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By Roger Caillois

Cet ouvrage est une étude des principaux problèmes posés par los angeles littérature : l. a. littérature dans los angeles société, los angeles littérature devant l. a. morale, los angeles littérature et le langage. Il est né d'une réflexion sur l'évolution des Lettres depuis le romantisme, sur l'état de paroxysme où elles se plaisent, sur l. a. sorte de fureur destructrice où elles se consument présentement. Mais cette enquête (ou, si l'on veut, ce réquisitoire) n'est pas seulement une mise en reason - esthétique, morale et sociologique - de l. a. littérature contemporaine, elle s'ouvre à los angeles fin en une manière de traité des fins dernières de los angeles littérature.

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People sometimes grant the title of literature to works which are finely but not self-consciously written, rather than simply to those which are verbally self-regarding. They may see an economy and lucidity of language, or a certain sinewy plainness, as more admirable than a bristling thicket of exotic tropes. Fine writing, like good manners, may be thought to involve a certain self-effacing unobtrusiveness – though if it becomes understated enough, as with Roland Barthes’s ‘degree zero’ writing, it becomes obtrusive once more.

Indd 23 05/03/12 2:59 PM T H E E V E N T O F L I T E R AT U R E We have seen that from a family-resemblance viewpoint there is no need for every object we call a work of art to display the same property or set of properties. There will be a criss-crossing and overlapping of such features. Yet to arrive at a definition of art as such, it must be possible to specify which of these common features are taken to be constitutive of the class itself; and the fact is that art is made up of too amorphous a set of objects for this to be done with any great plausibility.

Both temporally and spatially, it points beyond itself. And this capacity to proliferate is part of what puts the conservative on guard. Relations, as Henry James remarks, stop nowhere. indd 27 05/03/12 2:59 PM T H E E V E N T O F L I T E R AT U R E of literariness which ends up questioning that whole prevailing orthodoxy, inaugurating in avant-garde fashion not simply a new artefact but a new version of art itself. A good deal of critical controversy and interpretive labour are involved in establishing what is to count in any given context as fictional, valuable, richly figurative, non-pragmatic and morally significant.

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