‘How is Literature Possible?’ by Giorgio Agamben

Video commentary on Maurice Blanchot with English subtitles.

Giorgio Agamben is one of the leading figures in Italian philosophy and radical political theory, and in recent years, his work has had a deep impact on contemporary scholarship in a number of disciplines in the Anglo-American intellectual world. Born in Rome in 1942, Agamben completed studies in Law and Philosophy with a doctoral thesis on the political thought of Simone Weil, and participated in Martin Heidegger’s seminars on Hegel and Heraclitus as a postdoctoral scholar. He has taught at various universities, including the Universities of Macerata and Verona and was Director of Programmes at the Collège Internationale de Paris. He has been a Visiting Professor at various universities in the United States of America, and was a Distinguished Professor at the New School, University in New York. He caused a controversy when he refused to submit to the “biopolitical tattooing” requested by the United States Immigration Department for entry to the USA in the wake of the September 11, 2001 attacks.

Maurice Blanchot (September 27, 1907 – February 20, 2003) was a French pre-war leader of the Young Right, philosopher, literary theorist and writer of fiction. Blanchot was a distinctly modern writer who broke down generic boundaries, particularly between literature and philosophy. He began his career on the political right, but the experience of fascism altered his thinking to the point that he supported the student protests of May 1968. Like so many members of his generation, Blanchot was influenced by Alexandre Kojeve’s humanistic interpretation of Hegel and the rise of modern existentialism influenced by Heidegger and Sartre. His Literature and the Right to Death shows the influence that Heidegger had on a whole generation of French intellectuals.

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