Rethinking Community Through the Withdrawal from Politics: Barthes and Blanchot’s Temptation

Justine Brisson

My research is at the crossroad between literature, philosophy and political theory. More precisely, I study the intertwined relations between politics, literature and theory in mid-twentieth century France through the theme of community in Blanchot and Barthes’ thoughts. Both alternated periods of political commitment and ethical disengagement. By doing so, they dismantled and overcame the well known opposition between engagement and l’art pour l’art. I aim to answer to these questions: What kind of community are they writing and dreaming about? How does the way they think about literature can help to conceptualize community? Is the temptation to live at the edge of political sphere desirable, or even possible? Does the concept of “the neutral” suspend any possibility of political emancipation? Indeed, a significant part of my work consists of studying the link between political withdrawal and community. These writers’ withdrawal is never solitary but shared with a few. However, micro-communities and secret societies don’t seem to be an overcoming of politics. Thus, the discontent for community of apolitical writers might lead to a dead-end. I will defend that this aporia is an essential element for understanding the apolitical temptation – often dismissed by militant interpretations.


Academic Year
Area of Study