"To die content": death and writing in the Chu Tien-Hsin's man of la Mancha

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Abstract

In this paper I discuss how Man of La Mancha, a story written by the Taiwanese novelist, Chu Tien-Hsin, resonates with the French philosopher Maurice Blanchot’s analysis of Franz Kafka’s reflections on death and writing. In his reading of Kafka’s writings, Blanchot notices the close and dynamic relationship between writing and death in his The Space of Literature. His primary argument is that writers are drawn to death in the same manner as they are drawn to the origin of creativity. I argue that a similar theme is also observable in Chu’s novella Man of La Mancha, which tells the story of a young freelance writer who obsessively prepares for his inevitable yet unpredictable death after experiencing a sudden illness. I use Man of La Mancha as a springboard to explore and contest Blanchot’s theory on death and writing. After giving brief overviews of Chu’s death narrative and Blanchot’s theory, I focus on Man of La Mancha in terms of Blanchot’s definition of récit (i.e. “a narrative of narrative”), and examine her story as a literary representation of the unique space containing both writing and death. I believe that a simultaneous reading of Chu and Blanchot’s discussion on death and writing will illuminate how writers situate themselves in the space of literature in which the best writing is possible.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)67-77
Number of pages11
JournalCaesura—Journal of Philological and Humanistic Studies
Volume4
Publication statusPublished - 2017

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Writer
Maurice Blanchot
French philosopher
Novelist
Taiwanese
Creativity
Contests
Illness

Cite this

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title = "{"}To die content{"}: death and writing in the Chu Tien-Hsin's man of la Mancha",
abstract = "In this paper I discuss how Man of La Mancha, a story written by the Taiwanese novelist, Chu Tien-Hsin, resonates with the French philosopher Maurice Blanchot’s analysis of Franz Kafka’s reflections on death and writing. In his reading of Kafka’s writings, Blanchot notices the close and dynamic relationship between writing and death in his The Space of Literature. His primary argument is that writers are drawn to death in the same manner as they are drawn to the origin of creativity. I argue that a similar theme is also observable in Chu’s novella Man of La Mancha, which tells the story of a young freelance writer who obsessively prepares for his inevitable yet unpredictable death after experiencing a sudden illness. I use Man of La Mancha as a springboard to explore and contest Blanchot’s theory on death and writing. After giving brief overviews of Chu’s death narrative and Blanchot’s theory, I focus on Man of La Mancha in terms of Blanchot’s definition of r{\'e}cit (i.e. “a narrative of narrative”), and examine her story as a literary representation of the unique space containing both writing and death. I believe that a simultaneous reading of Chu and Blanchot’s discussion on death and writing will illuminate how writers situate themselves in the space of literature in which the best writing is possible.",
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