of Aminadab, Jean-Paul Sartre reports that Blanchot claimed not to have read Kafka when he wrote the novel; but of course Sartre doesn’t fall for this ruse and. Maurice Blanchot was a French writer, philosopher, and literary theorist. His work had a strong . Thomas l’Obscur, (Thomas the Obscure); Aminadab, ; L’Arrêt de mort, (Death Sentence); Le Très-Haut, (The Most High). Blanchot (b. ) is a mordant intellectual akin to the late Thomas Bernhard, Beckett, and Kafka, whose increasingly spare fictions (Awaiting.

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Inhowever, an English translation appeared and in we finally learned of it and read the book. Though this review has been a long time in coming, it will remain a preliminary one as the book will require another reading.

Thus, the work starts out quite enticingly with Thomas, the protagonist, arriving in an unidentified village, making his way through a sparsely described but intriguing street and, upon seeing a woman seemingly signal to him from an upper window of a boarding house, deciding to enter the building and look for her. The rest of the novel is about that search, and all the difficulties that he has reaching her.

We know nothing about this surveyor whose adventures and views we share. We know nothing except his incomprehensible obstinacy in remaining in a forbidden village.

To attain this end, he sacrifices everything; he treats himself as a means. But we never know the value this end had for him and whether it was worth so much effort.


Blanchot has adopted the same method; his Thomas is no less mysterious than the servants in the building. We do not know where he comes from, nor why he persists in reaching the woman who has signaled to him.

Having now read Aminadab for myself, I have to question whether this parallel holds. There was, that is to say, an imperative to K. Could he consider this gesture truly as a call to him?

Maurice Blanchot – Wikipedia

It was rather a sign of friendship than an invitation. It was also a sort of dismissal. Looking again in the direction of the shop, he realized that the man who was sweeping had gone back inside as well.

This reminded him of his first plan. But then he thought that he would always have time to carry it out later, and he decided to cross the street and enter the house. In The Castleon the other hand, K. The discourses are concrete ones, about officialdom, what the officials do and how one gets an in with them. Indeed, it is these conflicts between K.

Aminadabby presenting us with an extended work that has a Kafkan structure but whose protagonist and narrative lack such aspiration, raises the question of whether there must be such a close association between irrealism and existentialism.

Or, put another way, if we accept that an important element of irrealism is not just the absurd meaning, in this case, the chasm between what we want and can imagine on the one hand and what our finite world and body allows us on the other but also the passion of the absurd the insistent, driven attempt to do the impossible and cross this chasm then Aminadab might not be an irrealist work. By largely discarding any strong imperative in the protagonist or narrative — any of the passion mentioned above — the novel leaves the reader in the abstracted and disassociated state that more typically results from reading works of narrative experimentation.


But, of course, the novel does utilize many Kafkan elements and structures, and so even in my own mind the matter is not settled.


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AMINADAB by Maurice Blanchot , Jeff Fort | Kirkus Reviews

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