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This review is taken from PN Review 90, Volume 19 Number 4, March - April 1993.

BODYMEANT Gabriel Josipovici, Text and Voice: Essays 1981-1991 (Carcanet) £25.00

These days it is rare to find a critic who can combine an unfailing sense of modernity with a deep understanding and appreciation of tradition. Gabriel Josipovici's latest collection of essays achieves just that, and what is more striking about this, his fourth major book of criticism, is the coherent way in which the disparate texts meld into a reflective and insightful whole. However, this is perhaps not so surprising when one considers that one of Josipovici's main themes in this collection is the unnerving nature of repetition. Josipovici is quick to invoke the more distinguished exponents of such material, and the presence of Proust is never far away, but at the same time he manages to illuminate a whole range of connections within literature, present and past, whose extensive and commonly unexplored features make this collection an unusual event in British literary criticism.

Amongst the more unfamiliar names he finds worthy of attention is Maurice Blanchot, the French novelist and critic, whose work is all too often cited over here merely as a precursor of later apocalyptic post-structuralists. Josipovici's essay, the introduction to a book of Blanchot's criticism he edited early in the 80's (incidentally the only British publication of Blanchot's work to date), serves as an admiring and admirable introduction to this writer's critical work. Like Josipovici, Blanchot's double role as critic and novelist puts him in a position to ignore the excesses of critics who have no practical engagement with the rigours of literary ...


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