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Chiasmi International

Merleau-Ponty, la littérature et le langage littéraire - Merleau-Ponty, literature, and literary language - Merleau-Ponty, la letteratura e il linguaggio letterario

Vol. 21

Near the end of the Preface to Phenomenology of Perception, philosophy is joined precisely with both modern literature and modern painting: “Phenomenology is as painstaking as the works of Balzac, Proust, Valéry, or Cézanne – through the same kind of attention and wonder, the same demand for awareness, the same will to grasp the sense of the world or of history in its nascent state” (PP, xvi/lxxxv). A Working Note for The Visible and Invisible from June, 1959 states: “Beingis what requires creation of us for us to experience it. Make an analysis of literature in this sense: as inscription of Being” (VI, 251/197). We also have Merleau-Ponty’s essay on “The Novel and Metaphysics” (1945) and we have his discussion of Saussure’s diacritical theory of signs and critique of Sartre’s What is Literature? in “Indirect Language and the Voices of Silence.” The lecture “Man and Adversity” is essential and equally so the manuscript of The Prose of the World. Thus, throughout all his oeuvre, Merleau-Ponty’s profound engagement with literary writers is readily apparent: Proust and Valéry already mentioned, also Stendhal, Paul Claudel, Claude Simon, Baudelaire, Rimbaud, Breton, Balzac, Mallarmé, Francis Ponge, and Simone de Beauvoir, to give an incomplete list.

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