The Writer’s Vocation
Marc Crépon has headed the Philosophy Department of the Ecole Normale Supérieure since 2011. He is the author of some ten works, including La Culture de la peur (2 vols. 2008 and 2010) and Le Consentement meurtrier (2012). His main research interests are war and violence.
From earliest childhood we all know how violent, unfair, even inflexible, language can be — particularly when we have to confront our parents’ or schoolteachers’ anger.
In an introduction that is both epic in its scope and personal, the philosopher Marc Crépon delves into his own past, from his earliest, most traumatic childhood memories to the discovery of the horrors of the 20th century, and shows that violence never leaves language unscathed. In this book, he examines the impact of the experience of violence on language.
Exploring the works of Kafka, Hannah Arendt, Levinas, Celan, Imre Kertész, Isaac Bashevis Singer, Mandelstam, W.G. Sebald and Derrida, the author points out that they were all written following a period when language was subjected to extreme violence, not in an abstract manner but in an effort to hinder its very expression.
Literature and philosophy came together in these works not just to bear witness but also to fight and resist. In their own singular way, these works, written in difficult, challenging times, are our most effective recourse in responding to the violence of our own time.