Maurice Blanchot's Lentretien infini (The Infinite Conversation)
By Mark C. Taylor
Maurice Blanchots Lentretien infini (The Infinite Conversation) is one of the most important and unappreciated works of modern literature. The singularity of his prose makes his work difficult perhaps impossible to define or describe. The problem begins with the title entretien is not incorrectly translated as "conversation," but the nuances of the word are lost in this translation. Entretien is formed by combining "entre (between)" and tenir (to hold)." A more accurate rendering, therefore, might be The Infinite Holding-Between. Holding between is what Blanchots work stages stages without exactly analyzing, describing, or defining. Not precisely literature or philosophy, his work remains suspended in an alternation, oscillation, and vacillation that both inhabits and dislocates the neither/nor of the between. In his strange text, Blanchot names the unnameable by drawing close to what we always struggle to avoid.