APHELIS https://aphelis.net/ An iconographic and text archive related to communication, technology and art. Sun, 04 Sep 2022 17:38:51 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=6.0.2 https://aphelis.net/wp-content/uploads/2021/02/Favicon-Transparent-BG.png APHELIS https://aphelis.net/ 32 32 Communismus der Geister: Sources, Translations, Discussions https://aphelis.net/communismus-der-geister/ Sun, 21 Aug 2022 17:19:58 +0000 https://aphelis.net/?p=17784 • • • Manche helfen Dem Himmel. Diese siehet Der Dichter. Gut ist es, an andern sich Zu halten. Denn keiner trägt das Leben allein. Some help The heavens. These the poet Sees. It is good to keep To others. For no one bears life alone.1 • • • The following document lists relevant sources, […]

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A titled card shows the text “Communismus der Geister: Sources, Translations, Discussions” overlapping an image of the page from a manuscript in German

• • •

Manche helfen
Dem Himmel. Diese siehet
Der Dichter. Gut ist es, an andern sich
Zu halten. Denn keiner trägt das Leben allein.

Some help
The heavens. These the poet
Sees. It is good to keep
To others. For no one bears life alone.1

• • •

The following document lists relevant sources, translations, and discussions pertaining to the two-part fragment “Communismus der Geister” (“Communism of Spirits,” hereafter CdG). The fragment, first published in 1926, has been attributed to German poet Johann Christian Friedrich Hölderlin, although the attribution is debated. The document provides URL links for some of the references listed. It also provides links to corresponding PDF files, when available, including photo reproductions of the fragment.

Recently, the fragment has received renewed attention in English with the simultaneous publication of three documents authored by Joseph Albernaz, Assistant Professor of English and Comparative Literature at Columbia University. These three documents (listed immediately below) consist of a short introduction to a new English translation of the fragment, the translation itself (co-translated with David Brazil), and a 23-page scholarly discussion of the materials (“The Missing Word of History: Hölderlin and ‘Communism’,” hereafter MWoH). In the latter, Albernaz presents his essay as follow:

It contains a discussion of [Communism of Spirits]’s manuscript and editorial history, an analysis of its content and context, an argument for Hölderlin’s authorship and dating (to circa 1794), and a reflection on the significance of Hölderlin’s coining of “communism,” with a view to his legacy and reception up to the present. (MWoH 8)

The three documents can be accessed online (see below). The links to The Germanic Review may require institutional subscription (the “Introduction” is offered in free access at the time of writing). However, the same three documents have also been made available on Albernaz’s Academia.edu page.

At the time of writing, these three documents taken together offers one of the most thorough engagement with this fragment in English language. Many of the references listed here are mentioned in the “Introduction” document as well as in Albernaz’s main essay. Footnotes in both these texts offer important bibliographical indications.

This entry might be updated when new documents become available. One can quickly access the three sections of this entry using the following link:

Updated: 2022.09.04

• • •

Two page of a German manuscript titled “Communismus der Geister”
Pages 13 and 14 of the fragment “Communismus der Geister”. Württembergische Landesbibliothek, Hölderlin-Archiv. Call number: Cod.poet.et.phil.fol.63,V,g,13-14 [StA 4.1,306-308]. See below for more information.

• • •

Communismus der Geister – Sources

Below is a list of some of the main sources where the fragment can be consulted, including copies of the manuscripts. Throughout, it is important to keep in mind CdG is two related fragments (see Albernaz, “Introduction” 2): “Communismus der Geister” and [Disposition] (the latter is a title assigned by the editors of the Grosse Stuttgarter Ausgabe, hence the brackets).

Another important aspect is the fact these manuscript fragments do not bear Hölderlin’s handwriting, but rather the handwriting of Christoph Theodor Schwab. Most of the information below can be found in Albernaz’s essays. Additional details are provided here, including links and relevant PDF scans. Each source is individually referenced in chronological order of production, followed by accompanying comments.

  • Communismus der Geister” Cod.poet.et.phil.fol.63,V,g,13-14 (PDF), and [Disposition] Cod.poet.et.phil.fol.63,V,g,24 (PDF), both document from Württembergische Landesbibliothek, Hölderlin-Archiv, shared with permission.

    • These are the call numbers2 for the two fragments preserved at the Württembergische Landesbibliothek, in Stuttgart. These fragments are not included among the 373 digitized manuscript items of the Hölderlin collection available through Württembergis Landesbibliothek digital library (search for Hölderlin-Archiv), nor are they included in the diachronic presentation of the Homburg manuscript collection (Homburger Folioheft)

      As Albernaz explains in his main essay: “The text of CoS is found in Konvolut Vg, a neglected bundle of manuscripts in the Hölderlin Archive at the Württemberg state library in Stuttgart.” (MWoH 9). Albernaz offers a color facsimile of the first page bearing the title “Communismus der Geister” (MWoH 11).

      As mentioned, one important aspect common to both fragments is the fact they were not written by Hölderlin. Both rather display the handwriting of Christoph Theodor Schwab (1821-1883), editor and biographer of Hölderlin3. The assessment about the handwriting in both fragment can be found in Friedrich Beissner and Adolf Beck’s edition of Hölderlin’s complete work (Sämtliche Werke), Grosse Stuttgarter Ausgabe (hereafter StA), Volume 4.2, pp. 804-805 (see below for more details about this edition).

      The four physical pages of the manuscript for “Communismus der Geister” all show a handwritten note from an archivist in brackets: “[nicht von Hölderlin, Abschrift von Chr. Th. Schwab]” (“not from Hölderlin, transcription from Chr. Th. Schwab”). The fragment also makes heavy use of abbreviations. Adolf Beck provides a thorough examination of these in his accompanying reading of the text (Lesarten4) (see again StA 4.2, pp. 804-805).

      Neither of the two parts of the CdG fragment is dated. One of Albernaz’s main contributions is to propose c.1794 as a probable date of creation (compare with the Berlin Edition started by Hellingrath, which dates the fragment to 1793, in Volume 3, page 617: see below for more details).

  • Zinkernagel, Franz (1926). “Neue Hölderlin-Fünd,” Neue Schweizer Rundschau, Vol. XIX, Issue 4, April 1, 1926, pp. 333-348. Permalink (see specifically pp. 343-346, for both the discussion and the fragment)

    • As signalled in StA 4.2 (pp. 804-805), the first publication (Erster Druck) of the fragment is due to Franz Zinkernagel (1878-1935), also referenced in the “Introduction” essay by Albernaz. This essay is currently available online, as part of the online archive of Neue Schweizer Rundschau. Zinkernagel provided the second fragment with the editorial title [Disposition zu einem Aufsatz] (“Outline for an essay”). The critical discussion about the two-part fragment is found on pages 343-344, 346. See also Albernaz (MWoH 10).

  • Hölderlin, Friedrich (1926). Sämtliche Werke und Briefe, historico-critical edition (Kritische-historische Ausgabe) by Franz Zinkernagel, Volume 5 “Nachlese – Briefe an den Dichter,” Leipzig: Insel, pp. 324-328. Internet Archive, PDF.

    • After the announcement of his discovery in the Neue Schweizer Rundschau, Zinkernagel included both fragments in his own edition of Hölderlin Sämtliche Werke. Started in 1914, the edition was completed in 1926 with the publication of the fifth volume, where the fragments can be found, along with short editorial comments printed in smaller font. The item linked above at the Internet Archive has “1914” has its publication date. That’s not the publication date of the fifth volume, rather the year of publication of the first volume in the series. This edition of the Sämtliche Werke mostly carries the materials, with few editorial comments. Zinkernagel’s main editorial work (Lesarten und Erläuterungen: readings and explanations) were left out. It is only recently, in 2019, that they were finally published under the title Kritisch-historische Ausgabe von Franz Zinkernagel 1914-1926 (Göttingen: Wallstein, 2019; the books comes with a CD-ROM containing 1354 pages of the Sämtliche Werke und Briefe). CdG is not mentioned in this document (neither in the book, nor the CD-ROM).

  • Hölderlin, Friedrich (1943). Sämtliche Werke. Historisch-kritische Ausgabe, ed. Norbert Hellingrath, Friedrich Seebass, and Ludwig von Pigenot, Volume 3 “Gedichte – Empedokles – Philosophische Fragmente – Brief – 1798-1800,” Berlin: Propyläen, pp. 617-621. PDF.

    • The fragment is included in the Historical-critical edition (Historisch-kritische Ausgabe, also known as the Berlin Edition or Berliner Ausgabe) of Hölderlin’s complete work initiated by Norbert von Hellingrath in 1913 and completed by Friedrich Seebass and Ludwig von Pigenot in 1923. The first edition (Leipzig: Georg Müller) had six volumes, of which only the first three were published while Hellingrath was still alive. This first edition precedes Zinkernagel’s publication of his discovery in 1926, and consequently does not carry the fragment. The volume from 1943 referenced here is part of the third edition, published in four volumes.

      In this volume, the two-part fragment is classified among the “Philosophische Fragmente” (p. 614ff). More specifically, it is presented alongside other fragments which authorship is disputed (“bezüglich ihrer Autorschaft z. T. umstrittene Stücke gebracht” p. 617). The second part of the fragment is given a different editorial title: [Aufsatz-Entwurf über die Geschichtsperioden] (“Draft Essay on Historical Periods,” on page 621). This is the reference used in Martin Heidegger’s essay “Die Armut” (1945/1994: see “Discussions” below for more details).

      Both parts are preceded by a short editorial comment. For “Communismus der Geister”, the editors underline how Hellingrath did not considered the text, in Schwab handwriting, to be genuine (hence, it was not printed in previous editions). It is suggested the style is closer to Schelling. The editor nonetheless signals the necessity to consider the fact that Schwab, who knew Hölderlin’s handwriting well, estimated the fragment to be genuine and included in the Hölderlin Papers (Hölderlinpapieren). 1793 is given as the estimated date for the fragment.

      For the second part, titled [Aufsatz-Entwurf über die Geschichtsperioden], the matter is different. In the editorial note at the bottom of page 620, the proximity of this outline with the other part is asserted. The fragment is considered genuine based on the relationship between its themes, and themes found in Hölderlin’s late work (specifically the relation between the ancient world and the religious world).

  • Hölderlin, Friedrich (1956). Sämtliche Werke (Tempel Klassiker series), ed. Paul Stapf, Berlin & Darmstadt: Tempel, pp. 985-987. PDF.

    • A copy of this edition in one volume (1150 pages, including the table of content) is available at the Internet Archive, although the description is incorrect (it is misidentified as a volume of the Grosse Stuttgarter Ausgabe). This volume of the Tempel-Klassiker series is not a critical edition and contains very little explanations. The title of the first fragment is spelled “Kommunismus der Geister” (with a “K”), and as with the Berlin Edition (1943), the second part of the fragment is titled [Aufsatzentwurf über die Geschichtsperioden].

      The volume is listed in the “Hölderlin-Bibliographie 1956–1958” compiled by Maria Kohler for Volume 11 (1958-1960) of the Hölderlin Jahrbuch (1960, pp. 239; available online at the Hölderlin-Gesellschaft website). Paul Celan is said to have owned a two-volume copy of this Tempel-Klassiker edition5.

  • Hölderlin, Friedrich (1961). Sämtliche Werke (Grosse Stuttgarter Ausgabe), ed. Friedrich Beissner, Adolf Beck, Ute Oelmann, Volume 4, Part 1 “Der Tod des Empedokles – Aufsätze: Text und Erläuterungen,” Stuttgart: Cotta / W. Kohlhammer, pp. 306-309. PDF.

    • Completed between 1943 and 1985 in Stuttgart in 8 volumes, the Grosse Stuttgarter Ausgabe (hereafter StA) was for long time the most complete and authoritative for the complete work of Hölderlin. It is also the only edition entirely available online, hosted and maintained by the Württembergische Landesbibliothek: Zur Stuttgarter Hölderlin-Ausgabe online. All volumes can be downloaded in PDF form and are fully searchable.

      As noted in Albernaz’s “Introduction” the fragment appears toward the end of the volume, in a subsection of the “Appendix” (Anhang) titled “Zweifelhaftes” (doubtful, questionable). Far from being a mere detail, this labelling explains why CdG has long been –still is, to an extent– considered apocryphal: not authored nor written by Hölderlin himself. Albernaz’s recent contribution is entirely shaped (and documented) as an argument against this curious exclusion: indeed, the fragment is excluded by way of its inclusion in the “complete work” of Hölderlin (this predicament is not unique to CdG, as other items are filed under Zweifelhaftes in StA 4.1; other volumes of the series includes a Zweifelhaftes subsection).

      Alongside CdG, StA 4.1 also carries Friedrich Beissner’s explanation or discussion (Erläuterungen) of the two-part fragment, on page 427 (PDF). Beissner brings attention to the placement of the title (“Communismus der Geister”) and the “stylistic improbability” (“stilistischen Unwahrscheinlichkeit”) to exclude Hölderlin’s authorship. In doing so, he also mentions a letter written by Hölderlin in 1790, arguing that it cannot be used as an argument in favor of Hölderlin’s authorship (see immediately below for more about this letter). On the same page, commenting the second part of the fragment, [Disposition], Beissner asserts that it must be the draft for a continuation of the first (main) part6.

      In StA 4.2 (published in 1958), on pages 804-805 (PDF), we find further relevant comments pertaining to the transmission (Überlieferung) and readings (Lesarten) of the text, this time penned by Adolf Beck (editor of this volume). On page 804, he signals that the handwriting is from Christoph Schwab and adds in parenthesis that he also presumes Schwab to be the author (“der vermutlich der Verfasser ist”). The same comment is repeated on page 805, for the second part of the fragment, [Disposition].

      CdG is again mentioned by Adolf Beck in his explanation (Erläuterungen) for the letter by Hölderlin mentioned by Beissner in StA 4.1. This letter, also discussed by Albernaz (see MWoH 2, 20), was written in mid-November of 1790, to his sister Heinrike (diminutive “Rike”). In it, he discusses his plans to visit the chapel of Wurmlingen:

      Today it’s the fair. Rather than getting pushed around in the hustle and bustle I’m going for a walk with Hegel, who is in the same room as me. We’re going to the chapel at Wurmlingen with the famous view. (Friedrich Hölderlin. Essays and Letters, ed. and trans. Jeremy Adler and Charlie Louth, Penguin: New York, 2009, p. 6; see StA 6.1, page 57, where the letter is identified “BR 36” for Briefe or “letter” no. 36; the same numbering system is used in the French Pléiade edition, published by Gallimard in 1967: see pp. 64-65)

      Beck’s discussion can be found in StA 6.2, page 568-569. While suggesting that the walk mentioned by Hölderlin might have inspired what he described as the “religious-philosophical fragment” (das religionsphilosophische Fragment), he reiterates Beissner’s judgment by asserting that the fragment certainly has not been authored (verfasst) by Höderlin (“sicher nicht von Hölderlin verfaßt”).

  • Hölderlin, Friedrich (1976). Sämtliche Werke. Frankfurter Ausgabe, ed. D.E. Sattler, Volume 6 “Elegien und Epigram” ed. D.E. Sattler and Wolfram Groddeck, Frankfurt: Roter Stern, pp. 74-75. PDF.

    • This reference does not contain the CdG fragment. It is listed here to signal this very absence. As noted, both by Bruno C. Duarte and Joseph Albernaz, the CdG fragment was not included in the 20-volume Frankfurter Ausgabe (FHA) (plus 3 supplements; 9,000 pages, along with 2,760 facsimile), published between 1975 and 2008. Albernaz adds a precision: in Volume 6, Sattler comments on “Konvolut Vg,” the bundle of manuscripts in which Schwab had filed the CdG fragment, providing possible indications for its exclusion from the Frankfurter edition (MWoH 13). The indications can be found on pages 74-75, referenced above. For more about the significance of the Frankfurter Ausgabe, see footnote no. 6.

• • •

Communismus der Geister – Translations

Below is a chronological list of various translations of the CdG fragment, in chronological order of publication. For each entry, the language of translation is first provided in brackets, along with the year of publication. This is followed by the translated title of the fragment, the name of the translator (if known), and the full bibliographical reference. When available, a URL link and a link to a PDF document of the translation is provided. Some of these translations are listed in Albernaz’s “Introduction” (see page 1, footnote 2). This is not meant to be an exhaustive list, if only because the search for translations in non-Latin scripts presents challenges.

  • [French, 1956] “Communisme spirituel,” trans. by Armel Guerne, in Les romantiques allemands, ed. Armel Guerne, Paris: Desclé De Brouwer, pp. 58-60. PDF, also available online.

    • As noted by Albernaz, this edition only offers a translation of the first part of the fragment. The second part, [Disposition] is not included, not in this 1956 edition, nor in subsequent editions. According to the editors of the 2004 reedition, this 1956 edition was completed only in 1963. The translation of the title takes some liberty regarding the German title (compare with Jacques D’Hondt’s translation below). This translation is also listed in the “Hölderlin-Bibliographie 1956–1958” compiled by Maria Kohler for Volume 11 (1958-1960) of the Hölderlin Jahrbuch (1960, pp. 242; online; note that while listing the content of the anthology Kohler spells the fragment “Kommunismus der Geister”).

  • [French, 1989] “Le communisme des esprits,” trans. Jacques D’Hondt, in Hölderlin, Cahier de L’Herne No. 57, ed. Jean-François Courtine, Paris: L’Herne, pp. 239-241. PDF, also available online.

    • This translation is based on the version published by Beissner, in StA 4.1, pp. 306-309 (in the accompanying essay, the volume is incorrectly dated from 1951: it should read 1961). This French translation is preceded by a 20-page essay, referenced in the “Discussions” section below.

  • [Italian, 1995] “Il comunismo degli spiriti,” trans. Domenico Carosso, in Il comunismo degli spiriti. Forma e storia in un frammento di Hölderlin, Rome: Donzelli, pp. 67-75. PDF.

    • This Italian translation is included in a book entirely dedicated to CdG, also writen by Domenico Carosso. More information can be found below, in the “Discussions” section. The translation, based on the version published in StA 4.1 (Carosso dates this volume from 1951: he is likely carrying over the typo found in D’Hondt, as it should read 1961; see Il comunismo degli spiriti, page 20, footnote 3).

  • [Spanish, 2006] “Comunismo de los espíritus,” trans. Alberto Arvelo Ramos, in Revista Filosofia, No. 17-18, Edition especial 2006-2007, pp. 9-11. PDF, online reference.

    • This Spanish translation is based on Paul Stapf’s 1956 edition of the Sämtliche Werke published in the Tempel Klassiker series (see above, in the “Sources” section), although it does not include the second part of the fragment (which in Stapf’s edition is titled [Aufsatzentwurf über die Geschichtsperioden]). The translation is preceded by a short editorial comment. Revista Filosofia is the journal of the Master of Philosophy, at the Faculty of Humanities and Education of the Universidad de Los Andes (ULA, Mérida, Venezuela).

      Alberto Arvelo Ramos (1936-2010) was a prolific writer and a professor at the Philosophy Department of the ULA. In 2011, he was the subject of a documentary film directed by Alejandro Victorero. An obituary is available online: “Falleció el escritor venezolano Alberto Arvelo Ramos” (August 2, 2010).

  • [Greek, 2012] “Ο κομμουνισμός των πνευμάτων,” trans. Τάσος Μπέτζελος, in Ουτοπία: διμηνιαία έκδοση θεωρίας και πολιτισμού, Issue 100, May-June 2012, pp. 17-19. PDF, also available online.

    • This Greek translation is based not on the German text, but on the French translation produced by Jacques D’Hondt for the Cahier Hölderlin published by Édition de L’Herne, in 1989 (see above). It includes both parts of the fragment. It this 100th issue of Ουτοπία, it is accompanied by a full translation of the essay Jacques D’Hondt wrote about the fragment for the same Cahier Hölderlin (see Discussions below).

  • [English, 2018] “Communism of Spirits,” trans. Hunter Bolin, in Tripwire, Issue 14 “The Red Issue,” Oakland, pp. 264-266. PDF, also available online.

    • This English translation covers both part of the fragment. It appeared alongside an essay by Bruno C. Duarte discussing the apocryphal fragment (see below, in Discussions). It does not explicitly indicate which source was used (Duarte’s essay have references to different editions of Hölderlin’s Sämtliche Werke).

• • •

Communismus der Geister – Discussions

This is not meant to be an exhaustive list of every fleeting mention of CdG, nor is it a list of general discussions about Hölderlin and communism. The objective is rather to collect references where the fragment CdG is explicitly discussed (whether it is about the issue of authorship, about its content, or about both). Some of these discussions are thorough and lengthy, while others are limited to a few lines of text. As with the translations listed above, each item appears in chronological order, alongside the language of the reference. A full bibliographical notice follows, accompanied by a relevant URL link and PDF document, where it applies. Each time, accompanying notes further document the reference.

  • [German, 1928] Wilhelm Böhm, Hölderlin, Vol. 1, Halle-Saale: Niemeyer, pp. 117, 228, 315-334. PDF.

    • This is the first volume of a massive, two-volume biography of Hölderlin written by Wilhem Böhm (1877-1957). In the first volume published in 1928, the fragment is mentioned on several occasions, but specifically discussed and analyzed over the course of a 19-page section (pp. 315-334, in the first volume). The discussion is entirely focused on the content of the fragment: Böhm does not discussed the matter of authorship and seems to take it for granted.

      Along with Paul Ernst, Böhm (1877-1957) had previously edited the Friedrich Hölderlins. Gesammelte Werke published in three volumes in 1905 (Jena and Leipzig:  Eugen Diederichs). In 1926, not long after Franz Zinkernagel’s first publication of the CdG fragment in Neue Schweizer Rundschau, Böhm mentioned it in an essay he wrote about another important fragment, “The Oldest Systematic Program of German Idealism,” which he attributed to Hölderlin7. In the “Afterword” to this essay from 1926, Böhm enthusiastically mentions Zinkernagel’s discovery of the two-part fragments. Furthermore, the question of authorship seems to make no doubt to him, as he suggests Zinkernagel’s caution on the topic is likely superfluous (“Zinkernagels große Vorsicht in bezug auf die Echtheit der nur von Schwabs Hand überlieferten Texte nun wohl überflüssig wird.” 1926, p. 425).

  • [German, 1940/1963] Wilhelm Michel, Das Leben Friedrich Hölderlins, Darmstadt: Wissenschaftl. Buchgesellschaft, 1963, pp. 63-64. Internet Archive, PDF.

    • First published in 1940 (Bremen : Schünemann, 580 pp., with subsequent reeditions by the same publisher), this biography by Wilhelm Michel (1877-1942) was reissued in 1963 with a foreword by Friedrich Beissner, and then again on a number of occasions (see the entry for Wilhelm Michel in the Katalog der Deutschen Nationalbibliothek). In his 1990 essay on Hölderlin biographers, Emery E. George observes of the one authored by Michel: “of any biography of the poet, this one has come closest to the status of a definitive work”(“Hölderlin and His Biographers,” 1990: 64).

      Michel mentions the fragment “Communismus der Geister” briefly on a few occasions. In the 1963 edition, the mentions appear on page 63-64, 168 (spelled “Kommunismus”), 226 and 5318. On pages 63-64, the fragment is quoted at lenght and discussed in the context of Hölderlin’s relationship with Hegel. Michel cite Zinkernagel’s fifth volume of his 1926 “Hölderlinausgabe” as the source for the fragment (see “Sources” above). Michel also highlights the relationship between the theme of the fragment and Lessing’s Spinozist motto “Έν καì Πãν.” (p. 64).

      Michel observes that while the CdG fragment does not have Hölderlin’s style, it has his spirit9, and the spirit of the friendship that connected him to his friends (Hegel and Schelling): “Die Fassung hat nicht Hölderlins Stil, sondern weist eher auf Hegel. Aber Hölderlins Geist und das, was ihn mit den zwei Freunden verband, ist deutlich in der Niederschrift zugegen.” (p. 63)

  • [German, 1945/1994] Martin Heidegger, “Die Armut,” lecture held on June 27, 1945; first published in Heidegger Studies Volume 10, 1994, pp. 5-11. PDF. See below for English and French translations.

    • This short lecture on the theme of “poverty” revolves mostly around a single line extracted from the second part of the CdG fragment, [Aufsatz-Entwurf über die Geschichtsperioden] (as it is titled in the edition used by Heidegger):

      Es koncentrirt sich bei uns alles auf’s Geistige, wir sind arm geworden, um reich zu werden.

      For us everything is concentrated upon the spiritual, we have become poor in order to become rich. (trans. Thomas Kalary and Frank Schalow, “Poverty,” in Heidegger, Translation, and the Task of Thinking: Essays in Honor of Parvis Emad, 2011, p. 3; online, access restricted)

      The first version published in German in 1994 opens with this quote, which is provided with the reference “(III3, 621)” (see p. 5)10. In the accompanying editorial comment (“Editorische Bemerkung”) appended at the very end of the version published in 1994, Friedrich-Wilhelm von Herrmann (1934-2022) further documents the reference for this quote, as well as for another quote used in the lecture (not related to the CdG fragment): “Die beiden Hölderlin-Textstellen werden von Heidegger nach der dritten Auflage (1943) der Hellingrathschen Hölderlin-Ausgabe wiedergegeben.” (1994, p. 11). Heidegger is using the third volume of the Sämtliche Werke. Historisch-kritische Ausgabe initiated by Norbert Hellingrath11 (the CdG fragment would only appear in Beissner’s Grosse Stuttgarter Ausgabe in 1961). To the extent Heidegger’s lecture is concerned with the spiritual dimension of “Communism” (instead of the material dimensions), Heidegger likely consulted the first part of the fragment, or at least its title (“Communismus der Geister”), although it is not once mentioned explicitly. Philippe Lacoue-Labarthe develops this aspect in the presentation he penned for the French translation of the lecture he co-authored with Ana Samardzija in 2004 (see below for more details).

      As indicated by von Herrmann, the 12-page manuscript for this 1945 lecture was published in volume 73 (Part 1) of the Gesamtausgabe, along with accompanying notes (Zum Ereignis-Denken, ed. Peter Trawny, GA 73.1, Frankfurt: Vittorio Klostermann, 2013, pp. 869-884; at the time of writing, this volume has not yet been translated).

      Heidegger also recopied the same line (calling it a motto: Leitwort) from the second part of the CdG in a fragment on language ([Fragen zur Sprache]), along with the same reference to the 1943 edition of the third volume of Hellingrath’s Sämtliche Werke. Historisch-kritische Ausgabe. This fragment is collected in Volume 74 of the Gesamtausgabe: Zum Wesen der Sprache und Zur Frage nach der Kunst (Frankfurt: Vittorio Klostermann, ed by Thomas Regehly, 2010, page 164). The English translation of GA 74 was published in the summer of 2022: On the Essence of Language and the Question of Art (trans. Adam Knowles, Polity Press, 2022; see Wiley.com).

      While it is not possible to list every translation of Die Armut, one cannot be overlooked, as it is preceded by an essay that explicitly engages with the CdG fragment: the French translation published by Philippe Lacoue-Labarthe and Ana Samardzija, published in 2004. It is listed below, as a separate item, chronologically (under “2004”).

  • [French, 1989] Jacques D’Hondt “Le meurtre de l’histoire,” in Hölderlin, Cahier de L’Herne No. 57, ed. Jean-François Courtine, Paris: L’Herne, pp. 219-238. PDF.

    • This is one of the most thorough and relevant engagement with the CdG fragment currently available. Jacques D’Hondt (1920-2012), who also provided a French translation of the fragment in the same volume (see “Translations” above), is mostly known for his pathbreaking work on Hegel, having published the first biography of the German philosopher in French language (Hegel. Biographie, Paris: Calmann-Lévy, 1998). Jacques D’Hondt also wrote on the topic of the French Revolution in relation to romanticism, as well as on Karl Marx philosophy.

      Aside from acknowledging the novelty in the use of the word “Communismus” (which he likens to a “world premiere” p. 222), D’Hondt also examines the authenticity of the fragment, but not separately from its content. In other words, he suggests the concepts such as authenticity and authorship might not be best suited for a text titled “Communismus der Geister.” He argues Hegel, Hölderlin, Schelling and their friends were serious about the communal nature of their ideas12:

      Ce goût de la recherche et de la création en commun se rattache à des orientations philosophiques profondes, et caractéristiques de l’époque. L’œuvre n’appartient ni à l’un, ni à l’autre, ni à personne. Elle émane, en dernière instance, d’un esprit impersonnel, supérieur, le seul créateur véritable. (p. 223)

      D’Hondt dates the fragment from circa 1790. He also analyses the fragment in relation to various themes: Middle Ages, unity of the spirit, community, Spinozism, common good, and pantheism.

  • [French, 1989] Jacques Grandjonc, Communisme / Kommunismus / Communism. Origine et développement international de la terminologie communautaire prémarxiste des utopistes aux néo-babouvistes 1785-1842: Historique, Vol. 1, Trier: Karl-Marx-Haus, p. 63, footnote no. 164, PDF. Copies of both volumes can be found online: Vol. 1, Vol. 2.

    • While this is a short mention in a footnote, the reference to Jacques Grandjonc (1933-2000), who was a Germanist and specialist of Marx (he worked as an editor for the Marx-Engels-Gesamtausgabe), is nonetheless important. Grandjonc’s two-volume examination of the origins of the word “communism” (in French, English, and German) remains unmatched13. It offers a prehistory of the lexical field attached to the idea of community (“vocabulaire communautaire”), before the word “communism” acquired a more stable and systematic meaning in the 1840s.

      For such a study, a title like “Communismus der Geister” written in the mid-1790s should be significant. Yet, Grandjonc relegates the reference to a footnote, arguing it is misleading (“fausse piste”). In doing so, he refers to Volume 3 of the third edition of the Berliner Ausgabe, from 1943 (i.e. Hellingrath’s edition, completed by Seebass and Pigenot). The page range he offers (pp. 617-620) excludes the second part of the fragment. Arguing it must have been added by Schwab, Grandjonc judges the title “Communismus der Geister” to be inauthentic: “… dont le titre à tout le moins ne peut être considéré comme authentique” (p. 63).

      In his essay, Albernaz suggests there are issues with Grandjonc’s assessment (MWoH 25, footnote 56). At least two can be further documented here. First, Grandjonc refers to Jacques D’Hondt to suggest the fragment (not the title) bears Hegel’s handwriting. Nowhere in his essay “Le meurtre de l’histoire” entirely dedicated to the fragment does D’Hondt –a specialist of Hegel– suggest it is written in Hegel’s handwriting (1989, see above). D’Hondt rather follows Beissner and the StA in attributing the handwriting to Schwab. D’Hondt further adds that neither the handwriting, the layout, nor the style corresponds to Hölderlin, no more than to Hegel (“…pas plus d’ailleurs que de Hegel.” p. 221)14. Second, Grandjonc’s suggestion that a French translation of the CdG fragment was published in “Leonhard, Hölderlin, Seghers (1963), p. 81” is incorrect. That page is the end of an introduction by Rudolf Leonhard, where he merely mentions the title of the fragment (PDF: front/end matter). A translation of the fragment is not included in this volume.

      Grandjonc’s two-volume study is the result of a thesis (thèse d’État) he submitted in 1979 (available online). As noted, the first edition was published in 1989, by the Karl-Marx-Haus, in Trier (volumes 39/1 and 39/2 of the Schriften aus dem Karl-Marx-Haus). In 2013, the two volumes were reedited as a single volume by French publisher Malassis (website). It was republished again in 2021 as a single volume by French publisher La Grange Batelière (website).

  • [French, 1994] Jean-Marie Vaysse, Totalité et subjectivité: Spinoza dans l’idéalisme allemand, Paris: Vrin, pp. 129-132. PDF.

    • Vaysee’s brief mention and discussion of the CdG fragment does not cover the question of authorship. Instead, Vaysse refers to Jacques D’Hondt translation and essay (1989) in a footnote.

      The reference is nonetheless valuable to the extent that it further highlights the relation between Hölderlin and Spinoza (Hölderlin read Spinoza and wrote about his ideas). Vaysse brings the idea of a “communism of spirits” alongside Spinoza’s pantheism: “Pour Hölderlin, comme pour Spinoza, la véritable conmunauté est abolition de toutes les scissions.” (129). In another footnote, Vaysse quotes from Alexandre Matheron’s important book, Individu et communauté chez Spinoza (Paris: Minuit, 1969), where the author uses the expression “communauté des esprits” in relation to Spinoza, without any reference to Hölderlin (Vaysse, 1994, p. 129, footnote no. 2; Matheron, 1969, p. 612: PDF). Elsewhere, comparisons could be made with Averroes’s theory of the unity of the intellect, and Karl Marx’s “general intellect”.

  • [Italian, 1995] Domenico Carosso, Il comunismo degli spiriti. Forma e storia in un frammento di Hölderlin, Rome: Donzelli. Editor website. PDF (front/end matter and table only).

    • At the time of writing, this is the only book (75 pages) entirely dedicated to the CdG fragment (both parts). As mentioned in the “Translations” section, it also offers an Italian translation of the entire fragment, along with the German text. The chapter dedicated to the history of the fragment (“La storia del testo” pp. 19-26) mostly relies on documents and arguments shared in Jacques D’Hondt’s essay “Le meurtre de l’histoire.” The other chapters focus on topics such as the notion of form, individual and community, Christianism and science, Spinoza, and Heidegger.

      Domenic Carosso (1946-2020) wrote books on philosophy, gastronomy, and cinema (collaborating with Danièle Huillet and Jean-Marie Straub on a number of occasions between 1978 and 1988). He also published several translations (a translation of Hegel’s Fenomenologia dello spirito was left unpublished). He published additional essays on Hölderlin online: “Mihai Eminescu incontra Friedrich Hölderlin” (2016) and “Ernst Jünger lettore di Hölderlin” (2017)

  • [Italian, 1998] Mario Tronti, La politica al tramonto, Turin: Giulio Einaudi, 1998, pp. 188-189. PDF.

    • Mario Tronti briefly discusses the CdG fragment, which he borrows from Carosso. Following Carosso, he brings it in line with another fragment, the “The Oldest Systematic Program of German Idealism.” Tronti’s discussion is mostly concerned with the state of politics in the 20th century. The fragment offers an opportunity for comparison with the tumultuous time of the 1790s in Europe. The French translation of Tronti’s book in available online: La politique au crépuscule, trans. Michel Valensi, Paris: Éditions de l’éclat, see specifically the chapter “Kommunismus oder Europa.”

  • [French, 2004] Philippe Lacoue-Labarthe, “Présentation,” in Martin Heidegger, La pauvreté (Die Armut), trans. Philippe Lacoue-Labarthe and Ana Samardzija, Strasbourg: Presses universitaires de Strasbourg, pp. 5-65 (publisher website).

    • Philippe Lacoue Labarthe (1940-2007) was a specialist of the work of Hölderlin and Heidegger, having published both extensive analysis and translations of their work (often in collaboration with Jean-Luc Nancy). In this presentation of a French translation of “Die Armut”, Lacoue-Labarthe promptly focuses on the source document used by Heidegger, but not mentioned in his lecture (aside from the opening quote): the CdG fragment. Lacoue-Labarthe quotes at lenght from the fragment (using StA 4.1 as a source), while also relying on Jacques D’Hondt analysis and translation (from 1989, listed above). In doing so, he mentions the first publication of the fragment by Franz Zinkernagel in 1926, and signales its classification in Beissner’s StA as “Zweifelhaftes” (“douteux” in French; see page 54 endnote no. 5). He also discusses the significance of the coinage of “Communismus” in German, referring indirectly to a publication by Jacques Grandjonc from 1975 (see page 55, endnote no. 12). He also acknowledges the earlier but partial French translation by Armel Guerne (see pp. 55-56, endnote no. 14).

  • [French, 2004] Rita Bischof, “Les romantiques allemands et l’impossible mythe de la modernité,” in Europe. Revue littéraire, Issue no. 900, “Le romantisme révolutionnaire,” April 2004, pp. 22-40. PDF.

    • Rita Bischof is an independent scholar based in Berlin. She wrote extensively on Georges Bataille, modernity, and the surrealist movement. In this four-part essay published in an issue of Europe entirely dedicated to revolutionary romanticism, Bischof explores the call for a new mythology that runs from the friendships of the Tübinger Stift all the way to the surrealist movement of the 20th century. The second part of her essay offers a detailed discussion of the CdG fragment. Like others Bischof also identifies a relation between the CdG fragment and “The Oldest systematic program…” fragment, suggesting that the former paved the way to the latter:

      Il n’y a pas de doute: avec ces réflexions Hölderlin s’est déjà engagé sur le chemin qui mène quelques années plus tard au Plus ancien programme systématique de l’idéalisme allemand (pp. 28-29).

      Bischof mentions a few details about the CdG fragment, including the date of first publication. In her analysis, she relies on the French translation by Jacques D’Hondt. Early in the second part of the essay, she asserts the value of the fragment is undisputable, regardless of the issue of authorship:

      Même si par la suite on s’est demandé si Hölderlin en était vraiment l’auteur, s’il était seul à l’avoir composé, la valeur du texte est indiscutable. (p. 28)

      A shorter version of the text, based mostly but not entirely on the second part of the French essay, was published the same year in the German art journal Herzattacke under the title “Über Holderlins Communismus der Geister”: Herzattacke. Literatur- und Kunstzeitschrift. 16. Jahrgang mit Sondernummer, 2004/1, Berlin, pp. 18-20, 25-27 (pp. 21-24 display two original lithographies by Mark Lammert; PDF). Only 95 copies of this volume were printed (for reference).

  • [French, 2004 or 2005] Anonymous, “Le bel enfer” in La fête est finie, Lille: La Brèche, p. 98-100. PDF. Available online (alernative link). Bibliographical references: Centre International de Recherches sur l’Anarchisme (CIRA); Le Catalogue général des éditions et collections anarchistes francophones (Cgécaf).

    • This reference points to a very brief mention of the CdG fragment. It is nonetheless listed here because the essay in which it appears was translated into various language, providing the fragment with additional visibility online (see below).

      On page 99 (or on the accompanying website), the fragment is introduced as a “strange fragment by Hölderlin” along with the German title “Communismus der Geister.” Attention is called to the spelling of “Communismus,” atypical for the time it was produced, which is dated to 1798 (without further explanation). Aside from the title, the date, and the attribution to Hölderlin, the fragment is not documented in any way.

      This book was published anonymously: no author is mentioned in the printed version, nor any other indication (year, publisher, city, etc.) aside from the table of content. The content of the book reproduces the content one can find on its online version. The fact that it is often associated with the anonymous publication Tiqqun might explains why excerpts can be found online, in the original French as well as in translations into various languages: English, Spanish (alt. link, alt. translation), Italian (translated by Marcello Tarì).

  • [French, 2010] Marc Goldschmit, Hölderlin dans l’absolu romantique hors de lui,” in Po&sie, Vol. 4, No. 134, pp. 93-113.

    • Like others mentioned here, French philosopher Marc Goldschmit reads the CdG fragment alongside “The Oldest Systematic Program of German Idealism” (especially pp. 109ff). The authenticity of the fragment is assumed without discussion and dated as being posterior to 1790. Aside from that, the fragment is not documented, nor provided with any reference. Otherwise, this is currently one of the most thorough discussions of the fragment in French, after D’Hondt (1989), Lacoue-Labarthe (2004) and Bischof (2004).

  • [English, 2018] Bruno C. Duarte, “Apocryphal Politics — Hölderlin’s Communism of Spirits,” in Tripwire, Issue 14 “The Red Issue,” Oakland, pp. 267-278. PDF, also available online.

    • This essay entirely dedicated to the CdG fragment was published alongside the 2018 English translation of the fragment by Hunter Bolin, in the same issue of Tripwire (see above “Translations”).

      This five-part essay explicitly discusses the issue of authorship surrounding the CdG fragment. Like D’Hondt, Duarte examines the issue in relation to the themes present in the fragment. In doing so, he engages with Beissner’s argument, while describing visual aspects of the manuscript (its layout). He also compares the fragment to the “The Oldest Systematic Program of German Idealism,” but mostly to point out differences instead of similitudes. Like Albernaz, Duarte also borrows the theme of the “riddle,” present in the CdG fragment (Rätsel, or Räthsel as it is spelled on the fragment).

      Bruno C. Duarte received his Ph.D. in Philosophy from the University Marc Bloch in 2007, with a thesis on Hölderlin produced under the supevision of Philippe-Lacoue Labarthe and Gérard Bensussan (Sudoc catalog). He translated a collection of essays on Hölderlin written by Lacoue-Labarthe into Portugese (Textos sobre Hölderlin, Vendaval editor, 2005). Also of interest for the topic at hand is an interview he conducted with Lacoue-Labarthe in 2005 in French (De Hölderlin à Marx : mythe, imitation, tragédie,” Labyrinthe, Vol. 3, No. 22, pp. 121-133).

• • •

Epilogue

Friedrich Seebass once suggested a whole history could be written about the many ways Hölderlin’s written work was massacred: truncated texts, altered poems, destroyed letters. It is possible Beissner’s paradoxical, yet canonical exclusion of the fragment from the Sämtliche Werke might have sealed its fate from the perspective of historical-critical editions. However, both what the rich discussions documented above, and what Albernaz’s recent research further highlight, is just how valuable this particular fragment remains.

This evaluation happens despite, or maybe because of said exclusion. From having been authoritatively deemed inauthentic or improper, the fragment becomes properly suited for free use (“the free use of the proper” / “der frei Gebrauch des Eigenen15). The double riddle it presents us with –its authenticity, but also the “riddle [Räthsel] whose solution is missing”– has clearly sustained a dialogue since it was first published in 1926. This is the dialogue that we are, while we listen to each other: “Seit ein Gespräch wir sind und hören voneinander16.

In the process of sharing, we realize that our thoughts are not our own, but rather originates between friends, “in conversation and in correspondence” (“im Gespräch und Brief”). Partaking in this “communism of thought,” as Dionys Mascolo once called it, we are ultimately given the opportunity to rekindle with unity. The authorship of this unique fragment could ultimately be claimed by anyone who shares its concerns, well beyond –and certainly despite– any authoritative scholarship. For if there is one thing it reminds us, is that “communism” has been haunting our collective psyche for much longer than usually assumed (“κοινὰ τὰ φίλων εἶναι”: “friends have all things in common,” argued the Pythagoreans). This value, as Jacques Derrida once wrote regarding another apocryphal fragment, “[n]o philological fundamentalism will ever efface”. The massacre [Verhunzung] Seebass perceived is a loss that might have made us collectively richer: “wir sind arm geworden, um reich zu werden.”

• • •

Acknowledgments

For their assistance over various aspects of this research, I would like to thank Professor Joseph Albernaz, Ulrike Seegräber (Hölderlin Archive, Stuttgart) and Prof. Dr. Daniel Bellingradt. For their insightful input, I am also grateful to Prof. Sarah Choukah (Université de l’Ontario français), Prof. Gerardo Munoz (Lehig University), Andrew Santana Kaplan (Emory University), and Agata Mergler (York University). I remain responsible for mistakes and typos.

• • •

1. Friedrich Hölderlin, “Die Titanen,” in Sämtliche Werke (Grosse Stuttgarter Ausgabe), ed. Friedrich Beissner, Adolf Beck, Ute Oelmann, Volume 2, Part 1 “Gedichte Nach 1800,” ed. Friedrich Beissner, Stuttgart: W. Kohlhammer, 1951, p. 218, lines 44-46. English translation by William McNeill and Julia Ireland, in Martin Heidegger, Hölderlin’s Hymn “Remembrance”, Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2018, p. 140.↩︎︎

2. A few additional notes regarding the call numbers. Following the practice in use at the Württembergische Landesbibliothek (WLB), a full notation for the first fragment could read:

Cod.poet.et.phil.fol.63,V,g,13-14 [StA 4.1,306-308]

The first part is the item Signatur. It identifies the handwritten manuscript as being located in codex poeticus et philologicus folio 63, fascicle V [the roman numeral “5”], g [alphabetical ordering], pages 13 and 14. In the archive, the individual pages also have the usual mention of “r” and “v” for recto and verso (for instance the title page of CdG starts on 13r), as well as an indication if a side of the page was left blank (for instance, if the verso of a given page has no text, the note “v = leer” is added).

The second part identifies the location of the item in the Grosse Stuttgarter Ausgabe edition, in Volume (Band) 4, Part (Hälfte) 1, pages 306 to 308. See another example (JPG) of this notation system for a different item available in the WLB collection. The Deutsche Digitale Bibliothek uses the same notation system (same item, JPG). A detailed examination of the manuscript can be found in the corresponding “Lesarten” (readings) offered by Adolf Beck in volume 4.2 of the StA edition (1958: 804-805).↩︎︎

3. See George, Emery E. (1990). “Hölderlin and His Biographers,” The Journal of English and Germanic Philology, Vol. 89, No.1, pp. 51–85.↩︎︎

4. The translation for technical terms pertaining to German editorial practice is based on Contemporary German Editorial Theory, ed. Hans Walter Gabler, George Bornstein, and Gillian Borland Pierce, Ann Arbor: The University of Michigan Press, 1995 (publisher website). See specifically “Translation of Technical Terms,” pp. xi-xii. ↩︎︎

5.See Charles Bambach, Thinking the Poetic Measure of Justice: Hölderlin-Heidegger-Celan, Albany: SUNY Press, 2013, p. 204. As noted by Albernaz, Celan does briefly mention the CdG fragment (MWoH 28). Two mentions can be found in Mikrolithen sinds, Steinchen. Die Prosa aus dem Nachlaß. Kritische Ausgabe, on pages 38 and 119 (Frankfurt: Suhrkamp, 2005). This 948-page volume was republished in 2018. The English, Italian and Spanish translations available offers selections from the original German volume. In the English edition, the mentions can be found on pages 28 and 113, with no additional editorial note (Microliths They Are, Little Stone, trans. Pierre Joris, New York: Contra Mundum Press, 2000, PDF). ↩︎︎

6. Albernaz rightfully brings attention to the significant political dimensions of Hölderlin’s reception (MWoH 12-13). Friedrich Beissner joined the National Socialist Teachers League (Nationalsozialistischer LehrerbundNSLB) in 1933, and the Nazi Party (Nationalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiterpartei, NSDAP) in 1937. As Albernaz acknowledges, this can hardly be used to explain Beissner’s treatment of CdG (that is, labelling it as “Zweifelhaftes” in the StA). For instance, the so-called Frankfurter Hölderlin-Ausgabe (also known as the Roter Stern edition, after its publisher) does not carry the fragment, even though its editor Dietrich Eberhard Sattler’s political views are in stark opposition to Beissner: “In the ongoing Hölderlin scholarship since the 1970 bicentenary, the new Frankfurter Hölderlin-Ausgabe (FHA) is rapidly acquiring both preeminence and notoriety among contributions that, knowingly or seemingly, have attempted to “color the poet red”.” (“Frankfurter Hölderlin-Ausgabe” review by Emery E. George, Monatshefte, Vol. 70, No. 1, Spring, 1978, p. 58; Sattler’s edition had previously been dubbed a “political event”; see also MWoH 13). Wilhelm Böhm, who enthusiastically accepted the CdG fragment as authentic (see “Discussions” above), was also a member of both the National Socialist Teachers League and the Nazi Party. In a book that played a significant role in advancing the theory of Hölderlin’s allegiance to Jacobin ideals (the “Deutsche Jakobiner” as the main chapter is titled), the French author Pierre Bertaux (1907-1986) dismisses the fragment in a footnote, aligning with Adolf Beck’s evaluation (i.e. the style is not authentic; see, Hölderlin und die Französische Revolution, Frankfurt: Suhrkamp, 1969, p. 109 and p. 170, note no. 70, PDF). ↩︎︎

7.Zweck der vorliegenden Betrachtung ist es, in Hölderlin den Verfasser nachzuweisen.” (p. 341). See “Hölderlin als Verfasser des ‘Ältesten Systemprogramms des deutschen Idealismus’,” in Deutsche Vierteljahrsschrift für Literaturwissenschaft Und Geistesgeschichte, Vol. 4, Issue 3, 1926, pp. 339-426; online: institutional subscription might be required). Since its first publication in 1926, the CdG fragment has often been compared to, and discussed alongside “The Oldest Systematic Program…” fragment.↩︎︎

8.In the first edition from 1940, the corresponding page numbers are 59-60, 157 (spelled “Kommunismus”), 210 and 492 (Google Books). In the edition published in 2013 under the title Friedrich Hölderlin. Eine Biographie (Hamburg: Severus), the corresponding page numbers are 53-54, 141 (spelled “Kommunismus”), 189, 443 (Google Books). ↩︎︎

9. This is a common assessment in discussions about the CdG fragment: it might be apocryphal, but clearly it relates to Hölderlin’s ideas. In his essay “Le meurtre de l’histoire,” D’Hondt quotes Yvon Gauthier from his book L’arc et le cercle : l’essence du langage chez Hegel et Hölderlin: “Bien que ce fragment soit considéré comme douteux, on peut penser qu’il exprime fidèlement les idées de Hölderlin.” (Paris-Montreal: Desclée de Brouwer, 1969, pp. 117-118, note 22, PDF). ↩︎︎

10. The “3” indicated in superscript and reproduced in various translations is not a footnote, but rather follows the German convention for indicating editions of work. Heidegger is quoting from the third edition of the Berliner Ausgabe. The first two editions of the same Berliner Ausgabe were published in 6 volumes (instead of four, for the third edition), and do not carry the fragment Heidegger is discussing.↩︎︎

11. Heidegger’s essay “Hölderlin und das Wesen der Dichtung,” first published in 1937, is dedicated to Norbert von Hellingrath. See Erläuterungen zu Hölderlins Dichtung, GA Vol. 4, ed. by Friedrich-Wilhelm von Herrmann, Frankfurt: Vittorio Klostermann, 1981, p. 33.↩︎︎

12.For a closer examination of these relationships, see also Jacques D’Hondt’s Hegel secret : recherches sur les sources cachées de la pensée de Hegel (Paris: Presses Universitaires de France, 1968, specifically the first chapter of the third part: “Éleusis“). ↩︎︎

13.In German, one can refer to Wolfgang Schieder’s 74-page study tracing the origin of the German word “Kommunismus.” See Geschichtliche Grundbegriffe. Historisches Lexikon zur politisch-sozialen Sprache in Deutschland, Volume 3, Stuttgrart: Klett-Cotta, [1982] 2004, pp. 455-529. The CdG fragment however is not mentioned in this document. ↩︎︎

14. In his essay from 1989, while D’Hondt does not refer to Grandjonc’s two-volume study (published the same year), he does refer to a much shorter analysis published by Grandjonc in 1983 (where the CdG fragment is not mentioned): Quelques dates à propos des termes communiste et communisme in Mots, Issue no. 7, October 1983, pp. 143-148. ↩︎︎

15. Letter to Casimir Ulrich Böhlendorff, December 4, 1801. Sämtliche Werke (Grosse Stuttgarter Ausgabe), ed. Friedrich Beissner, Adolf Beck, Ute Oelmann, Volume 6, Part 1 “Briefe,” ed. Adolf Beck, Stuttgart: W. Kohlhammer, 1954, Item no. 236, p. 426. ↩︎︎

16.Friedensfeier,” in Sämtliche Werke (Grosse Stuttgarter Ausgabe), ed. Friedrich Beissner, Adolf Beck, Ute Oelmann, Volume 3, “Hyperion,” ed. Friedrich Beissner, Stuttgart: W. Kohlhammer, 1957, p. 536, line 92. The discovery and publication of “Friedensfeier” in 1954 is surrounded in controversy: see P.H. Gaskill’s “The ‘Fürst des Fests’” in Hölderlin’s ‘Friedensfeier’” (The Modern Language Review, Vol. 65, No. 1, Jan., 1970, pp. 94-115); David Constantine’s Hölderlin (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1988, pp. 246-250); Jean-Pierre Lefebvre’s Guerre et paix autour de Friedensfeier” (Études Germaniques, Vol. 2, No. 262, 2011, pp. 239-263). ↩︎︎

• • •

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Hölderlin, Blanchot, Mascolo: La vie de l’esprit entre amis https://aphelis.net/holderlin-blanchot-mascolo/ Wed, 30 Mar 2022 14:09:46 +0000 https://aphelis.net/?p=17724 La vie de l’esprit entre amis, la pensée qui se forme dans l’échange de parole par écrit et de vive voix, sont nécessaires à ceux qui cherchent. Hors cela, nous sommes pour nous-mêmes sans pensée. Penser appartient à la figure sacrée qu’ensemble nous figurons. ☛ Comité, No. 1, October 1968, p. 31. A facsimile of […]

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La vie de l’esprit entre amis, la pensée qui se forme dans l’échange de parole par écrit et de vive voix, sont nécessaires à ceux qui cherchent. Hors cela, nous sommes pour nous-mêmes sans pensée. Penser appartient à la figure sacrée qu’ensemble nous figurons.

Comité, No. 1, October 1968, p. 31. A facsimile of the entire issue is available via the archives of Georges Sebbag website: “Comité numéro 1 – Octobre 1968”

Facsimile of a quotation by Hölderlin as it appears in Comité No. 1 October 1968. The quotation reads: “La vie de l’esprit entre amis, la pensée qui se forme dans l’échange de parole par écrit et de vive voix, sont nécessaires à ceux qui cherchent. Hors cela, nous sommes pour nous-mêmes sans pensée. Penser appartient à la figure sacrée qu’ensemble nous figurons.”
Reproduction of the bottom section of page 31, in Comité No. 1, October 1968.

The objective of this bibliographic note is not to discuss the very rich context (historical, cultural, social) in which the first issue of the short live journal (or “bulletin”) Comité came to be (following the events of May 1968, in France), but rather to document this single quotation, attributed to Friedrich Hölderlin. In the issue of Comité from October 1968, it is presented as shown above, only with the name “Hölderlin.” It belongs to a group of quotations –over a dozen– appearing throughout the issue alongside the main essays (a form of paratext, perhaps, as defined by Gérard Genette).

The motivation for this note is two-fold. First, the quotation played a significant role in Dionys Mascolo’s intellectual trajectory (see here: Dionys Mascolo: An annotated Bibliography), and will turn out to be influential for others as well (for Maurice Blanchot, but also for Gilles Deleuze). Second, although this importance is recognized, the quotation itself –aside from two recent exceptions– is never properly referenced. While it is usually attributed to Hölderlin –as it was already the case in Comité No. 1, in 1968– the source itself is not mentioned, or the quotation is presented as being without explicit reference, or again, as in Gregg Lambert’s book Philosophy After Friendship. Deleuze’s Conceptual Personae, its origin is presented as a mystery:

The full quotation is as follows: “Without the spirit of friendship, [the thoughts that form in the exchange of words, by writing or in person. Without that,] we are, by our own hands, outside thought.” However, the source of this quote remains a mystery, since I cannot find it in Hölderlin’s hymns. Mascolo himself acknowledges that it comes from a translation of one of Hölderlin’s poems, most likely “As When on a Holiday,” that reportedly Blanchot had translated and then published anonymously in the journal Comité in October 1968, perhaps in commemoration of the events of May ’68. (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2017, p. 167, note 10)

The comment is problematic on two fronts. First, because the source of the quote was documented at least since 2011, in an essay by Leslie Hill (see below). Second, because in the aforementioned essay, Hill informs his readers that Mascolo was fully aware of the origin of the quote (again, see below). However, we indeed know –at least since 1998– that Mascolo had confirmed the quotation used in Comité had been translated by Maurice Blanchot. He had mentionned it in a letter he wrote to Gilles Deleuze on September 28, 1988:

I have called this communism of thought in the past. And I placed it under the auspices of Hölderlin, who may have only fled thought because he was unable to live it: “The life of the spirit between friends, the thoughts that form in the exchange of words, by writing or in person, are necessary to those who seek. Without that, we are by our own hands outside thought.” (I would like to add that Mr. [sic] Blanchot did this translation and it was published anonymously in Comité, in October 1968). (Letter by Dionys Mascolo to Gilles Deleuze, September 28, 1988; in Two Regimes of Madness. Texts and Interviews 1975-1995, trans. Ames Hodges and Mike Taormina, New York: Semiotext(e), 2007, p. 331)

Below is the original version published in French, in 1998, in an issue of Lignes, where this correspondence between Mascolo and Deleuze was first made public:

Il m’est arrivé d’appeler cela communisme de pensée. Et de le placer sous le signe de Hölderlin, qui n’a peut-être fui hors pensée que pour n’être pas parvenu à la vivre: «La vie de l’esprit entre amis, la pensée qui se forme dans l’échange de parole, par écrit ou de vive-voix, sont nécessaires à ceux qui cherchent. Hors cela, nous sommes par nous-mêmes hors pensée.» (cette traduction, je tiens à vous le dire, est due à M. Blanchot, et a été publiée anonymement dans Comité, en octobre 68). (Lignes, Issue No. 33, 1998, p. 225; available online)

Also worth noting is how the content of this first issue of Comité was largely determined by Dionys Mascolo and Maurice Blanchot. Furthermore, in his essay “The Joy of Uprising and the Fear of the State: On Blanchot’s Insurrectional Writings (1968-1969),” Jean-François Hamel notes:

Blanchot’s archives at the Houghton Library of Harvard University contain an important file dedicated to the preparation of the bulletin, which reveals that it was Blanchot himself who chose most of citations reproduced in Comité (Hölderlin, Baudelaire, Marx, Lenin, Trotsky, Mao, etc.). (SubStance, Vol. 50, No. 2, 2021, Issue 155, p. 58, note 7)

Supporting this argument is the document reproduced below, which can be found in Écrits politiques: 1953–1993 (ed. Éric Hoppenot, Paris: Gallimard, 2008, p. 256). It is a facsimile of the table of content for the first issue of Comité, with handwritten additions by Blanchot. The word “Hölderlin” written by Blanchot at the bottom of the page indicates the position where the quote was inserted (below the short text “Lire Marx”). This facsimile is not reproduced in Political Writings, 1953-1993 (Fordham University Press, 2010).

Image of a facsimile of the table of content of Comité No. 1 (October 1968) annotated by Maurice Blanchot
Facsimile of the table of content for the first issue of Comité, October 1968. Reproduced in Écrits politiques: 1953–1993, ed. Éric Hoppenot, Paris: Gallimard, 2008, p. 256

As it will soon appear, the translation Blanchot offers is unique and takes some liberty with the original German text. This alone could partly explain how tracking back its source was made more difficult. Blanchot knew German very well, allowing him to read texts in their original form, and to translate them (see L’Herne Blanchot, Paris: Édition de l’Herne, pp. 34 ff.). An anecdote documented by Georges Bataille further suggests that Martin Heidegger was not only aware of Blanchot’s work on Hölderlin, but impressed by it1.

This is where a special mention should be made of Leslie Hill’s 2011 essay “‘A Fine Madness’: Translation, Quotation, the Fragmentary” (in Blanchot Romantique. A Collection of Essays eds. John McKeane and Hannes Opelz, New York: Peter Land, 2011, pp. 211-231). This is one of the exception mentioned earlier2, and it offers the most extensive discussion to date of the quotation by Hölderlin translated by Blanchot, which Hill’s describes as a “remarkable instance of rewriting” (Ibid.: 222). Along with a detailed comparative breakdown of Blanchot’s translation with the original German text (see specifically p. 224), Hill also provides his reader with an excerpt from a correspondence he had with Mascolo. In a letter addressed to Hill, dated from April 18, 1994, Mascolo shows he knows very well where the quotation originated:

Il peut vous intéresser de savoir que la traduction de l’admirable poésie de Hölderlin, à l’avant-dernière page du bulletin – pensée extraite de la lettre de H. à Böhlendorff (automne 1802) – cette traduction, donc, est de Blanchot (Ibid.: 222 n13)

Thus, the mysterious quotation is actually the concluding paragraph of a well-known letter written by Hölderlin to his friend, the German writer, poet and historian Casimir Ulrich Boehlendorff (alternate spelling: Böhlendorff), in late fall of 1802, while in Nürtingen (sometimes dated from December 2, 1802, sometimes from November: see below). This is the second of two letters Hölderlin sent to Boehlendorff, the first one being dated from December 1801. In the Große Stuttgarter Ausgabe (GSA) edition of Hölderlin’s complete work (Sämtliche Werke), it is reproduced in Volume 6.1 “Briefe: Text,” under the section “Stuttgart Hauptwil Nürtingen Bordeaux 1800 – 1804,” as Item No. 240 (Stuttgart: W. Kohlhammer Verlag, 1954, pp. 432-433, where the letter is not dated; available online). The specific part translated and quoted by Blanchot in Comité No. 1 appears on page 433, lines 53-57:

Image of the last paragraph of Hölderlin’s second letter (in German) to Boehlendorff (also spelled Böhlendorff), as it appears in the <em>Große Stuttgarter Ausgabe</em>, Volume 6.1 (Stuttgart: W. Kohlhammer Verlag, 1954, p. 433)
Last paragraph of Hölderlin’s second letter to Boehlendorff, as it appears in the Große Stuttgarter Ausgabe, Volume 6.1 (Stuttgart: W. Kohlhammer Verlag, 1954, p. 433)

Schreibe doch nur mir bald. Ich brauche Deine reinen Töne. Die Psyche unter Freunden, das Entstehen des Gedankens im Gespräch und Brief ist Künstlern nöthig. Sonst haben wir keinen für uns selbst; sondern er gehöret dem heiligen Bilde, das wir bilden.

English translations of the letter can be found in various editions. In Essays and Letters on Theory from 1988:

If you would just write to me soon. I need your pure tone. The psyche among friends, the origination of thoughts in conversation and correspondence is necessary for artists. Otherwise we have nobody for ourselves, but he belongs to the sacred image which we produce. (trans. Thomas Pfau, Albany: State University of New York Press, 1988, pp. 152-153, not dated)

In Essays and Letters from 2009 (publisher website):

Make sure you write to me soon. I need your pure tones. Psyche among friends, the formation of thoughts in conversations and letters, is vital for artists. Otherwise we have none for ourselves; but they belong to the holy image we are shaping. (trans. Jeremy Adler and Charlie Louth, New York: Penguin Books, 2009, Item No. 110, pp. 213-215, also dated from November 1802; along with a contextual commentary)

In Selected Poems and Letters from 2019:

But write soon. I need your clear tones. Psyche among friends, and growth of thought in conversation and letter is needed by artists. Otherwise we have no thought for ourselves; but it belongs to the holy image which we are shaping. (trans. Christopher Middleton, Amsterdam: The Last Books, 2019, pp. 182-184, where it is dated from November 1802; along with a short contextual commentary)

In French, the letter can aso be found in a number of editions, including Correspondance complète (trans. Denise Naville, Paris: Gallimard, 1948, pp. 311-312: PDF; this translation is referenced by Leslie Hill in the essay mentioned above), Remarques sur Oedipe. Remarques sur Antigone (trans. François Fédier, Paris: Union générale d’édition, coll. “10/18,” 1965, pp. 104-109: PDF), as well as in Fragments de poétique et autres textes (bilingual edition, trans. Jean-François Courtine, Paris: Imprimerie nationale Éditions, 2006, pp. 365-372). In Oeuvres, from 1967, the translation by Denise Naville (slightly different than her 1948 translation) also contrasts with the one proposed by Blanchot:

La Psyché entre amis, la naissance de la pensée dans la conversation et la correspondance est nécessaire aux artistes. Autrement, nous n’avons aucune pensée pour nous-mêmes ; elle appartient à l’image sacrée que nous formons. (trans. Denise Naville, Paris: Gallimard, coll. Pléiade, 1967, pp. 1009-1011: PDF).

Hölderlin’s second letter to Boehlendorff was also included in Walter Benjamin’s collection Deutsche Menschen. Eine Folge von Briefen (Lucerne: Vita Nova, 1936; digital copy hosted by Internet Archive, see specifically p. 45; this time the letter is dated from December 2, 1802). This collection, published under the pseudonyme “Detlef Holz” while Benjamin was still alive, includes 27 letters written by German writers between 1783 and 1883, along with comments by Benjamin. This collection was later included in the Walter Benjamin Gesammelte Schriften, Vol. IV, Frankfurt am Main: Suhrkamp, 1991 (where the letter appears on pp. 171-173; see Wikisource for details). In the Selected Writings volumes, the letter to Boehlendorff (dated from December 2, 1802), along with Benjamin’s commentary (and the critical apparatus of this edition), appears in Volume 3 (1935-1938), on pages 180-182 (trans. Edmund Jephcott, Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2002). Here’s how part of Benjamin’s commentary accompanying the letter reads:

Among Hölderlin’s letters from the early nineteenth century, there is hardly one which does not contain phrases fully comparable to the lasting formulations in his poems. Yet their anthology value is not their greatest merit. This lies, rather, in their unique transparency, thanks to which these plain, devoted letters give us a view of the interior of Hölderlin’s workshop. The “poet’s workshop” —seldom more than a cliche— is here restored to its true meaning: in those years there was no linguistic act, not even daily correspondence, that Hölderlin did not perform with the masterly precision of his late poetry. The tension which this gives to his occasional writings makes even some of his most unremarkable business letters, not to speak of the letters to those close to him, documents as extraordinary as the following to Böhlendorf. (Ibid.: 180)

More important yet is how Hölderlin’s 1802 letter to Boehlendorff is included in full, and extensively discussed by Martin Heidegger in a conference titled “Hölderlins Earth and Heaven” (“Hölderlings Erde und Himmel”), a commentary on a draft of the poem entitled “Griechenland,” first delivered at the meetings of the Hölderlin Society in Munich on June 6, 1959, and later included in the Gesamtausgabe (GA) Volume 4. The volume titled Erläuterungen zu Hölderlins Dichtung gathers materials written between 1936 and 1968 (ed. by Friedrich-Wilhelm von Herrmann, Frankfurt am Main: Vittorio Klostermann, 1981, see specifically pp. 157 ff.; for reference).

In the English edition Elucidations of Hölderlin’s Poetry, the letter can be found on pages 182-184. In Keith Hoeller’s translation, the quotation under discussion reads as follow:

Please write to me soon. I need your pure tones. The Psyche among friends, the genesis of thought through conversation and letters is necessary to artists. Otherwise we have none for ourselves; but it belongs to the holy image we are forming. (New York: Humanity Books, 2000, p. 184)

Regarding the letter itself, Heidegger notes “We would need many days and favorable hours to reflect on this letter in an appropriate manner.” (Ibid.). Heidegger provides the letter with a substantial note, which similarly to Benjamin’s comment, also highlights its importance. The beginning of the note reads as follow:

Many of you are informed about how this letter, and especially the one written a year earlier to the same friend immediately before his journey to southern France, are cited in connection with the discussion of what has been named Hölderlin’s “occidental turn,” and what Hölderlin himself, although with a different meaning, considers under the title “the patriotic reversal.” We must, of course, hear Hölderlin’s discourse on the “patriotic” and the “national” according to the meaning of his thought, which means that we must free it from our current narrow representations. (Ibid.: p. 206)

In the French edition titled Approches de Hölderlin, the conference “Terre et ciel de Hölderlin” is translated by François Fédier. Here is again the relevant quotation:

Écris-moi donc bien vite. Il me faut tes pures intonations. La psychè entre amis, comment la pensée vient à être dans le dialogue et la lettre, est nécessaire aux artistes. Autrement, nous n’en ayons aucune pour nous-mêmes; au contraire, elle appartient à la constellation sacrée que nous formons. (Paris: Gallimard, 1973, p. 205)

To complement this bibliographic note, listed below are known references where Mascolo explicitly mentions, or alludes to Hölderlin’s quotation (see the annotated bibliography to track reeditions):

  • 1985. In “Aux heures d’un communisme de pensée” (L’Autre journal, Issue No. 9, November)
  • 1988. In a letter to Gilles Deleuze, dated from September 28, 1988. First published in Lignes, Issue No. 33, 1998, p. 225; available online
  • 1990. In “Sur les effets d’une approches rétrospective” (preface for the reedition of the three issues of Le 14 Juillet)
  • 1993. The quotation is used as the epigraph for the collection À la recherche d’un communisme de pensée: entêtements (Paris: Fourbis, p. 17).
  • 1993. In Haine de la philosophie : Heidegger pour modèle, Paris: Jean-Michel Place, p. 154
  • 1994. In “Autour de la rue Saint-Benoît: An Interview with Dionys Mascolo,” interview by Jane Bradley Winston, Contemporary French Civilization, Vol. 18, Issue No. 2, p. 199.

• • •

1. In December 1946, in Issue No. 7 of the French journal Critique (cover; table of content), Blanchot published an essay titled “La parole «sacrée» de Hölderlin” (pp. 579-596), later included in La part du feu (Paris: Gallimard, 1949, pp. 118-136). This essay was written in reaction to the translation into French of an address by Heidegger entirely dedicated to Hölderlin’s fragmentary “As When on a Holiday…” (“Wie wenn am Feiertage” see Große Stuttgarter Ausgabe, 2.1, p. 118), first delivered in 1939, and later included in Erläuterungen zu Hölderlins Dichtung (GA 4, see above for details). For the anecdote —where Heidegger wanted to praise Blanchot but got him confused with Bataille—, see again L’Herne Blanchot, pp. 109 ff., as well as Leslie Hill’s Maurice Blanchot and Fragmentary Writing: A Change of Epoch (New York: Bloomsbury, 2012, p. 104).↩︎︎

2. The other exception is a thesis by Luis Felipe Alarcón: La leçon du silence : littérature et relation sociale chez Maurice Blanchot. Philosophie. Université Paris sciences et lettres, 2019. See specifically pages 289-290, where the quotation is properly referenced, and Blanchot’s “rather extravagant” translation is discussed (without reference to Leslie Hill’s analysis of the same quotation).↩︎︎

• • •

Black and white image of a portrait of German poet Friedrich Hölderlin
Portrait of Friedrich Hölderlin by Franz Karl Hiemer, c. 1792. Collection Marbach am Neckar, Schiller National Museum. Permalink.

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Dionys Mascolo: An Annotated Bibliography https://aphelis.net/dionys-mascolo-annotated-bibliography/ Thu, 10 Mar 2022 21:52:56 +0000 https://aphelis.net/?p=17632 To go along the recent release of La révolution par l’amitié, a collection of essays by Dionys Mascolo assembled by French publisher La Fabrique (see below), this entry offers an annotated bibliography of books and collections of essays by Dionys Mascolo. One of the main function of this annotated bibliography is to ease the identification […]

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Dionys Mascolo: Annotated Bibliography

To go along the recent release of La révolution par l’amitié, a collection of essays by Dionys Mascolo assembled by French publisher La Fabrique (see below), this entry offers an annotated bibliography of books and collections of essays by Dionys Mascolo. One of the main function of this annotated bibliography is to ease the identification of various reeditions, and to track essays published in different journals and later republished in a number of collections.

This is a work in progress. The entry will be updated as information is being gathered. For ease of navigation, here are the main parts currently available:

Updated: 2022.08.17

• • •

Main Bibliography

  • 1946. “Si la lecture de Saint-Just est possible” in Oeuvres de Saint-Just, by Louis-Antoine-Léon Saint-Just, Paris: Editions de la Cité universelle, pp. 9-54. This text signed “Jean Gratien” (a pseudonyme of Dionys Mascolo) serves as the introduction for this collection of essays by Saint-Just. It will be republished on a number of occasions.

    • A digital facsimilar of the entire book is available via the Bibliothèque nationale de France: Gallica. The introduction runs from page 9 to page 54.
    • – – – 1968. Republished as Oeuvres choisies (Paris: Gallimard, series Idées No. 159, 383 pp.) This version was revised and shorten by Dionys Mascolo, and comes with a new foreword by him. Cover: JPEG-1, JPEG-2.
    • – – – 1993. The 1968 version (along with the new foreword) was republished as part of À la recherche d’un communisme de pensée: entêtements, Paris: Fourbis, pp. 19-59 (see below)
    • – – – 2022. The 1968 version (along with the new foreword) was republished as part of La révolution par l’amitié, Paris: La Fabrique, pp. 114-160.
  • 1947. “Une interview d’Elio Vittorini,” by Jean Gratien (pseudonyme of Dionys Mascolo) and Edgar Morin Les Lettres françaises Issue No. 162, Friday June 27, pp. 1, 7.

    • A digital facsimilar of the entire issue is available via the Bibliothèque nationale de France: Gallica. A transcription was made available by the online journal Entêtement.
  • 1953. Le Communisme. Révolution et communication ou la dialectique des valeurs et des besoins, Paris: Gallimard.

    • A preview of the first 86 pages is available via the Bibliothèque nationale de France: Gallica.
    • – – – 2018. Republished by Nouvelles éditions Lignes (Paris), with a postface by Michel Surya
    • – – – 2020. Republished as a digital facsimile by FeniXX
  • 1957. Lettre polonaise : sur la misère intellectuelle en France, Paris: Les Éditions de Minuit.

    • A preview of the first 16 pages is available via the Bibliothèque nationale de France: Gallica.
    • – – – 1993. Republished as part of À la recherche d’un communisme de pensée: entêtements, Paris: Fourbis, pp. 65-122 (see below)
    • – – – 2018. Republished as a digital facsimile by FeniXX
  • 1971. Du rôle de l’intellectuel dans le mouvement révolutionnaire by Jean-Paul Sartre, Bernard Pingaud and Dionys Mascolo, Paris: Éric Losfeld.

    • Mascolo’s essay titled “Contre les idéologie de la mauvais conscience” was republished on a number of occasions: see below for more information
  • 1987. Autour d’un effort de mémoire : sur une lettre de Robert Antelme, Paris: Maurice Nadeau.

    • – – – 2005. Translated into Spanish as En torno a un esfuerzo de memoria. Sobre una carta de Robert Antelme, trans. Isidro Herrera, Madrid: Arena Libros.
  • 1990. “Un itinéraire politique,” interview with Aliette Armel, Magazine littéraire, Issue No. 278, June 1990, pp. 36-40. PDF.

  • 1990. “Dossier de la « Revue internationale »: correspondances” (letters dated between 1961 and 1965 sent to and received from Richard Seaver, Hans Magnus Enzensberger, Iris Murdoch, Uwe Johnson, Maurice Blanchot, Michel Butor, M. Leszek Kolakowski, Francesco Leonetti, Elia Vittorini), Lignes Issue No. 11, Vol. 3, Paris, pp. 217-301. Available online.

  • 1993. De l’amour, Paris: URDLA, 65 pp., with a preface by Edgar Morin.

    • – – – 1999. Republished by publisher Benoît Jacob, Paris, 76 pp., publisher website.
    • – – – 2012. Translated into Turkish as Aşk Üstüne, Monokl publisher.
  • 1993. Haine de la philosophie : Heidegger pour modèle, Paris: Jean-Michel Place

    • – – – About two third of the book were previously published in 1992, in issues No. 15 & 16 of Lignes: “Bassesse et profondeur,” Lignes, Issue No. 15, pp. 141-174 (available online); “Bassesse et profondeur, II” Lignes, Issue No. 16, pp. 117-158 (available online)
  • 1993. À la recherche d’un communisme de pensée: entêtements (hereafter ARCP), Paris: Fourbis. See below for the full table of content.

    • A preview of the first 74 pages is available via the Bibliothèque nationale de France: Gallica.
    • – – – 2016. Republished as a digital facsimile by FeniXX
  • 1994. “Autour de la rue Saint-Benoît: An Interview with Dionys Mascolo,” interview by Jane Bradley Winston, Contemporary French Civilization, Vol. 18, Issue No. 2, pp. 188–207, DOI.

  • 1996. Textes inédit sur L’espèce humaine. Essais et témoignages by Robert Antelme (Daniel Dobbels ed.), Paris: Gallimard. See specifically pp. 252-272 for Mascolo’s contribution (interview).

    • – – – 1994. The book above was born out of a special issue of Lignes, Issue No. 21, Vol. 1, Paris: Édition Hazan. The same interview with Mascolo can be found on pp. 175-202.
    • – – – 2003. On Robert Antelme’s The Human Race. Essays and Commentary, trans. by Jeffrey Haight, Nortwestern University, 2003 (publisher website)
  • 1998. “Avec Dionys Mascolo”, Lignes Issue No. 33, Vol. 1, Paris: Édition Hazan. Available online. See below for the full table of content.

  • 2004. Entêtements, Paris: Benoît Jacob, 252 pp. (publisher website). See below for the full table of content.

  • 2011. “Lettre de Dionys Mascolo à Philippe Lacoue-Labarthe du 27 juillet 1984,” in Maurice Blanchot. Passion politique, Jean-Luc Nancy, Paris, Galilée, 2011, pp. 63-71.

    • – – – 2015. Translated into German as Maurice Blanchot – Politische Passion, trans. Jonas Hock, Berlin: Turia + Kant.
  • 2011. Sur le sens et l’usage du mot «gauche», Paris: Nouvelles éditions Lignes (publisher website).

    • This short book contains two essays: “Sur le sens et l’usage du mot ‘gauche’” and “Contre les idéologies de mauvaise conscience”. The former was first published in a double issue of Les Temps modernes (Gallimard, Issues No. 112-113, May 1st, 1955). For the latter, see the annotated table of content for ARCP, below.
    • – – – 1998. “Sur le sens et l’usage du mot ‘gauche’” was republished in Lignes, Issue No. 33, pp. 47-62 (with slight modifications by Mascolo).
    • – – – 2022. Republished by Nouvelles éditions Lignes (Paris), with a postface by Alphonse Clarou (publisher website).
  • 2016. Le coup de tête [novel], with accompanying art by Gilgian Gelzer and a postface by Jérôme Duwa, Rigny: Éditions du Chemin de Fer (publisher website).

  • 2022. La révolution par l’amitié, Paris: La Fabrique. See below for the full table of content.

    • A preview of the first 4 pages (the table of content along with a presentation note) is available via the publisher website.

• • •

À la recherche d’un communisme de pensée: entêtements (1993)

Cover for the book À la recherche d'un communisme de pensée: entêtements by Dionys Mascolo (1993)
Cover for À la recherche d’un communisme de pensée: entêtements , Paris: Fourbis, 1993.

Table of Content: PDF – This collection from 1993 is currently the most important one in existence. Running 454 pages, it offers some 44 essays, along with a short “pre-text” (or introduction) signed by Maurice Blanchot. Many of these essays had been previously published, and were subsequently republished, after 1993. For instance, the new collection La révolution par l’amitié (see below) offers many of the essays previously collected in À la recherche d’un communisme de pensée: entêtements (hereafter ARCP).

What follows is the full table of content, annotated. The context of origin for each item is provided, largely based on the presentation notes available in the collection, although sometimes complemented with additional information I could find. When possible, I also indicates when a given item was subsequently republished, although this is by no means an exhaustive recension.

  • Pré-texte Pour l’amitié par Maurice Blanchot (pp. 5-16)

    • This is a short essay written by Maurice Blanchot to serve as a “pre-text” or introduction to Mascolo’s collection of essays.
      • – – – 2000. Republished as a separate book by French publisher Farrago (Tours). 40 pp.
  • Si la lecture de Saint-Just est possible (pp. 19-59)

    • This text was written as an introduction to a collection of texts by French revolutionary Louis Antoine Léon de Saint-Just titled Oeuvres choisie and published by Éditions de la Cité in April of 1946. The introduction was published under the pseudonyme Jean Gratien (pp. 9-54: see Gallica for a digital reproduction). This text was later republished on a number of occasions:

      • – – – 1968. Reedited as Oeuvres choisie (Paris: Gallimard, series Idées No. 159, 383 pp., publisher website, cover: JPEG-1, JPEG-2). This version was revised and shorten by Dionys Mascolo, and comes with a new foreword by him. It is this modified version that appears in ARCP.
      • – – – 2022. The 1968 version was republished (along with the new foreword) as part of the collection La révolution par l’amitié (Paris: La Fabrique, pp. 114-160)
  • Intellectuel et gouverneur (pp. 60-65)

    • A note signals this was first published in Les Lettres Nouvelles, issue of January-February 1956. That would be issue No. 34. Eslewhere, a page range is provided: pp. 147-150. An examination of the cover [JPEG] of issue No. 34 from 1956 suggests that either another essay was published in this specific issue, or that the same essay was published with a different title («Le monde, comme il va»).

  • Lettre polonaise sur la misère intellectuelle en France (pp. 65-122)

    • I. En Pologne pp. 65-76
    • II. Ce que la Pologne donne envie de dire de la France aux Polonais pp. 77-89
    • III. Ce que la Pologne donne envie de dire de la France aux Français pp. 89-120
    • VI. Conclusion pp. 120-122
    • These were first published as single book in 1957 (Paris: Minuits, 96 pp.) A preview of the first 11 pages is available via the Bibliothèque nationale de France: Gallica (alternate link). The essays were written following a travel Mascolo did in Poland, in January 1957, along with three close friends: Robert Antelme, Claude Lefort and Edgar Morin. The travel took place in the aftermath of both the Hungarian Revolution of 1956, and the “Polish October” of the same year.

      Aside for their reproduction in ARCP, these essays were also republished:

      • – – – 2004. As part of the collection Entêtements (Paris: Benoît Jacob, pp. 7-78)
  • Du jeu, de l’Érotisme (pp. 123-131)

    • The accompanying note indicates this essay was first published in L’Observateur (France Observateur), April 1958. However, a number of different sources all indicate it was published in issue 406, February 20, 1958, pp. 16-17. Used copies can still be found for purchase online. The motivation for the essay was the recent publication of two important book: L’Érotisme by Georges Bataille (Minuit, 1957) and Les Jeux et les Hommes by Roger Caillois (Gallimard, 1958).
  • La pensée anticipatrice (pp. 133-138)

    • First published in the journal Arguments No. 9, September 1958 [cover – JPEG]. The text was Mascolo’s answer to a survey on the topic of “anticipation”: the future of human kind and the world. Aside for its reproduction in ARCP, this essay was also republished:

  • Zazie ou la philosophie dans le métro (pp. 139-146)

    • First published in France Observateur,Paris, Vol. 10, No. 458, February 12 1959, p. 24 (for reference). This essay is about Raymond Quenneau’s novel Zazie dans le Métro, published in 1959 (Paris: Gallimard).

  • Trois texte publiés dans Le 14 Juillet (pp. 147-176)

    • I. Refus inconditionnel (pp. 147-149)
    • II. La part irréductible (pp. 150-165)
    • III. Sur le pouvoir temporel de l’intelligence (pp. 165-176)
    • These essays were published in the anti-Gaullist journal Le 14 Juillet, founded by Dionys Mascolo and Jean Schuster. It would run for three issues between July 14, 1958 (issue No. 1) and June 18, 1959 (issue No. 3). Additional information (including a list of the content) can be found at revue-litteraires.com. Cover of issue No. 3: JPEG.

      Aside for their reproduction in ARCP, these essays were also republished:

      • – – – 1990. As a facsimile of the originals (Paris: Lignes/Séguier; for reference; archive). The reedition was presented by Daniel Dobbels, Francis Marmande, and Michel Surya, while Diony Mascolo and Jean Schuster wrote a new preface (see below: “Sur les effets d’une approches rétrospective”).
      • – – – 2004. As part of the collection Entêtements (Paris: Benoît Jacob, pp. 79-116)
      • – – – 2022. As part of the collection La révolution par l’amitié (Paris: La Fabrique, pp. 27-61)
  • Sur deux amis morts (pp. 177-186)

    • First published in a special issue of La Nouvelle Revue Française published in hommage to Albert Camus (Issue No. 87, March 1st, 1960, pp. 451-460; digital reproductions are available online; cover, excerpt: PDF). Camus had died in a car accident just a few weeks earlier, on January 4th, 1960. Michel Gallimard, who was driving the car, died a few days later on January 9, 1960. They are the “two friends” in the title of the essay. Aside for its reproduction in ARCP, this essay was also republished:

      • – – – 1967. Gallimard republished the special issue from 1960 as a book, where Mascolo’s essay can be found on pp. 57-66.
  • Quatre textes destinés à la Revue Internationale (pp. 188-200)

    • I. Être moderne (pp. 187-190)
    • II. Fragment d’utopie (pp. 190-196). Written in 1962, first published in French in October of 1967, in issue No. 2 of the surrealist journal L’Archibras (Paris: Le Terrain Vague; also contains an interview with Margueritte Duras; cover: JPEG)
    • III. Interdit à la loi (pp. 196-198)
    • VI. Rapprochement franco-allemand? (pp. 199-200)
    • These essays were all written between 1960 and 1963 for the Revue International project, which failed to concretize. They were never published in French –with the exception of “Fragment d’Utopie,” as indicated above– and appeared in the 1993 collection for the first time. All three were supposed to be part of a rubric titled “Le cours des choses.” More information about the Revue Internationale project can be found Lignes, Vol. 3, Issue 11 (1990), entirely dedicated to the topic.

  • Effrayante liberté (pp. 201-204)

    • First published in Nouvel Observateur (March 16, 1966, p. 38; facsimile: PDF). The text was Mascolo’s reaction to a complaint a reader shared with the editors that Sade was being cited too often.

  • Hommage à Maurice Blanchot (pp. 205-210)

    • First published in La Quinzaine Littéraire, Issue No. 12, September 15-30, 1966, p. 27 (cover). The essay is a comment on a recently published issue of Critique entirely dedicated to Maurice Blanchot (Issue 229, June 1966; this issue was republished in 1997).

      At the time of writing, Librairie Faustroll is selling a 3-page manuscript letter addressed to Maurice Nadeau and dated from October 2, 1966. Among other things, the letter discusses the essay Mascolo had written for La Quinzaine Littéraire. Aside for its reproduction in ARCP, this essay was also republished:

      • – – – 2004. As part of the collection Entêtements (Paris: Benoît Jacob, pp. 225-233)
  • Le Surréalisme, demain (pp. 211-216)

    • First published in La Quinzaine Littéraire, Issue 14, October 15-31, 1966, p. 17 (PDF). The entire issue is available online.

      • – – – 1967. A note (specifically footnote 23) in the “Introduction” to issue 31 of the journal COnTEXTES. Revue de sociologie de la littérature published in 2021 suggests that a selection from the essay was republished in the surrealist journal L’Archibras (Issue No. 1, April 1967, p. 25).
      • – – – 2004. Republished as part of the collection Entêtements (Paris: Benoît Jacob, pp. 203-201)
  • Pour saluer André Breton (pp. 217-220)

    • Text written for a 94-minute radio episode titled “Pour saluer André Breton” originally broadcasted by France Culture on October 19, 1966. The episode was created under the supervision of Jean Schuster and Maurice Nadeau. Only the first part was read by Mascolo at the time. The second part was published for the first time in this collection. The episode can be found on Radio France.

  • Nietzsche, l’esprit moderne et l’Antéchrist (pp. 221-264)

    • Written as a preface for a French edition of Friedrich Nietzsche’s Der Antichrist, translated by Robert Rovini and published by French publisher J.J. Pauvert in May 1967 (in the series Liberté, curated by Jean-François Revel). Cover: JPEG; more images. Aside for its reproduction in ARCP, this essay was also republished:

      • – – – 2000. The same preface was published as a standalone book Nietzsche, l’esprit moderne et l’Antéchrist (Tours: Farrago, 64pp.; cover: JPEG; Google Books).
      • – – – 2002. As a preface to another French reedition of Nietzsche’s L’Antéchrist (Paris: Benoît Jacob; publisher website, cover: JPEG)
      • – – – 2022. As part of the collection La révolution par l’amitié (Paris: La Fabrique, pp. 62-113)
  • Cuba premier territoire libre du socialisme (pp. 265-297)

    • First published in Lettres Nouvelles, in a special issue directed by Maurice Nadeau and dedicated to Cuban writers (“Écrivains de Cuba”), Dec. 1967 – Jan. 1968. Cover: JPEG.

      • – – – 1967. The essay published in Lettres Nouvelles includes a speech Mascolo made while in Cuba for the Salón de Mayo, on July 26-28, 1967, titled “Révolution, ombre ou lumière” (in ARCP, pp. 267-269). This speech was translated into Spanich and published as “La revolución: sombra o luz,” in Catalogue Salón de Mayo, Pabellón Cuba, La Habana, Talleres de Granma, July 1967. Facsimile: PDF.
  • Sept textes publiés dans le No. 1 de Comité (pp. 299-318)

    • I. Le pouvoir de la rue (pp. 299-300)
    • II. Une illusion très générale (pp. 301-303)
    • III. Les « deux mille mots » (pp. 304-305)
    • IV. Juillet-Mai (pp. 306-308)
    • V. Les communistes de salut (pp. 309-312)
    • VI. La Pharisienne (pp. 312-314)
    • VII. La théorie, force matérielle (pp. 314-318)
    • These seven essays were published anonymously in issue No. 1 of Comité (October 1968, 32pp.), the “bulletin” of the Comité d’action étudiants-écrivains, to which Mascolo participated. A facsimile of the entire issue is available on Georges Sebbag website. The texts reproduced here were written by Mascolo. For more contextual information see Lignes, below (pp. 133-174), where the same seven essays are also reproduced.

      • – – – 1998. “Avec Dionys Mascolo,” Lignes, Issue No. 33, Vol. 1, Paris: Édition Hazan, pp. 133-174. Available online.
  • Un mouvement révolutionnaire exemplaire (pp. 319-322)

    • First published in Le Magazine Littéraire, fall 1968. Although no more information is provided, it was likely published in issue No. 21 (September 1968, 58pp.) which has a section on Czechoslovakia (Tchécoslovaquie, in French), the topic of this essay (for reference, see revues-litteraires.com; cover: JPEG)

  • Un an après, le comité d’action écrivains-étudiants (pp. 323-364)

    • Preceeded by “Naissance d’un comité,” a short text by Marguerite Duras, submitted for the first issue of Comité but eventually rejected. It would be first published in Lettres Nouvelles, June-July 1969 (cover: JPEG). This text created a polemic within the committee and played an significant role in the recomposition it underwent in February 1969: see Georges Sebbag’s archives: “Marguerite Duras : Extraits ou Naissance d’un comité.” See also Jean-François Hamel, Nous sommes tous la pègre. Les années 68 de Blanchot, Paris: Éditions de Minuit, 2018, p. 105.
    • I. Le comité d’action, exigence révolutionnaire illimitée
    • II. Le mouvement, par-delà optimisme et pessimisme
    • III. Sur les comités d’action
    • These three texts were first published anonymously in Les Lettres Nouvelles June-July 1969 (Paris: Mercure de France, 190 pp.), along with four other texts, under the general title “Un an après, le Comité d’action écrivains-étudiants” (in the June-July issue from 1969: pp. 143-188). Aside for their reproduction in ARCP, one of these texts was republished:

      • – – – 2022. “Le mouvement, par-delà optimisme et pessimisme,” as part of the collection La révolution par l’amitié (Paris: La Fabrique, pp. 171-191)
  • Contre les idéologies de la mauvais conscience (pp. 365-372)

    • This essay was first published in La Quinzaine Littéraire Issue No. 107, Dec. 1-15, 1970, pp. 14-15 (cover: JPEG; facsimile: PDF). The essay is a reaction to an interview with Jean-Paul Sartre published in L’Idiot International in September 1970 under the title “L’Ami du peuple” (with Jean-Edern Hallier and Thomas Savignat, Issue No. 10, p. 35; republished in 1972 as part of the collection Situations VIII, Paris: Gallimard, pp. 456-476), as well as to an essay by Bernard Pingaud published in La Quinzaine Littéraire Issue No. 104, Oct. 16-31, 1970, pp. 8-9, under the title “Faut-il rééduquer les intellectuels?” (cover). The essay “Contre les idéologies de la mauvaise conscience” was republished on a number of occasions:

      • – – – 1971. Along with the essays by Sartre and Pingaud, as a book titled Du rôle de l’intellectuel dans le mouvement révolutionnaire (Eric Losfeld publisher, series Le Désordre, 50 pp.; cover: JPEG). Mascolo’s essay appears on pp. 41-50.
      • – – – 2004. As part of the collection Entêtements (Paris: Benoît Jacob, pp. 165-174)
      • – – – 2011. As part of the small book Sur le sens et l’usage du mot gauche (Paris: Lignes, pp. 41-54);
      • – – – 2022. As part of the collection La révolution par l’amitié (Paris: La Fabrique, pp. 192-200)
  • Surréalisme, morale, musique (pp. 373-381)

    • First published in La Quinzaine Littéraire, Issue 114, March 16-31, 1971, pp. 22-24 (cover; full issue).

  • Naissance de la tragédie (pp. 383-397)

    • Essay on Marguerrite Duras’s film India Song (1975) first published in La Quinzaine Littéraire, Issue 202, January 1975. Aside for its reproduction in ARCP, the essay was republished:

      • – – – 1975. As part of the collection Marguerite Duras, by Marguerite Duras et al., Paris: Albatros (a revised, second edition was published in 1979);
      • – – – 1987. Translated as “Birth of Tragedy,” as part of an English translation of the collection mentioned above: Marguerite Duras by Marguerite Duras, trans. Edith Cohen and Peter Connor, with an introduction by Joël Farges and François Barat, San Francisco: City Lights Book, 1987, pp. 134-146 (table of content: PDF).
  • Le cinéma des surréaliste (pp. 399-405)

    • Mascolo’s answer to a survey or questionnaire first published in Les Cahiers de la cinémathèque (Perpignan), Issue No. 30-31, summer-fall 1980 (216 pp.). Mascolo’s answer was published along a collection of essays on the same topic, all gathered under the title “Table ronde sur le cinéma des surréaliste” (pp. 95-114)

  • Parler de Blanchot (pp. 407-412)

    • The 1993 Fourbis edition suggests this essay was first published in La Quinzaine Littéraire, 1980. Instead, according to publisher Maurice Nadeau, the essay was first published in La Quinzaine Littéraire, Issue 341, February 1st, 1981. The essay is part of a discussion with Maurice Nadeau and Robert Antelme, about Maurice Blanchot’s L’écriture du désastre, published in the fall of 1980. The essay by Mascolo and Antelme is preceded by an introduction written by Nadeau, only a portion of which is reproduced in ARCP. Aside for its reproduction in ARCP, the essay by Mascolo was also republished:

      • – – – 2004. As part of the collection Entêtements (Paris: Benoît Jacob, pp. 235-242)
      • – – – 2014. As part of an edition of Cahiers de l’Herne dedicated to Maurice Blanchot (Paris: Édition de l’Herne, pp. 286-287).
  • Encore un effort si nous voulons pouvoir nous dire socialistes (pp. 413-417)

    • Libération, December 24-25, 1981. This intervention was triggered by the introduction of martial law in Poland, on December 13, 1981, which is brought in relation with the “Union of the Left” (Union de la gauche) ongoing in France at the time.

  • De la persistance intellectuelle (pp. 419-437)

    • First published in two parts in La Quinzaine Littéraire (Issue No. 423, September 1st, 1984, and Issue No. 424, September 16, 1984). It is a contribution to a special issue of the state of the left (La Gauche en question), itself part of a wider debate on the “silence of intellectuals” following the May 1981 elections in France.

  • Aux heures d’un communisme de pensée (pp. 439-446)

    • First published in L’Autre journal, Issue No. 9 November 1985, as an answer to questions about the Déclaration sur le droit à l’insoumission dans la guerre d’Algérie. It provides a short presentation of the context in which the Déclaration –also known as Manifeste des 121– was produced and released, in September 1960, 25 years earlier. A copy of the Déclaration was also included in the same issue. Aside for its reproduction in ARCP, the essay by Mascolo was also republished:

      • – – – 2004. As part of the collection Entêtements (Paris: Benoît Jacob, pp. 129-139)
      • – – – 2022. As part of the collection La révolution par l’amitié (Paris: La Fabrique, pp. 11-19)
  • Sur les effets d’une approches rétrospective (pp. 447-454)

    • Preface originally written for the reedition of the three issues of the journal Le 14 Juillet, published for a special issue of the intellectual revue Lignes, in July of 1990. Aside for its reproduction in ARCP, the essay was republished on a number of occasions:

      • – – – 2004. As part of the collection Entêtements (Paris: Benoît Jacob, pp. 117-128)
      • – – – 2011. A short excerpt was published under «L’amitié du non» in the French journal Vacarmes (Vol. 3, No. 56, p. 95)
  • • • •

Avec Dionys Mascolo (1998)

Cover “Avec Dionys Mascolo,” Lignes, Issue No. 33, March 1998
Cover for “Avec Dionys Mascolo”, Lignes, Issue 33, Vol. 1, March 1998, Paris: Édition Hazan.

Table of content: online, PDF – Aside from À la recherche d’un communisme de pensée: entêtements (1993), this 260-page issue of Lignes first published in March 1998 (8 months after Mascolo’s death, in August 1997) currently offers the largest number of written pieces by Dionys Mascolo. The various essays, pamphlets, manifestos, tracts, etc. cover four main historical periods: 1) On communism (1946-1955); 2) On decolonization (1955-1959); 3) On Vietnam and Cuba (1967-1968); 4) On May 1968 (1968-1971). Additionally, the issue presents for the first time a correspondance between Dionys Mascolo and Gilles Deleuze (later included in Two Regimes of Madness), which was prompted by Deleuze’s reaction to Mascolo’s book Autour d’un effort de mémoire (published in 1987), as well as a precious correspondance between Mascolo and Blanchot pertaining to the preparation of that book. The issue concludes with an annex providing reports written by Mascolo and Antelme for the Parti communiste français (PCF), in reply to criticism addressed by the Party, which will led to their exclusion in 1950. The two reports are preceded by a presentation written by Edgar Morin for this issue of Lignes. Also worth noting, the inclusion of excerpts from Mascolo’s unpublished notebooks (not reproduced anywhere else).

The issue also comes accompanied by two useful introductory essays: one by Daniel Dobbels (which explains the genealogy of the issue, which had been in preparation since the early 1990s) and one by Michel Surya (where an explanation for the title “Avec Dionys Mascolo” is offered, having to do with the collective nature of his writing practice and, more generally, with what Mascolo’s names a “communism of thought”: one does not think alone). An acknowledgments section (PDF), at the very beginning of the issue, names those without whom the issue could not have been made: Solange Mascolo (his partner from 1977 to his death, in 1997), Monique Antelme, Maurice Blanchot, Fanny Deleuze, Jean-Pierre Boyer (founder of Éditions Fourbis, and later Éditions Farrago), and the Institut Mémoires de l’édition contemporaine (IMEC) (where, at the time, Mascolo’s archives were being transferred, and where they are now preserved). Aside from the editorial notes presented with each items, the entire issue also comes with a critical apparatus in the form of footnotes.

What follows is the full table of content, annotated. The context of origin for each item is briefly provided, largely based on the presentation notes available in the issue, along with additional contextual information, and occasional corrections. When possible, I also indicate if a given item was subsequently republished. In 2014, the whole Issue No. 33 was made available online at Cairn.info: a direct link to this digital reproduction is provided for each item. If an author is not mentioned following a title, it is officially attributed to Mascolo.

  • Dionys Mascolo : Esquisse pour un portrait, by Daniel Dobbels (pp. 5-12)

  • Avec Dionys Mascolo : présentation, by Michel Surya (pp. 13-18)

    • An editorial indicates that when texts already published were subsequently modified by Mascolo, the modifications were included in this issue. Titles correspond to the original titles. If a text presented in the issue did not have a title, the editors provided one, marked by brackets. Similarly, the editors sometimes attributed an anonymous text to an author, in which case the names also appears within brackets. Some shorter “tracts” where titled using the first words of the text. Finally, we learn that the editors choose to place the entire issue under a dedication Mascolo had considered for À la recherche d’un communisme de pensée: entêtements: “À Maurice Nadeau, qui aura su comme nul autre donner parole à autrui.”

— Le parti, le communisme —

  • [Carnets, extraits (1946)] (pp. 21-24)

    • Dionys Mascolo kept notebooks throughout his life, although none were ever published. This specific excerpt dated from October 27, 1946, offers a window of Mascolo’s activism as the young communist he was during that period. Hence the choice made by the editors to present it first, while other excerpts are presented towards the end of the issue.
  • [Rapport au Cercle des critiques sur les questions de la littérature et de l’esthétique (1948)] by Robert Antelme and Dionys Mascolo (pp. 25-39)

    • The Cercle des critiques was a committee within the French communist party tasked with discussing if the Party had the right to intervene on problems of aesthetics (i.e. arts, but more specifically literature). In June 1948, Antelme and Mascolo were invited to debate their position, since both of them denied the Party such a right. What was presented as a free and voluntary discussion would later be used against them to propose their exclusion from the party, in 1950 (see the final annexes).
  • Appel aux travailleurs de France [Dionys Mascolo] (pp. 40-44)

    • This call (“appel” in French) was written by Mascolo following the speech given by Nikita Khrouchtchev at the 20th Congress of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union held in February 1956, which denounced Staline’s crimes. The text was modified by other authors. The editors of Lignes couldn’t established if this call was ever published, but it was made available publicly via mimeographed copies (“ronéotype”). The call came with a list a early signatories including Michel Leiris, Edgar Morin, Dionys Mascolo, Maurice Nadeau, and others.
  • [Je n’avais, en quittant le parti communiste…] (pp. 45-46)

    • First published in Le Nouvel observateur, November 1967 (Issue No. 155, November 1-7, 1967), under the title “Un témoignage de Dionys Mascolo.” Mascolo goes back to when he left the French communist party, and highlights the importance to distinguish between what he calls “l’exigence communiste” from the organisation which is tasked to channel such a demand or requirement, namely the party.
  • Sur le sens et l’usage du mot « gauche » [1995] (pp. 47-62)

    • First published in May 1955, in a double issue of Les Temps modernes titled “La Gauche” (Gallimard, Issues No. 112-113, May 1st, 1955). With contributions by S. de Beauvoir, C. Lanzmann, J. Pouillon, J. Desanti, M. Péju, C. Bourdet, P. Naville, G. Martinet, and others. This represents Mascolo’s unique contribution to Les Temps modernes. Minor modifications were made by Mascolo on the 1955 versions, included in this issue. The text was later republished:
      • – – – 2011. Sur le sens et l’usage du mot «gauche», Paris: Nouvelles éditions Lignes (publisher website).
      • – – – 2022. The above was republished by Nouvelles éditions Lignes (Paris), with a postface by Alphonse Clarou (publisher website).

— La décolonisation —

  • Appel du Comité d’action contre la poursuite de la guerre en Afrique du Nord [1955] [Dionys Mascolo] (pp. 63-67)

    • On November 5, 1955 Mascolo and a couple of friends (Antelme, Duras, and others) are invited (or invited themselves) to a meeting of the Société des horticulteurs. The official goal of this meeting is to form a committee, in order to oppose the continuation of the war in North Africa. A joint commitment is decided, which takes the form of this call (“appel”). Mascolo was the main authors. More contextual information is provided in the issue.
  • Pour l’abolition du colonialisme [1956] (pp. 68-72)

    • Speech delivered by Mascolo on January 27, 1956, during a meeting of Comité des intellectuels contre la poursuite de la guerre en Afrique du Nord (created on Nov. 5, 1955, during the meeting identified in the previous item: see the notice in BnF catalog). The meeting took place at Salle Wagram a historic  auditorium in the 17th arrondissement of Paris (Wikipedia). Other intellectuals also delivered speeches, among them Jean Amrouche, Robert Barrat, Aimé Césaire, Daniel Guérin, Michel Leiris, André Mandouze, Jean-Jacques Mayoux, and Jean-Paul Sartre. The speeches delivered at this meeting were subsequently published in a collection:
      • – – – 1956. Guerre d’Algérie et colonialisme, Paris : Comité d’action des intellectuels contre la poursuite de la guerre en Afrique du Nord, 1956, 91 pp. (BnF notice; cover: JPEG)
  • Lettre (19 novembre 1956) (pp. 72-73)

    • The Comité des intellectuels contre la poursuite de la guerre en Afrique du Nord will dissolve (or implode) one year after its creation, in November 1956, when the USSR invaded Hungary to repress the Hungarian Revolution. This is the letter Mascolo wrote on November 19, 1956, to explain why he won’t join future meetings.
  • Appel en faveur d’un Cercle international des intellectuels révolutionnaires [Dionys Mascolo] (pp. 74-78)

    • First published without signatories in Lettres Nouvelles, Issue No. 49, May 1957 (edited by Maurice Nadeau; cover: JPEG). A subsequent note indicated that three working groups were created to support the call. The call for the creation of this group (or “Cercle”) was also supposed to be accompanied by a monthly publication. The publication never came to be, but the idea paved the way to the creation of the short-lived but important anti-Gaullist journal Le 14 Juillet. Notes by Mascolo toward this project are also included.
  • Projet pour un jugement populaire et premières mesures exécutoires, by Dionys Mascolo and Jean Schuster (pp. 79-83)

    • As documented elsewhere in the present annotated bibliography, Dionys Mascolo and Jean Schuster launched the journal (“revue” in French) Le 14 Juillet in 1958, with the explicit goal of publicly opposing and denouncing the way de Gaulle took power the same year, in a military coup also known as the “Algiers putsch” or “the coup of 13 May” (Wikipedia). Three issues will be published between July 14, 1958 and June 18, 1959 (see ARCP pp. 147-176, above, for more details). In September 1958, between the first and second issue, Mascolo and Schuster will sent out a “declaration” titled “Projet pour un jugement populaire” (according to another source, the text was titled “Envoi spécial / avant le no. 2” and published on September 21, 1958: see Livres rares). The editors note how this declaration can be read as a first –if radically different– version of the upcoming Déclaration sur le droit à l’insoumission. Whereas the latter would put emphasis on “insoumission”, the declaration from September 1958 focuses on the necessity of “incivism” to fight de Gaulle’s government.
      • – – – 1990. As a facsimile of the originals (Paris: Lignes/Séguier). The reedition was presented by Daniel Dobbels, Francis Marmande, and Michel Surya, while Diony Mascolo and Jean Schuster wrote a new preface (see here: “Sur les effets d’une approches rétrospective”).
  • Déclaration sur le droit à l’insoumission dans la guerre d’Algérie. Manifeste dit des « 121 »
    (pp. 84-87)

    • As the editors note, in early 1960, the “Jeanson trial” (named after Francis Jeanson, the leader of an underground network who supported the Algerian FNL or Front national de libération), Mascolo felt another intervention was needed. It takes the form of a new declaration initially titled “Adresse à l’opinion nationale” and again co-written with Jean Schuster. There would be at least 15 versions produced, before the final version, to which Blanchot collaborated and to which he also gave its final title. This declaration has since been republished on numerous occasions, too numerous to be listed here. Worth listing however is the important “dossier spécial” put together by François Maspero in January 1961 (see just below). The Déclaration is also available in various English translations (see for instance marxist.org, which notably does not identify Mascolo as the main proponent of this initiative). Robert Barrat, one of the signatories who was also arrested merely for having signed the Déclaration, provides additional context in a short account translated from French and published in Africa South in Exile Vol. 5, No. 2. January-March 1961, pp. 92-94 (PDF).
      • – – – 1961. “Le droit à l’insoumission (le dossier des “121”)”, Cahiers libres, Issue No. 14 Paris: François Maspero, 264 pp.
      • – – – 2018. Republished as a digital facsimile by FeniXX
  • (Documents annexes) Mise au point, by Maurice Blanchot (pp. 87-89)

    • There is no presentation note for this item. It is a short reaction penned by Maurice Blanchot following criticism addressed to the Déclaration by Michel Cournot, a French writer, journalist and filmmaker (1922-2007).
      • – – – 2003. Republished as part of Écrits politiques. 1958-1993, Paris: Éditions Léo Scheer, pp. 32-35.
      • – – – 2008. Republished as part of Maurice Blanchot. Écrits politiques 1953-1993, Paris: Gallimard, pp. 55-58 (also reproduced without presentation notes).
  • [Lettre au Juge d’instruction] (pp. 89-90)

    • This letter is dated from November 19, 1956. The only note from the editors lists the signatories associated with the archival copy reproduced: D. Mascolo, M. Duras, M. Nadeau, G. Serreau, M. Lange, R. Antelme, J. Schuster, C. Lanzmann, O. de Magny, J. Lindon. The judge in question is most certainly “Juge Perez” also mentioned by Mascolo, years later, in his essay “Aux heures d’un communisme de pensée” (see ARCP pp. 439-446, above, for details). When the Déclaration was made public, the government’s reaction was swift and many of the signatories were charged (“inculpés”). But only one was arrested: Robert Barrat. Reacting to what they were perceiving as an arbitrary decision, the signatories of this letter reminded the Judge they too had signed, and asked for the Judge to show consistency and apply the same measures to all of them (that is, to arrest them all as well).
  • Saint-Just (pp. 91-95)

    • This text was published here for the first time. It was written and read during a radio broadcast in 1959, at the invitation of Alain Trutat. Mascolo had already published an introduction to a volume of Oeuvres choisies by Saint-Just, published in 1946 by Édition la Cité universelle (created by Robert Antelme and Marguerite Duras in 1946). See ARCP pp. 19-59 for more details about this introduction.
      • – – – 2022. As part of the collection La révolution par l’amitié (Paris: La Fabrique, pp. 20-26)

— Viêt Nam, Cuba—

  • En vue de la défaite américaine. Appel international pour une rupture [Robert Antelme] (pp. 97-101)

    • First published in Lettres nouvelles, July 1967 (likely the issue for July-September of 1967). At the time of writing, Librairie Faustroll sells an original print of the 2-page tract (facsimile of the first page: JPEG). In May 1967, Robert Antelme took the initiative of a new call for the defeat of the war in Vietnam. Many of the first signatories are the same who first signed the Déclaration sur le droit à l’insoumission dans la guerre d’Algérie. The topic is also familiar, building on the important thematic of refusal, here specifically the “honour of defeatism”. Also worth noting is how this call against the war condone violence (i.e. “violence comprise,” p. 101).
  • Les soussignés, invités… (pp. 102-104)

    • For the anniversy of Fidel Castro’s attack on the Mocada Barracks, a group of authors including (but not limited to) D. Mascolo, M. Duras, M. Leiris, G. Limbour, M. Nadeau, A. Carpentier, and J. Schuster accepted an invitation to travel to Havana, where they will stay between July 15 and August 7, 1967. Some will once again visit Cuba in January 1968, in order to attend the Cultural Congress of Havana (Congreso Cultural de La Habana: Wikipedia), held between January 4th and January 11th. In a special issue of Les Nouvelles Lettres from Dec. 1967-Jan. 1968, Mascolo will publish his essay “Cuba, premier territoire libre du socialisme” (see ARCP, pp. 265-297). In March 1968, many of the intellectuals who travelled to Cuba will participate in the creation of the International association of the friends of the Cuban revolution (Association internationale des amis de la Révolution cubaine). For Mascolo and for others, this public support will cease abruptly when Castro offered official diplomatic support to the Warsaw Pact invasion of Czechoslovakia, in August 1968 (see next item).
  • Lettre ouverte au Parti communiste de Cuba (pp. 104-107)

    • As suggested just above, Castro’s official approval of the invasion of Czechoslovakia by four countries of the Warsaw Pact, On August 20-21, 1968, triggered this reaction, largely written by Mascolo. The letter will first appeared in the surrealist journal L’Archibras (Issue No. 5, special edition, Paris: Le Terrain Vague, September 30, 1968, p. 9; Jean Schuster was the editor of the journal; cover: JPEG), signed by Antelme, Blanchot, Duras, and Mascolo (signatures are dated from September 7, 1968). The editors of Lignes suggest the letter will appear again in an issue of Le Nouvel Observateur, this time with the additional support of C. Courtot, G. Goldfayn, G. Legrand and J. Schuster. No addtional detail is provided, but this would likely be an issue from October 1968 (No. 151, 152, 153 or 154).

— May 1968—

  • Mai-juin 1968 : Tracts du Comité d’action étudiants-écrivains (Sorbonne-Censier) (pp. 109-128)

    • This section gathers 20 items, all tracts (very short texts) produced by the Comité d’action étudiants-écrivains (Sorbonne-Censier). This committee was created on the third day of the takeover of the Sorbonne. Some of the most active members are identified as Monique and Robert Antelme, M. Blanchot, V. Bounoure, M. Duras, J. Duvignaud, L.-R. des Forêts, M. Leiris, D. Mascolo, M. Nadeau, C. Rochefort, and others, as they would meet on a daily basis at the occupied Sorbonne. There, they would discuss and debate, write tracts, calls, and collective declarations. These activities are briefly featured in William Klein’s 98-minute documentary film Grands soir, petits matins, released in 1978 (see film-documentaire.fr for more information). Marguerite Duras describes the birth of the committee in a short text titled “Naissance d’un comité” (this text will go on to play a substantial role in the dissolution of the committee: see ARCP pp. 324-330). For more information (in French) about the genesis of the Comité d’action étudiants-écrivains, see Jean-François Hamel: “Le demain joueur du Comité d’action étudiants-écrivains : genèse d’un collectif littéraire d’agitation et de propagande” (Fabula/Les colloques, La littérature contemporaine au collectif, 2020)

      The editors of Lignes included all the tracts they could find (for more information, see Jean-François Hamel, Nous sommes tous la pègre. Les années 68 de Blanchot, Paris: Éditions de Minuit, 2018, p. 13, note 7: PDF). Some have a title, for the others a title was given marked by brackets. When a specific author was identified, it is also indicated with brackets. All 20 items are listed below, with corresponding page numbers, as well as occasional contextual information. These tracts have been republished in various venues, which could not be all listed here. The texts signed or attributed to Maurice Blanchot have been reproduced in two collections of his “political writings,” and can be found in English translations in Political Writings, 1953-1993 (Fordham University Press, 2010)1.

      1. [Seul, après toutes les tentatives…] (pp. 111-112)
      2. [La solidarité que nous affirmons ici…] [Maurice Blanchot], dated May 8, 1968 (pp. 112-113)
        • Published in Le Monde, May 9, 1968, with the title “Il est capital que le mouvement des étudiants oppose et maintienne une puissance de refus, déclarent MM. Jean-Paul Sartre, Henri Lefebvre et un groupe d’écrivains et de philosophes
      3. Appel aux intellectuels en vue d’un boycott de L’O.R.T.F. 1, dated May 20, 1968 (p. 113)
      4. Appel aux intellectuels en vue d’un boycott de L’O.R.T.F. 2, dated May 20, 1968 (p. 114)
      5. Le Comité d’action étudiants-écrivains réplique au Parti communiste français, dated May 27, 1968 (pp. 114-115)
      6. [Un gouvernement ne gouverne…] [Maurice Blanchot] (p. 115)
        • For more information about the reference to “les négotiations du Châtelet” (“Châtelet negotiations”) which lead to the Grenelle agreements, see Wikipedia.
      7. La poursuite de la grève générale, dated May 30, 1968 (pp. 115-116)
      8. [L’interdiction de séjour…] (p. 116)
      9. [Plutôt que de renoncer au pouvoir…], dated June 4, 1968 (pp. 116-117)
      10. Adresse du Comité d’action étudiants-écrivains au Parti communiste français, à la Fédération de la gauche démocratique et socialiste et au Parti socialiste unifié , dated June 8, 1968 (p. 117)
      11. Déclaration du Comité d’action écrivains-étudiants, dated June 12, 1968
        • Worth noting how the name of the committee varies: sometimes “étudiants-écrivains” or, as it is the case here, “écrivains-étudiants.”
      12. [La démocratie se fait à la base] dated June 13, 1968 (pp. 119-120)
      13. Qui a choisi le fils a choisi la vie éternelle (pp. 120-121)
        • – – – 2022. Republished as part of collection La révolution par l’amitié (Paris: La Fabrique, pp. 161-163, see below)
      14. [Par le pouvoir de refus] [Maurice Blanchot] (p. 122)
        • Published (among other venues) in Le Monde, June 18, 1968
      15. [Le refus combatif qui…], dated June 28, 1968 (pp. 122-123)
      16. Lettre adressée à tous les écrivains du Comité d’action étudiants-écrivains, dated July 11, 1968 (pp. 124-125)
      17. Le crime [Maurice Blanchot], dated June 25, 1968 (pp. 125-126)
        • Published in a slightly different version (signed “Comité d’action écrivains-étudiants”) in Le Nouvel Observateur, Issue No. 194, July 29-August 4, 1968
      18. À quoi de Gaulle sert-il? (pp. 126-128)
      19. [Lettre à un représentant de la radiotélévision yougoslave] [Maurice Blanchot] (pp. 129-131)
        • The editors explain the letter was found in the archive of Dionys Mascolo, who helped identifying its author. The recipient could not be identified.
      20. [Les caractères possibles…] [Maurice Blanchot] (pp. 131-132)
        • These notes elaborate on an upcoming publishing venture, which will materialize as the first issue of Comité (next item, below). The editors highlight how these notes also closely point to Blanchot’s project of a Revue internationale on which he would work from 1960 to 1965, alongside D. Mascolo, R. Antelme, and others (for more information on the project of a Revue internationale, see Lignes, Issue No. 11, September 1990).
  • Comité. Numéro 1. Bulletin publié par le Comité d’Action étudiants-écrivains au service du Mouvement (octobre 1968) (pp. 133-174)

    • The publication project discussed by Blanchot in the previous item (pp. 131-132) will materialize in October of 1968 as the first issue of a journal or “bulletin” simply titled Comité. The editors incorrectly suggest only one issue was published. A second issue was published in 1969, although under significantly different conditions (see Jean-François Hamel again, Nous sommes tous la pègre. Les années 68 de Blanchot, Paris: Éditions de Minuit, 2018, p. 13, note 7 [PDF], pp. 106-108; see also for a reproduction of the second issue Pierre Bouvier, Mai 68. Traces et griffages, Paris: Galilée, 2018; the correspondance between Maurice Blanchot and Jacques Bellefroid also sheds light on the events that divided the committee in February 1969: “Correspondance Maurice Blanchot / Catherine Podgorny / Jacques Bellefroid”). The editors note that contrary to the collective nature of the tracts (items above), the first issue of Comité was not a collective endeavour. When Mascolo assembled À la recherche d’un communisme de pensée, he reappropriated the texts he wrote. Blanchot did the same for this issue of Lignes, allowing his name to be associated with the specific texts he composed. The texts marked [XXX] were not assigned to a specific author (either because they remain unknown, or because they refused to be identified). It is worth noting that not all texts from Comité were reproduced in this issue of Lignes: “À vos marqueurs,” “Un vaste complot international (quelques repères),” “Conseils aux gens de la rue,” and “Chers camarades” are missing. Also of importance is the absence of the many quotes –some quite lengthy– printed between the texts, or in the margins: quotes from Trotsky, Guevara, Lenin, Orwell, Flaubert, Marx, Baudelaire, Luxembourg, and Hölderlin are missing. Emphasis using bold typeface in the original also have been lost in the reproduction in Lignes. As noted above (ARCP pp. 299-318), a facsimile of the entire issue is available via the archives of Georges Sebbag website (Comité numéro 1 – Octobre 1968”, where pencils notes identify some of the anonymous texts), along with preparation materials (idea for the title, graphic layout for the cover, printing receipt, etc.: “Autour du bulletin Comité). Below I provide both the page numbers for this issue of Lignes (L), and the corresponding page in the original 32-page edition of Comité Numéro 1 (C).
      1. À Censier [XXX] L133-134/C3
      2. En état de guerre [Maurice Blanchot] L134-136/C3-4
      3. Affirmer la rupture [Maurice Blanchot] L136-137/C4-5
      4. Le pouvoir de la rue [Dionys Mascolo] L137-138/C5
        • – – – 1993. Republished in À la recherche d’un communisme de pensée: entêtements, Paris: Fourbis, pp. 299-300
      5. Aujourd’hui [Maurice Blanchot] L138-139/C7
      6. La mort politique [Maurice Blanchot] L139-140/C8
      7. Le bitume [XXX] L140-141/C8-9
      8. Une illusion très générale [Dionys Mascolo] L141-143/C9-10
        • – – – 1993. Republished in À la recherche d’un communisme de pensée: entêtements, Paris: Fourbis, pp. 301-303
        • – – – 2022. Republished in La révolution par l’amitié, Paris: La Fabrique, pp. 167-171
      9. La rue [Maurice Blanchot] dated July 17, 1968, L143-144/C11
      10. Prague: La lettre des 2.000 mots [XXX] L144-146/C12
        • The editors note how this text along with “Les deux mille mots (1)” and “Les deux mille mots (2)” were written prior to the Warsaw Pact invasion of Czechoslovakia, in August 1968. They comment on “The Two Thousand Words” manifesto written by Czech writer Ludvík Vaculík and puplished on June 17, 1968 (Wikipedia).
      11. Les deux mille mots (2) [XXX] dated July 1968, L146-147/C12-13
      12. Le communisme sans héritage [Maurice Blanchot] L147-148/C13
      13. Depuis longtemps, la brutalité [Maurice Blanchot] L149/C14
      14. Les «deux mille mots» (3) [Dionys Mascolo] dated July 1968, L149-151/C14
        • – – – 1993. Republished in À la recherche d’un communisme de pensée: entêtements, Paris: Fourbis, pp. 304-305
      15. Juillet-mai [Dionys Mascolo] L151-153/C15-16
        • – – – 1993. Republished in À la recherche d’un communisme de pensée: entêtements, Paris: Fourbis, pp. 306-308
        • – – – 2022. Republished in La révolution par l’amitié, Paris: La Fabrique, pp. 164-167
      16. Tracts, affiches, bulletin [Maurice Blanchot] L153-155/C16
      17. Commentaires [XXX] L155/C16
      18. Que l’immense contrainte [Maurice Blanchot] L155-156/C17
      19. Les actions exemplaires [Maurice Blanchot] L156-157/C17-18
      20. Commentaire [XXX] L157C17
      21. Deux innovations caractéristiques [Maurice Blanchot] L157-158/C18
      22. Rupture du temps: révolution [Maurice Blanchot] L158/C18
      23. Pour le camarade Castro [Maurice Blanchot] L158-160/C22-23
      24. La reddition idéologique [Maurice Blanchot] L160-161/C23
      25. La clandestinité à ciel ouvert [Maurice Blanchot] L161-162/C23
      26. Les ambiguités de la «libéralisation» [XXX] L162/C24
      27. Réserves sur certaines remontrances à Fidel Castro [XXX] L162-163/C24
      28. À propos des réserves qui précèdent [XXX] L163/C24
      29. Les communistes de salut [Dionys Mascolo] L163-166/C25-26
        • – – – 1993. Republished in À la recherche d’un communisme de pensée: entêtements, Paris: Fourbis, pp. 309-312
      30. Commentaire [XXX] L166/C26
      31. La Pharisienne [Dionys Mascolo] L166-168/C28
        • – – – 1993. Republished in À la recherche d’un communisme de pensée: entêtements, Paris: Fourbis, pp. 312-314
      32. La théorie, force matérielle [Dionys Mascolo] L168-172/C29-30
        • – – – 1993. Republished in À la recherche d’un communisme de pensée: entêtements, Paris: Fourbis, pp. 314-318
      33. Lire Marx [Maurice Blanchot] L172-174/C31
        • – – – 1971. Republished as “Les trois paroles de Marx” in L’Amitié by Maurice Blanchot, Paris: Gallimard, pp. 115-117
  • — Comité : autres documents —

  • [Je tiens à t’informer moi-même…] dated February 13, 1969 (pp. 175-185)

    • The editors provide contextual information for the letter, which has to do with Mascolo’s decision to leave the Comité d’action étudiants-écrivains. Mascolo at the time had moved a motion calling for the complete dissolution of the committee, which failed to receive the support of a majority of members (see Georges Sebbag: “Correspondance Maurice Blanchot / Catherine Podgorny / Jacques Bellefroid”). Having failed to put an end to the committee, Mascolo decided to leave it.
  • Sur le mouvement [Maurice Blanchot] dated December 1968 (pp. 177-180)

    • In the summer of 1969, Maurice Nadeau and Les Lettres Nouvelles published five anonymous essays under the general title “Un an après, le Comité d’action écrivains-étudiants” (Issue of June-July 1969). An essay by M. Duras titled “Naissance d’un comité” as well as three essays by Mascolo were repulished in ARCP (pp. 324-363). The fifth text is the one reproduced here.
  • La paranoia au pouvoir. La dialectique de la répression: petite contribution à une recherche [XXX] (pp. 181-185)

    • A note by the editors suggests this text was gathered with others with the aim of publishing a second issue of Comité. As previously indicated, this second issue was published (contrary to what is indicated in Lignes), but this specific text is not reproduced in Mai 68. Traces et griffages, where most of the materials of the second issue can be found (Paris: Galilée, 2018). The author could not be identified.
  • L’Orient désert de Raymond Aron, 1968 (pp. 185-186)

    • An editorial note explains how this short text by Mascolo was also meant for a second issue of Comité. It is a reaction to the publication of Raymond Aron’s book La révolution introuvable. Réflexion sur les événements de Mai (Paris: Éditions Fayard, coll. “En toute liberté” curated by Alain Duhamel, September 1968; cover: JPEG). The please-insert (“prière d’insérer” in French) reads: “Pendant ces semaines de mai où la crise atteignait son paroxysme, Raymond Aron a été le seul à garder la tête froide.”
  • Le piège de l’abstention, 1969 (pp. 186-187)

    • Originating with the Comité d’action étudiants-écrivainns, this call (“appel”) to vote at the presidential election of 1969 was published (in part or in its entirety) by various press agencies. It is a reaction for a call to abstention made by Jean-Paul Sartre. Among the signatories are M. Clavel, M. Duras, G. Goldfayn, D. Guérin, P. Halbwachs, M. Leiris, E. Losfeld, D. Mascolo, P. Vidal-Naquet.
  • Projet d’adresse aux masses intellectuelles, 1970 (pp. 187-191)

    • Dated from May 1970, the editors suggest it was never made public before its reproduction in Lignes.
  • Sur la responsabilité du militant, 1972 (pp. 191-192)

    • Dated from March 8, 1972, this is a joint declaration initiated by Dionys Mascolo and Marguerite Duras about the way communist media reacted to the death of Pierre Overney. Among the first signatories were S. de Beauvoir, A. du Bouchet, F. Châtelet, L.-R. des Forêts, G. Goldfayn, D. Guérin, R. Lapoujade, H. Lefebvre, M. Leiris, M. Nadeau, J.-P. Sartre, and J. Schuster. Overney was a worker in a Renault car factory and a political activist. After being fired from his job, he went back to the factory to distribute pamphlets. During an altercation, a guard shot and killed him. 200,000 people attended his funeral on March 4, 1972. He is buried at Père Lachaise Cemetery (see Wikipedia). For more contextual information (in French) see the 2013 documentary film Mort pour la cause du peuple by Anne Argouse and Hugues Peyret, 53 minutes (trailer & viewing options).
  • Communication au sujet d’Antonin Artaud, Georges Bataille et André Breton. Précédée d’une lettre de D. Mascolo à M. Nadeau (pp. 193-194, link)

    • This come with no contextual information whatsoever. Mascolo’s letter explains the short “communication” which is a denouncitation of the “exploitation” of the names and ideas of Antonin Artaud, Georges Bataille and André Breton. The “communication” is signed by Marguerite Bonnet, Robert Antelme, Michel Leiris, and Dionys Mascolo. It was published in La Quinzaine littéraire, Issue No. 114, March 16-31 1971, p. 24 (cover). Both texts are also listed in Bibliographie des écrits de Michel Leiris 1924-1995 by Louis Yvert (Paris: Jean Michel Place, 1996; a copy used to be available online).

— Carnets —

  • Carnets. Extraits (pp. 194-206)

    • For contextual information, see in this same issue of Lignes, above, pp. 21-24.

— Correspondance. Au sujet de Autour d’un effort de mémoire (1986-1988) —

  • Correspondance D. Mascolo-M. Blanchot (pp. 207-221, link)

    • The editorial note offers useful contextual information, some of which is reproduced here, along with additional information. In 1947, Robert Antelme published a novel (also a testimony) about his experience as a prisoner in Nazi concentration camps (he was rescued from Dachau in April 1945 by François Mitterrand and Dionys Mascolo). L’espèce humaine was first published in 1947 by the publishing house la Cité Universelle created in 1946 by Antelme and M. Duras, without much success. Once this publishing house went backrupt, the book was acquired and republished by Robert Marin, but again without much success. The book was finaly acquired and republished by Gallimard, ten years later, in 1957. The book was translated into English as The Human Race by Jeffrey Haight and Annie Mahler in 1992 (Vermont: The Marlboro Press, 298 pp.). The same translation was republished by Northwestern University Press in 1998. Other unpublished writings by Antelme were later collected alongside interviews (including with Mascolo) and testimonies in Textes inédits. Sur L’espèce humaine. Essais et témoignages (Paris: Gallimard, 1996; trans. by Jeffrey Haight as On Robert Antelme’s The Human Race. Essays and Commentary, Nortwestern University, 2003).

      In 1986, Mascolo found a letter Antelme wrote to him in June 1945, just after his recue from Dachau, hence prior to writing L’espèce humaine. Mascolo had completely forgot about it. He will publish the letter alongside a long and poignant commentary under the title Autour d’un effort de mémoire. Sur une lettre de Robert Antelme (Paris: Maurice Nadeau, 1987). The exchange with Blanchot is a testimony to the difficulties Mascolo faced with this project. These difficulties were exacerbated by the fact that while Antelme was still alive at the time, he had been paralyzed by a stroke since 1983, and was suffering from ongoing, short-term memory loss, which made normal communication impossible. For more information in English, see Christopher Fynsk’s presentation “Surviving Friendship: Antelme, Mascolo, Blanchot,” given at The European Graduate School, on October 11, 2008. Below are the letters, with dates when available, and the page range in Lignes.

      • Dionys Mascolo à Maurice Blanchot, Friday March 28, 1986 (pp. 208-210)
      • Maurice Blanchot à Dionys Mascolo, [no date] (pp. 210-211)
      • Dionys Mascolo à Maurice Blanchot, May 1987 (pp. 212-213)
      • Maurice Blanchot à Dionys Mascolo, May 25, 1987 (pp. 214-215)
      • Maurice Blanchot à Dionys Mascolo, June 4, 1987 (pp. 215-216)
      • Dionys Mascolo à Maurice Blanchot, June 5, 1987 (pp. 216-218)
      • Maurice Blanchot à Dionys Mascolo, June 10, 1987 (pp. 218)
      • Dionys Mascolo à Maurice Blanchot, July 28, 1987 (pp. 219-220)
      • Maurice Blanchot à Dionys Mascolo, [not dated] 1987 (pp. 221)
  • Correspondance D. Mascolo-G. Deleuze (pp. 222-226)

    • This brief exchange exchange between Dionys Mascolo and Gilles Deleuze was prompted by Deleuze’s reading (and re-reading, according to his letter) of Autour d’un effort de mémoire (which came out in October 1987). Mascolo had apparently offered Deleuze a copy of the book (see the first letter by Deleuze). Below are the letters, with dates when available, and the page range in Lignes.
      • Gilles Deleuze à Dionys Mascolo, April 23, 1988 (p. 222)
      • Dionys Mascolo à Gilles Deleuze, April 30, 1988 (pp. 222-223)
      • Gilles Deleuze à Dionys Mascolo, August 6, 1988 (pp. 223-224)
      • Dionys Mascolo à Gilles Deleuze, September 28, 1988 (pp. 225-226)
      • Gilles Deleuze à Dionys Mascolo, October 6, 1988 (p. 226)

      The correspondance between Mascolo and Deleuze was republished and translated:

      • – – – 2003. As part of the collection Deux régimes de fous et autres textes (1975-1995) by Gilles Deleuze (ed. David Lapoujade), Paris: Édition de Minuit, pp. 305-310
      • – – – 2007. As part of the translation of the above Two Regimes of Madness. Texts and Interviews 1975–1995, trans. Ames Hodges and Mike Taormina, MIT/Semiotext(e), pp. 327-332
      • – – – 2022. Translated into Spanish as “Correspondencia entre Dionys Mascolo y Gilles Deleuze (1988),” trans. Artillería inmanente

— Annexes —

  • Mémoire justificatif au Parti communiste français au sujet de son exclusion, by Robert Antelme (pp. 227-249)

    • These two reports –the first by Antelme, the second by Mascolo– comes accompanied by a an editorial note providing historical context, as well as a “Présentation” written by Edgar Morin specifically for the issue of Lignes (pp. 229-230). The reports shed light on how both Antelme and Mascolo were “excluded” (or forced to self-exclusion, as it was common practice at the time) from the Parti communiste français (PCF). It’s a testimony to both the “stalinization” of the Party, and the continuous struggle of Antelme and Mascolo (along with Morin and others) to safeguard art (and specifically literature) from the political oversight of the Party. For a detailed account of these events (i.e. how Mascolo, Antelme, but also M. Duras were excluded from the PCF), see Gérard Streiff’s Procès stalinien à Saint-Germain-des-Prés (Paris: Éditions Syllepse, 1999, 144 pp.; publisher website).
  • Mémoire justificatif au Parti communiste français au sujet de son exclusion, by Dionys Mascolo (pp. 250-259)

  • • • •

Entêtements (2004)

Cover for Dionys Mascolo’s collection 'Entêtements,' Paris: Benoît Jacob, 252 pp.
Cover for Dionys Mascolo’s collection Entêtements, Paris: Benoît Jacob, 252 pp.

Table of content: JPG; publisher website – This collection is entirely made of essays previously published in À la recherche d’un communisme de pensée: entêtements (Paris: Fourbis, 1993; see above for details). Published in 2004 by Benoît Jacob publisher (the publishing house founded by Jean Mascolo, the son of Marguerite Duras and Dionys Mascolo: read more), the volume also reproduces the same presentation notes that accompanies each text in ARCP. In addition to the essays, it offers a short, annotated biographical and bibliographical timeline (pp. 245-248), as well as a portrait of Dionys Mascolo from his archive (reproduced at the top of the present entry). The cover is illustrated by an artwork by Michèle Laverdac titled “La transformation du même.”

Since every essays published in this collection was previously published in ARCP, the annotated table of content below refers to the annotated table of content of ARCP (above), where more details about original publications, reeditions, and subsequent republications can be found.

  • Lettre polonaise : sur la misère intellectuelle en France (pp. 7-78)

    • First published as a book in 1957 by Les éditions de Minuit (preview available on Gallica). See the entry under ARCP (pp. 65-122), above, for more details.

  • Trois textes publiés dans Le 14 Juillet (pp. 79-116)

    • I. Refus inconditionnel (pp. 81-83)
    • II. La part irréductible (pp. 84-102)
    • III. Sur le pouvoir temporel de l’intelligence (pp. 103-116)
    • These essays were published in the anti-Gaullist journal Le 14 Juillet, founded by Dionys Mascolo and Jean Schuster. It would run for three issues between July 14, 1958 (issue No. 1) and June 18, 1959 (issue No. 3). See the entry under ARCP (pp. 147-176), above, for more details.

  • Sur les effets d’une approches rétrospective (pp. 117-128)

    • Preface originally written for the reedition of the three issues of the journal Le 14 Juillet, published for a special issue of the intellectual revue Lignes, in July of 1990. See the entry under ARCP (pp. 447-454), above, for more details.

  • Aux heures d’un communisme de pensée (pp. 129-139)

    • First published in L’Autre journal, Issue No. 9, November 1985, as an answer to questions about the Déclaration sur le droit à l’insoumission dans la guerre d’Algérie. See the entry under ARCP (pp. 439-446), above, for more details.

  • Le mouvement, par-delà optimisme et pessimisme (Décembre 1968) (pp. 141-163)

    • One of three texts first published anonymously in Les Lettres Nouvelles June-July 1969 (Paris: Mercure de France, 190 pp.), along with four other texts, under the general title “Un an après, le Comité d’action écrivains-étudiants” (in the June-July issue from 1969: pp. 143-188). See the entry under ARCP (pp. 323-364), above, for more details.

  • Contre les idéologies de la mauvais conscience (pp. 165-175)

    • This essay was first published in La Quinzaine Littéraire Issue No. 107, Dec. 1-15, 1970, pp. 14-15. See the entry under ARCP (pp. 366-372), above, for more details.

  • De la persistance intellectuelle (pp. 177-201)

    • First published in two parts in La Quinzaine Littéraire (Issue No. 423, September 1st, 1984, and Issue No. 424, September 16, 1984). See the entry under ARCP (pp. 419-437), above, for more details.

  • Le surréalisme demain (pp. 203-210)

    • First published in La Quinzaine Littéraire, Issue 14, October 15-31, 1966, p. 17. The entire issue is available online. See the entry under ARCP (pp. 211-216), above, for more details.

  • Le surréalisme, demain (pp. 203-210)

    • First published in La Quinzaine Littéraire, Issue 14, October 15-31, 1966, p. 17. The entire issue is available online. See the entry under ARCP (pp. 211-216), above, for more details.

  • Surréalisme, morale, musique (pp. 211-223)

    • First published in La Quinzaine Littéraire, Issue 114, March 16-31, 1971, pp. 22-24 (coverfull issue). See the entry under ARCP (pp. 373-381), above.

  • Hommage à Maurice Blanchot (pp. 225-233)

    • First published in La Quinzaine Littéraire, Issue No. 12, September 15-30, 1966, p. 27 (cover). See the entry under ARCP (pp. 205-210), above, for more details.

  • Parler de Blanchot (pp. 235-242)

    • Both the 1993 Fourbis edition (ARCP) and Entêtements suggest this essay was first published in La Quinzaine Littéraire, 1980. According to publisher Maurice Nadeau, the essay was first published in La Quinzaine Littéraire, Issue 341, February 1st, 1981 (cover is missing; search in the archives for the information). See the entry under ARCP (pp. 407-412), above, for more details.

    • • •

La révolution par l’amitié (2022)

Cover for La révolution par l’amitié, Paris: La Fabrique, 2022
Cover for Dionys Mascolo’s collection La révolution par l’amitié, Paris: La Fabrique, 2022

Table of Content: PDF; publisher website – After À la recherche d’un communisme de pensée: entêtements (1993), Issue No. 33 of Lignes in 1998, and Entêtements (2004, which is itself a selection of essays previously published in ARCP), La révolution par l’amitié is the largest collection of essays by Dionys Mascolo. Like Entêtements, it borrows most of its essays (all but four) from ARCP. Given the fact that hard copies of ARCP are not easy to come by, it makes available again a number of important essays by Dionys Mascolo. It comes with a short presentation by the publisher (up until 2019, the collection was advertised with a presentation by Julien Coupat, but that presentation does not appear in the edition that was released in early 2022).

  • Aux heures d’un communisme de pensée (pp. 11-19)

    • First published in L’Autre journal, Issue No. 9 November 1985. See the entry under ARCP, above, for more details.

      • – – – 2014. Republished in Entêtements (Paris: Benoît Jacob, pp. 129-139)
  • Saint-Just (pp. 20-26)

    • This text was never published while Mascolo was alive. It was first published in 1998, in Issue No. 33 of Lignes entirely dedicated to Mascolo (see above). The presentation note in La Fabrique 2022 edition reproduces the one available in this 1998 issue. The text was meant for radio broadcasting, and written at the invitation of Alain Trutat. Mascolo has already written –under the pseudonyme Jean Gratien– an introduction to a selection of works by Saint-Just, Oeuvres choisies (reedited by Gallimard in 1968). This introduction, titled “Si la lecture de Saint-Just est possible,” was included in ARCP: see above for more details.

      • – – – 1998. Republished in Lignes, Issue No. 33, Vol. 1, Paris: Édition Hazan, pp. 91-95
  • Trois textes publiés dans Le 14 Juillet (pp. 27-61)

    • These three essays were first published in Le 14 Juillet, which ran 3 issues between 1958 and 1958. See ARCP above for more details.

      • – – – 1993. Republished in À la recherche d’un communisme de pensée: entêtements, Paris: Fourbis, pp. 147-176
  • Nietzsche, l’esprit moderne et l’Antéchrist (pp. 62-113)

    • Written as a preface for a French edition of Friedrich Nietzsche’s Der Antichrist, translated by Robert Rovini and published by French publisher J.J. Pauvert in May 1967. See ARCP above for more details.

      • – – – 1993. Republished in À la recherche d’un communisme de pensée: entêtements, Paris: Fourbis, pp. 221-264.
      • – – – 2000. Republished as a standalone book Nietzsche, l’esprit moderne et l’Antéchrist, Tours: Farrago, 64pp.
  • Si la lecture de Saint-Just est possible (pp. 114-160)

    • This text was written under the pseudonyme Jean Gratien as an introduction to a collection of texts by French revolutionary Louis Antoine Léon de Saint-Just titled Oeuvres choisie and published by Éditions de la Cité in April 1946.

      • – – – 1968. Reedition published by Gallimard, this time with new foreword by Mascolo (dated from 1967), also reproduced in the present collection.
      • – – – 1993. Republished in À la recherche d’un communisme de pensée: entêtements, Paris: Fourbis, pp. 19-59 (also includes the 1967 foreword).
  • Qui a choisi le Fils a choisi la vie éternelle (pp. 161-163)

    • This text was never published while Mascolo was alive. It has no signature (aside from the mention “Rédaction collective” at the end) and is not dated. It was found as a typewritten document, in the archive of Dionys Mascolo, and includes handwritten additions. It was first published in 1998, in Issue No. 33 of Lignes. The presentation note in La Fabrique 2022 edition reproduces the one available in this 1998 issue.

      • – – – 1998. Republished in Lignes, Issue No. 33, Vol. 1, Paris: Édition Hazan, pp. 120-121. Available online.
  • Textes sur Mai 68 dans Comité (pp. 164-191)

    • These three essays were published anonymously in issue no. 1 of Comité (October 1968, 32pp.), the “bulletin” of the Comité d’action étudiants-écrivains, to which Mascolo participated. See ARCP for more details.

      • – – – 1993. Republished in À la recherche d’un communisme de pensée: entêtements, Paris: Fourbis, “Juillet-Mai,” pp. 306-308; “Une illusion très générale…,” pp. 301-303; “Le mouvement, par-delà optimisme et pessmisme,” pp. 343-358.
      • – – – 1998. Two of these texts were republished in Lignes, Issue No. 33, Vol. 1, Paris: Édition Hazan, “Une illusion très générale,” pp. 141-143; “Juillet-Mai,” pp. 151-153. Available online.
  • Contre les idéologies de mauvaises conscience (pp. 192-200)

    • This essay was first published in La Quinzaine Littéraire Issue No. 107, Dec. 1-15, 1970, pp. 14-15. It was a reaction to two essays, one by Jean-Paul Sartre and one by Bernard Pingaud: see ARCP, above, for further details.

      • – – – 1971. Along with the essays by Sartre and Pingaud, as a book titled Du rôle de l’intellectuel dans le mouvement révolutionnaire (Eric Losfeld publisher, series Le Désordre, 50 pp.). Mascolo’s essay appears on pp. 14-50.
      • – – – 1993. Republished in À la recherche d’un communisme de pensée: entêtements, Paris: Fourbis, pp. 366-372.
      • – – – 2011. As part of the small book Sur le sens et l’usage du mot gauche (Paris: Ligne, pp. 41-54; reedited in 2022)
  • Sur ma propre bêtise et celle de quelques autres (pp. 201-221)

    • This is the only essay of the La Fabrique collection presented without any information about its origin. It was first published as an article in Les Lettres Nouvelles, Issue No. 2, April 1953 (cover: JPEG).

      • – – – 1953. Included in Le Communisme. Révolution et communication ou la dialectique des valeurs et des besoins, Paris: Gallimard, pp. 130-144.
  • • • •

Dionys Mascolo: undated portrait
Dionys Mascolo, undated portrait reproduced in Entêtements, Paris: Benoît Jacob, 2004, p. 243. The portrait is also part of the large Dionys Mascolo archive preserved at the Institut Mémoires de l’édition contemporaine (IMEC).

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Martin Heidegger, Media Studies, and Ethics https://aphelis.net/martin-heidegger-media-ethics/ Tue, 03 Aug 2021 20:34:32 +0000 https://aphelis.net/?p=17391 ☛ Photo: Martin Heidegger during lunch, in the garden of the Hotel du Chasselas. Summer 1966. In François Fédier, Soizante-deux photographies de Martin Heidegger, Paris: Gallimard, 1999, no. 57. The following book chapter was written during the summer of 2017 and published in 2018: Theophanidis, Philippe. “A Decisive Mediation: Heidegger, Media Studies, and Ethics.” In […]

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Martin Heidegger during lunch, in the garden of the Hotel du Chasselas. Summer 1966

☛ Photo: Martin Heidegger during lunch, in the garden of the Hotel du Chasselas. Summer 1966. In François Fédier, Soizante-deux photographies de Martin Heidegger, Paris: Gallimard, 1999, no. 57.

The following book chapter was written during the summer of 2017 and published in 2018:

Theophanidis, Philippe. “A Decisive Mediation: Heidegger, Media Studies, and Ethics.” In We Need to Talk about Heidegger: Essays Situating Martin Heidegger in Contemporary Media Studies, edited by Justin Michael Battin and German A Duarte, Berlin: Peter Lang, 2018, pp. 233–277. PDF scanned / PDF from e-book (fully searchable).

The chapter examines the intersection of the epistemological problem we find under the generic label “media studies” and the political problem presented by Martin Heidegger’s involvement with Nazism and anti-Semitism. At this juncture, it opens a path for a reconsideration of the idea of “mediation” from the perspective of ethics. The two first paragraphs are reproduced below:

When it comes to the ways in which media studies intersects with Heidegger’s philosophical work, two crucial problems cannot be overlooked: the definition of media and Heidegger himself. The former is a notoriously fuzzy concept, while the latter was infamously involved with Nazism and anti-Semitism. This chapter opens a path to addressing those problems. This path exposes not a solution, but instead highlights the issue of how we are for one another, and the care that is consequently required from and for us.

In the first part of this chapter, I expand on the two problems initially identified—media and Heidegger—and provide them with contextual background. I cast the problem of defining “media” and “media studies” as an epistemological one. In doing so, I show how one common way to borrow from Heidegger in media studies is to reference modern communication technologies. Since this is a relatively recent and rather specialized extension of the idea of medium, I argue Heidegger’s influence in the nascent field of media studies is neither straightforward nor clearly established. Turning more specifically to Heidegger’s own prejudices, I outline the well-documented and more complicated problem of his involvement with Nazism and anti-Semitism. I cast this problem as a political one. While some have argued that Heidegger’s distorted political views contaminated all his work, I suggest that this is no reason for media studies to steer away from it. Going back to the emergence of the fields of communication and media studies, I show how the epistemological always was and still remains entangled with the political. While banning Heidegger is ultimately an ineffective way to deal with the nature of the problematic views he presented (and getting rid of him does not spare us from the issues of prejudice anyway), merely sidestepping his involvement in the Nazi party is clearly not responsible either. I suggest instead that both the epistemological and political require ethical engagement. I outline how such an ethical engagement is of special concern for media studies, since it can be cast as a process of mediation. This approach offers alternative routes through the epistemological and political issues identified in Heidegger’s works. (233-234).

• • •

Related entries pertaining to Martin Heidegger:

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On lemmings: a short story by Primo Levi https://aphelis.net/primo-levi-lemmings/ Thu, 29 Jul 2021 21:52:14 +0000 https://aphelis.net/?p=17373 “I’ll think about that later. Right now I still wanted to tell you that between those who have a love of life and those who have lost it no common language exists. The same event is described by the two in two totally different ways: one derives joy and the other torment, each extracting from […]

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“I’ll think about that later. Right now I still wanted to tell you that between those who have a love of life and those who have lost it no common language exists. The same event is described by the two in two totally different ways: one derives joy and the other torment, each extracting from it confirmation of its own worldview.”

“Both of them can’t be right.”

“No. Generally speaking, as you know, and one must have the courage to say so, the others are right.”

“The lemmings?”

“Sure, let’s call them the lemmings.”

“And us?”

“We’re wrong, and we know it, but we find it more palatable to keep our eyes shut. Life does not have a purpose; pain always prevails over joy; we are all condemned to death, and the day of execution is not revealed; we are condemned to witness the death of those closest to us. There are compensations, but few. We know all this, and yet something protects us and sustains us and keeps us from devastation. What is this protection? Perhaps it is only habit: the habit of living, which we contract at birth.”

☛ Primo Levi, “Heading West,” trans. Jenny McPhee, collected in The Complete Works of Primo Levi, New York: Liveright Publishing, 2015, pp. 586-595, PDF.

The short story “Heading West” was first published in Italian under the titled “Verso occidente,” as part of the collection Vizio di forma (Giulio Einaudi, 1971, PDF; the same short story was later republished in the 1987 second edition of Vizio di forma, as well as in two subsequent different collections: see the entry at the Catalogo Vegetti della Letteratura Fantastica). Prior to its inclusion in The Complete Works of Primo Levi, it first appeared in English under the title “Westward” in a translation by Raymond Rosenthal, as part of the collection The Sixth Day and Other Tales (New York: Summit Books, 1990, pp. 126-135, PDF).

The short story, merely half a dozen pages long, was written between 1967 and 1970, alongside 19 others short stories, all gathered in Vizio di forma (which translates into Flaw of Form, in English). It tells the story of two (presumed) scientists, Anna and Walter, as they observe and try to understand the behaviour of an “army of lemmings.” The small rodents make their way toward a beach and enter the water, only to drown or to be devoured by birds circling above. While the idea of lemmings inexplicably committing mass suicide is now considered a myth by the scientific community, it informes Levi’s short story through and through. Anna and Walter work hard to eliminate possible explanations for the phenomena. It is neither hunger nor overpopulation that drives the lemmings, they contend, but something more fundamental. The lemmings, Walter suggests, “actually want to die.” The pair decides to further investigate the situation in order to pinpoint the source of this dreadful behaviour. They wish to understand why these lemmings have lost the desire to live. The ultimate goal would be to synthetise a “hormone that inhibits existential emptiness.” Anna, for one, is uncertain about the value of such a “solution.”

While tests are being conducted, Walter and Anna make a trip to the Amazon river to visit an indigenous tribe known as the Arunde. The reason for their visit quickly becomes clear: the Arunde population has been experiencing a steady decline due to nothing else than “an inordinate number of suicides.” The village elder calmly explains that the Arunde “never held metaphysical convictions.” Furthermore, the Arunde “attributed little value to the survival of the individual, and none to the national survival.” Walter and Anna are told that suicide is an integral part of the Arunde’s way of life.

Upon returning to the ground where they are conducting their experiments with the lemmings, the two scientists learned that an hormone was indeed succesfully synthesized. Named “Factor L,” the hormone restores “the will to live.” It was subsequently detected in normal, healthy blood. However, it is discovered that the substance is absent from the blood of lemmings. Furthermore, Walter establishes that the substance is also absent from the blood of the Arunde. Walter first send a package of the substance to the Arunde, hoping to help them overcome their suicidal inclination. Not wanting to wait for their reply, he then proceeds to try to inoculate the lemmings by converting the substance into a gas. However, while standing in their path, he is quickly engulfed by the sheer size of the swarm. In the end, he can neither alter the course of the lemmings, nor escape death himself, which Anna witnesses from afar.

The short story ends with Anna receiving the package Walter had sent to the Arunde. It had been sent back with the following note:

“The Arunde people, soon no longer a people, send their regards and thank you. We do not wish to offend, but we are returning your medicine, so that those among you who might want to can profit from it. We prefer freedom to drugs and death to illusion.”

The Complete Works of Primo Levi provides some useful indications about the publication of the collection Vizio di forma. In an accompanying note, Domenico Scarpa offers a quick overview of the political situation in Italy, at the end of the sixties and the beginning of the seventies:

For Italy these were years of upheaval in society, in the economy, in politics, in public morality. “Sessantotto”—a date, 1968, written in letters—was the year of the student protests, while 1969 was marked by the union struggles of the so-called hot autumn and, just a little later, on December 12, in Milan, by a neo-Fascist act of terrorism: a bomb went off in a bank, leaving seventeen dead and eighty-eight wounded. Fears of a reactionary coup were widespread, and a period of extreme political tension began: what came to be called the “years of lead.”

Scarpa also offers an English translation of the text appearing on the jacket copy of the first edition from 1971. Scarpa hypothesises that while the text on the jacket is not signed, it was likely written by Primo Levi. It is worth noting how the text refuses to frame the collection as being solely pessimistic:

Will there be historians in the future—even, let’s say, in the next century? It’s not at all certain: mankind may have lost any interest in the past, preoccupied as it will surely be in sorting out the tangle of the future; or it may have lost the taste for works of the spirit in general, being focused uniquely on survival; or it may have ceased to exist. But, if there are historians, they will not devote much time to the Punic Wars, or the Crusades, or Waterloo, but will instead concentrate on this twentieth century, and, more specifically, the decade that has just begun.

It will be a unique decade. In the space of a few years, almost overnight, we’ve realized that something conclusive has happened, or is about to happen: like someone who, navigating on a calm river, suddenly observes that the banks are retreating backward, the water teeming with whirlpools, and hears the thunder of waterfalls close by. There is no indicator that is not soaring upward: the world population, DDT in the fat of penguins, carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, lead in our veins. While half the world is still waiting for the benefits of technology, the other half has touched lunar soil and is poisoned by the garbage that has accumulated in a decade: but there is no choice, we cannot return to Arcadia; by technology, and by that alone, can the planetary order be restored, the “flaw of form” repaired. Before the urgency of these problems, the political questions pale. This is the climate in which, literally or in spirit, the twenty stories by Primo Levi presented here take place. Beyond the veil of irony, it is close to that of his preceding books: we breathe an air of sadness but not hopelessness, of distrust in the present and, at the same time, considerable confidence in the future: man the maker of himself, inventor and unique possessor of reason, will be able to stop in time on his path “heading west.”

This commitment to acknowledge the dire historical situation while refusing to settle into a pessimistic and moribond mood is even further emphasized. While Scarpa indicates that the collection was initially to be titled Anti-Humanism, he also notes how Levi refused to succumb to sheer despair:

Levi declared that he was opposed to despair, which “is surely irrational: it resolves no problems, creates new ones, and is by its nature painful.” He continued, rather, to claim a “faith that I would call biological, that saturates every living fiber,” but at the same time he said of the language of his new stories that it is “a language that I feel is ironic, and that I perceive as strident, awry, spiteful, deliberately anti-poetic.”

Sixteen years later, in January 1987, Primo Levi wrote a letter to the editor Giulio Einaudi to accompany the second edition of the collection Vizio di forma. Simply titled “Lettera 1987” the letter once more comments on and provides nuance for the pessimistic visions expressed in the collection. The first part of the letter is reproduced below:

Dear Editor,

Your proposal to reprint Flaw of Form more than fifteen years after it was first published both saddens and cheers me. How can two such contradictory states of being exist together? I shall try to explain it both to you and to myself.

It saddens me because these are stories related to a time that was much sadder than the present, for Italy, for the world, and also for me. They are linked to an apocalyptic, pessimistic, and defeatist vision, the same one that inspired Roberto Vacca’s The Coming Dark Age. But the new Dark Age has not come: things haven’t fallen apart, and instead there are tentative signs of a world order based, if not on mutual respect, at least on mutual fear. Despite the terrorizing, if slumbering, arsenals, the fear of the “Dissipatio Humani Generis” (Guido Morselli), whether rightly or wrongly, has been subjectively attenuated. How things actually are, no one knows.

It’s worth noting that Primo Levi wrote this letter merely four month before his death, on April 11, 1987. While the death was originally ruled as a suicide (and considered as such by some of his biographers), more recent accounts lean toward an accidental death. See for instance the accounts by Diego Gambetta (“Primo Levi’s Last Moments” June 1, 1999) and Carlin Romano (“Primo Levi’s Work Outshines His Murky Death” Nov.-Dec. 2019).

On July 28, 2021, Italian philosopher Giorgio Agamben borrows from Primo Levi’s short story in one of his interventions regarding the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic (see previously here). Titled Uomini e lemmings,” the short comment suggests that human beings themselves might soon lost the will to live and, consequently, might be heading toward extension (or, in Levi’s own words, might be “heading west”)1. Agamben –leaning into the myth of lemmings committing mass suicide– makes no mention of the fact that similar (although not identical) diagnostics have been made throughout the 20th century by a number of authors (in no insignificant part driven by the explosion of two atomic bombs over Japan in 1945). Recall the last observations shared by Sigmund Freud in Civilization and its Discontent, first published in 1930:

The fateful question for the human species seems to me to be whether and to what extent their cultural development will succeed in mastering the disturbance of their communal life by the human instinct of aggression and self-destruction. It may be that in this respect precisely the present time deserves a special interest. Men have gained control over the forces of nature to such an extent that with their help they would have no difficulty in exterminating one another to the last man. They know this, and hence comes a large part of their current unrest, their unhappiness and their mood of anxiety. (tr. by James Strachey, New York: W.W. Norton&Company Inc., [1930] 1962, p. 92)

Prior to Civilization and its Discontent, Freud had borrowed from Sabina Spielrein’s theory about the intimate relation between destruction and life to develop his concept of Todestrieb or “death drive,” which was first laid out in 1920, in his book Jenseits des Lustprinzips (Beyond the Pleasure Principle). On the topic of madness and suicide, see previously here “On Madness” or “On Insanity” by Leo Tolstoy, 1910.

In 1958, science-fiction author Richard Matheson published a very short story titled “Lemmings”. It appears in the January issue of The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction (pp. 117-118, PDF; the entire issue is available here; the short story “Lemmings” was also collected in Steel and Other Stories, Tor, 2011, pp. 233-236). Richard Matheson is best known for his 1954 novel I Am Legend and for his 1956 novel The Shrinking Man. In his short story, Matheson also borrows from the myth of lemmings committing mass suicide in order to comment on the capacity for humans to self-annihiliate. In her essay “Who Killed All the Humans,” Amy S. Jorgensen offers the following interpretation:

Instead of nuclear bombs annihilating the world’s population as one might expect, the end of the human race comes from mass suicides affecting the entire population over the course of a week. In a real sense, the story’s human population is the source of its own destruction. In the real world, humans had created hydrogen bombs capable of killing millions and possessed the power to launch the bombs’ destructive capabilities. The mass suicide of the humans in “Lemmings,” therefore, serves as a metaphor for the massive destruction brought about by human hands.” (in Reading Richard Matheson: A Critical Survey, ed. by Cheyenne Mathews and Janet V. Haedicke, New York: Rowman & Littlefield, 2014, pp. 75-76).

Also interesting to explore are the possible parallels between Primo Levi’s short story and a short story published by Agamben in 1964: Decadenza. Both “Decadenza” and “Verso occidente” were written by Italian authors during a period of great political upheaval in Italy. Both titles evoke the idea of “decline” (“occidente” being from occidere, meaning “fall down, go down”: indeed, the place where the sun goes to set and to disappear). Finally –although this is not by any mean an exhaustive account of their points of contact, nor of their differences– both are science fiction fables centred on animal populations facing inexplicable extinction.

Drawing of Norway lemmings
“Norway Lemming, Lemmus lemmus L. 1/2 natural size.” Brehms Tierleben, Small Edition 1927. Retrieved from Wikimedia Commons. Public domain.

• • •

1.There is one other mention of lemmings in Agamben’s opus, although indirect. In Remnants of Auschwitz: The Witness and the Archive, Agamben uses the following quote from Gitta Sereny’s book Into That Darkness: An Examination of Conscience (New York: Random House, [1974]1983):

“They were so weak; they let themselves do anything. They were people with whom there was no common ground, no possibility of communication — this is where the contempt came from. I just couldn’t imagine how they could give in like that. Recently I read a book on winter rabbits, who every five or six years throw themselves into the sea to die; it made me think of Treblinka”

In the 1983 edition of Sereny’s book quoted by Agamben, this excerpt appears on page 313. In the English edition of Remnants of Auschwitz the quote can be found on pages 78-79. Worth noting how Daniel Heller-Roazen uses “winter rabbits” instead of “lemmings”. He is likely following the Italian edition Quel che resta Auschwitz (1998) where “conigli delle nevi” is used, most likely because Agamben is referring to the Italian translation of Sereny’s book In Tuelle tenebre (Milano: Adelphi 1994). If one were to examine the English edition from 1983, the quote reads as follow. It is also very important to note that the quote does not come from Sereny herself, but is rather attributed to Franz Stangl, a Kommandant of the Nazi extermination camps Sobibor and Treblinka, whom Sereny was interviewing:

“It has nothing to do with hate. They were so weak; they allowed everything to happen – to be done to them. They were people with whom there was no common ground, no possibility of communication – that is how contempt is born. I could never understand how they could just give in as they did. Quite recently I read a book about lemmings, who every five or six years just wander into the sea and die; that made me think of Treblinka.” (New York: Random House, [1974]1983, pp. 233) ↩︎︎

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