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Maurice Blanchot, Thomas L’Obscur, Chapter I

Mckeane, J. ORCID: (2020) Maurice Blanchot, Thomas L’Obscur, Chapter I. French Studies, 41 (153). pp. 1-4. ISSN 1468-2931

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To link to this item DOI: 10.1093/FREBUL/KTZ014


This translation originated as an attempt to get to grips with the dense opening chapter of Blanchot’s first published novel. This text, Thomas l’Obscur, is a 300-page work which appeared in 1941, only to be succeeded in 1950 by a narrative one-third of the length: Thomas l’Obscur, nouvelle version. The longer work is untranslated, whilst the shorter one was rendered into English by Robert Lamberton in 1973.1 Having begun by working only with the French text, I then brought in Lamberton’s translation of the second Thomas by way of comparison. This was enlightening: perhaps because it is American rather than British English, or perhaps because it translates a much-compressed text, Lamberton’s language was often brisker than mine, and I acknowledge my debt to him where I have adopted his turns of phrase. The question is an interesting one because when compared with the 1950 version, the 1941 version of Thomas l’Obscur is anything but brisk. The narration situates the reader within a sensorily overwhelming experience, rather than looking at it from the outside. Therefore, I have made several choices (especially with past tenses) highlighting the continuous, unfolding, live nature of the experience recounted in the chapter.

Item Type:Article
Divisions:Arts, Humanities and Social Science > School of Literature and Languages > Languages and Cultures > French
ID Code:98064
Publisher:Oxford University Press

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