Writing and the Other: Franz Kafka and Maurice Blanchot

  • Hossein Moradi

Student thesis: Phd


AbstractThe University of ManchesterHossein MoradiDoctor of PhilosophyMay 2011Writing and the Other: Franz Kafka and Maurice BlanchotThis thesis attempts to explore what occurs in the act of writing; arguing that the act of writing opens a space for 'the other.' For this argument, I bring Franz Kafka who has remained unthought in terms of the act of writing in the deconstructive thinking close to Maurice Blanchot who writes both theoretical discussion and fiction specifically on the act of writing. Blanchot has written extensively on Kafka; his récits also are influenced by Kafka. In the introduction, I argue through Borges and Benjamin that Kafka and Blanchot create their past and future, so that we understand any text in the past or the future differently if we know them. In other words, works are in dialogue with one another. This creativity is actually being open to 'the other.' Chapter one argues that Blanchot criticizes language for making things absent by representing them. For him, writing should be the act of making space between word and its referent in order that the referent shows itself infinitely. This spacing, for Blanchot, is desoeuvrement or worklessness as an undoing of being, the neutral spacing that let the thing's otherness come infinitely. The second chapter argues that Joseph K. in The Castle is exposed to this spacing or desoeuvrement which makes him and the castle distance from their meaning and find the singular possibilities of their unknown nature as 'the other' infinitely. Blanchot's meaning of literature necessitates dealing with the notion of the author. In this sense, the third chapter argues that when Kafka is metamorphosed into writing he loses his identity. Writing, for Kafka, becomes the space in which he loses his sense of selfhood and sees 'the other' in the self. Chapter four, by reading Blanchot's The Instant of My Death and Kafka's Metamorphosis, argues that being exposed to 'the other' in writing necessitates the process of dying, not death as one instant that begins and ends. Writing becomes the process that interrupts the border between life and death. The self gets no determination, completion, and totality and at the same time it will not be reducible to disappearance. My fifth and sixth chapters illustrate what Blanchot's means in writing a récit. Chapter five argues that the récit as a concept questions memory as the place of passed past experiences. In memory, the past, the present and the future become the 'extended present' which means memory is the place in which neither remembering nor forgetting happens. The récit rejects memory as the fixed narrative of the past. Therefore, the récit is the open space with the possibility of inventing 'the other.' Chapter six argues that the recit is the place where opens the Freud's primal scene to the prior scenes endlessly which are not located in the past; they also occur in the future. By this futurity, he leaves the space for 'the other' in the past and the future. The seventh chapter illustrates Kafka's The Trial while thinking of the concept of the récit. The text has no pre-existent story as its origin and problematizes the concept of repetition. By removing the originary state and teleological existence, the text is open to 'the other,' the new possibilities of being written and read endlessly. The conclusion as well as further discussing what 'the other' is and how writing lets it come propose that the ethics of writing in Kafka and Blanchot is not limited only to the openness of the self to 'the other;' it also brings out the community which prepares itself for the coming of 'the other.'
Date of Award1 Aug 2011
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • The University of Manchester
SupervisorJeremy Tambling (Supervisor) & David Alderson (Supervisor)


  • deconstruction, the other, Kafka, Blanchot

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