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Michel Leiris
Writing the Self


Part of Cambridge Studies in French

  • Date Published: April 2006
  • availability: Available
  • format: Paperback
  • isbn: 9780521026024

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About the Authors
  • This is the first full-length study in English of Michel Leiris's work. Frequently cited as a central figure in contemporary French culture, Leiris was an outstanding writer whose double career as ethnographer and creative writer places him at important points of intersection within French cultural history. Seán Hand explores Leiris's active participation in some of the most striking intellectual and artistic movements of the twentieth century: surrealism in the twenties, ethnography in the thirties and existentialism in the forties. Hand locates his writing in these different contexts in relation to the major artistic, political and philosophical concepts of the period. He goes on to argue that Leiris's multi-volume autobiography La Règle du jeu stands as the model form of self-enquiry in the twentieth century. More broadly, Hand explores Leiris's continuing obsession with the notion of 'presence'. Informed by recent critical theories, Hand offers a multi disciplinary approach to this intriguing writer.

    • First full-length study of Leiris in English
    • Reveals a writer who is seen, increasingly, as a central figure in twentieth-century French writing
    • Interdisciplinary study, drawing on recent critical theoretical work
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    Reviews & endorsements

    'This is the first in-depth study in English of Michel Leiris's work, and it offers a well organised and penetrating analysis of all the aspects of this unusual writer.' Modern & Contemporary France

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    Product details

    • Date Published: April 2006
    • format: Paperback
    • isbn: 9780521026024
    • length: 276 pages
    • dimensions: 229 x 151 x 15 mm
    • weight: 0.408kg
    • contains: 4 b/w illus.
    • availability: Available
  • Table of Contents

    Introduction: the deaths of Michel Leiris
    Part I. Texts and Contexts:
    1. Unities and identities: Leiris and surrealism
    2. Recasting the self: from surrealism to ethnography
    3. Autobiographical frameworks: from ethnography to L'Age d'homme
    4. Positional play: La Règle du jeu
    5. Secreting the self: Journal 1922–1989
    Part II. The Quest for Presence in La Règle du jeu:
    6. Excess of joy: the beginnings of presence in '… Reusement!'
    7. Organs of learning: sensing presence in Biffures
    8. The act of union: being-in-the-world in La Règle du jeu
    9. Thanatography: non-being as the limit of autobiography
    Conclusion: locating Leiris

  • Author

    Seán Hand, Oxford Brookes University
    Seán Hand is Professor of French and Head of the School of Languages at Oxford Brookes University. He has published on Derrida, psychoanalysis, and contemporary French writing.

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