Exhausted literature: work, action, and the dilemmas of literary commitment
This article examines Jean-Paul Sartre's concept of committed literature as a manifestation of the tendency in Western modernity of conceiving literature as a form of praxis anchored in work. Discussing an alternative idea of engagement formulated by Maurice Blanchot, Roland Barthes, and Albert Camus, the essay develops a notion of exhausted literature that questions the prioritization of work and action in predominant models of commitment. Exhaustion is proposed as a politically and ethically motivated literary strategy of suspending the group-forming morality which, as a product of modern valorization of work and action, has accompanied literature of verisimilitude, activity, and oriented time. © 2013 The Johns Hopkins University Press.