Maurice Blanchot managed after World War II to become a key cult figure of the literary world, though he was known by contemporaries in France for his prior involvement in far-rightist politics. How did this happen? Why have literary critics, as in the case of Martin Heidegger and Paul de Man, chosen to ignore or suppress Blanchot's right-wing interwar and wartime writings, focusing instead on his postwar production? "Scandals and Aftereffect" provides an enlightening and provocative examination of these questions, as Stevan Ungar looks at 100 articles published under Blanchot's signature between 1932 and 1937 in such right-wing publications as: "Combat, La Revue Francaise, Reaction, La Revue du Vingteme Siecle" and "l'Insurge".
Using the concept of the "aftereffect" (developed in psychoanalysis to link the shock of disclosure to problems of repression), Ungar expands his study to Blanchot's writings into a broader analysis of cultural, political and historical amnesia in an attempt to resolve the following questions: How and when does critical understanding of the past develop when control over the memory of a specific period is contested among those who lived it and those whose access to it depends on the accounts of others? Why have historical accounts of the recent past become increasingly open to question and revision? How structural is this process, or is it purely peculiar to wartime periods and therefore tied to the nature of contemporary historical experiences? Addressing problems of method related to the convergence of interests among historians and literary scholars, Ungar includes an overview of current debates surrounding the contested memories of Vichy, the Holocaust, and World War II. "Scandal and Aftereffect" should make a crucial contribution to current debates about the function of memory in the relationship of history to cultural production and about the history of history itself.
Introduction - out of the past; Vichy as paradigm of contested memory; revising Martin Heidegger; white out; Blanchot and militancy; under erasure; modernity in a cold climate; aferthoughts and gray and zones.