.

Why have literary critics, as in the cases of Martin Heidegger and Paul de Man, chosen to ignore or suppress Blanchot's right-wing interwar and wartime writings, focusing instead on his postwar production? Scandal and Aftereffect provides an enlightening and provocative examination of this question, as Steven Ungar looks at 100 articles published under Blanchot's signature between 1932 and 1937 in such right-wing publications as Combat, Le Rempart, and l'Insurgé.

Scandal and Aftereffect focuses on the return of the repressed, the case of Maurice Blanchot, and the Etat Francais at Vichy. The crucial question of how denial and displacement affect the writings and rewritings of the past concerns all of us who think, study, teach, and write using written texts.

Elaine Marks, Germaine Bree Professor of French and Women's Studies, University of Wisconsin, Madison

Maurice Blanchot emerged after World War II as a key figure in the literary world, though he was known by some of his contemporaries in France for his prior involvement in far-rightist politics. How did this happen? Why have literary critics, as in the cases of Martin Heidegger and Paul de Man, chosen to ignore or suppress Blanchot's right-wing interwar and wartime writings, focusing instead on his postwar production? Scandal and Aftereffect provides an enlightening and provocative examination of these questions, as Steven Ungar looks at 100 articles published under Blanchot's signature between 1932 and 1937 in such right-wing publications as Combat, Le Rempart, and l'Insurgé.

Using the concept of the "aftereffect" (developed in psychoanalysis to link the shock of disclosure to problems of repression), Ungar expands his study of Blanchot's writings into a broader analyses of cultural, political, and historical amnesia in an attempt to resolve the following questions: How and when does critical understanding of the past develop when control over the memory of a specific period is contested among those who lived it and those whose access to it depends on the accounts of others? Why have historical accounts of the recent past become increasingly open to question and revision? How structural is this process, or is it purely peculiar to wartime periods and therefore tied to the nature of contemporary historical experiences?

Addressing problems of method related to the convergence of interests among historians and literary scholars, Ungar includes an overview of current debates surrounding the contested memories of Vichy France and the Holocaust. Scandal and Aftereffect will make a crucial contribution to discussions about the function of memory in the relationship of history to cultural production and about the history of history itself.

Scandal and Aftereffect

Steven Ungar is professor of French and comparative literature at the University of Iowa. He is the author of Roland Barthes: The Professor of Desire (1983), and the coeditor, with Betty McGraw, of Signs in Culture: Roland Barthes Today (1989). He is also an editor of the journal SubStance.

Scandal and Aftereffect

Scandal and Aftereffect focuses on the return of the repressed, the case of Maurice Blanchot, and the Etat Francais at Vichy. The crucial question of how denial and displacement affect the writings and rewritings of the past concerns all of us who think, study, teach, and write using written texts.

Elaine Marks, Germaine Bree Professor of French and Women's Studies, University of Wisconsin, Madison

Steven Ungar’s project is a bold one. He seeks to occupy the impossible position into which modernity has been driven, and transform the paralyzing self-denunciation which denial seems destined to inflict upon it, into a new mode of consciousness which can be said to be ethical in nature. He aims in short to counterbalance aftereffect, eschew scandal and transform irresolution from being simply an incapacitating ordeal into a new capacity for thinking. He attempts this by way of an examination of the writing of Maurice Blanchot.

Comptes rendus

Scandal and Aftereffect is a challenging informative multipurpose study. Not only does it fulfill its considerable ambitions, it also provides insights and rereadings whose ramifications extend beyond the author’s immediate intentions.

South Central Review