Fiche de fragment: Reading Blanchot with Char


In L’Entretien infini (1969), in two essays on René Char, Blanchot engages what he calls a parole de fragment, an open-ended and ever-approximate form of writing that disorients, displaces, and goes adrift into exile. He finds in Char “îles de sens” [islands of sense], a flicker of sensory fragments, a writing that “speaks essentially in things and in words.” He ends the essay through reference to Parole en archipel, the title Char accords to poetry written in the years 1952-60. Without suggesting as much, Blanchot’s reading sets Char in the context of the great tradition of the isolario, the book or island-atlas (from Buondelmonti to Scève and Thevet) that configures the world not according to continental mass but to scattering and gathering of lands and waters. Belonging to the age of oceanic exploration (1430-1580), the isolario can be likened to an atlas en archipel, a poetry where the relation with an unknown holds sway. In this brief essay, by way of a reading of Blanchot on Char (and his emendations in the page-proofs of L’Entretien infini, along with pertinent notes in the Blanchot Archive in the Houghton Library), I relate what he calls parole de fragment to a poetic geography informing what elsewhere, but with Char, he calls la pensée du neutre. If, in general, poetry can be likened to geo-graphy, a sense of the “writing of the world” is found in the relation of an originary calling, heard in archipel, with the island-writing that begins with the Aegean archipelago.

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