The Play of Light

Jacques Roubaud, Emmanuel Hocquard, and Friends

By Ann Smock

Subjects: Literary Criticism, Poetry, Literary Theory, Continental Philosophy, French Studies
Series: SUNY series, Literature . . . in Theory
Paperback : 9781438481500, 240 pages, July 2021
Hardcover : 9781438481494, 240 pages, February 2021

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Table of contents


Introduction: Varieties of Light

1. "Thy blackness is a spark"

2. "Birth was the death of him"

3. Palindromes

4. Beware of Enigmas

5. Is This a Dream?

6. Interlude: All and Nothing

7. Fin' Amors

8. Diaphanous

9. Entre Deux


Juxtaposes five contemporary French poets, illuminating the philosophical elements of their work while making their sometimes difficult writing newly accessible.


Drawing from five contemporary French poets—Jacques Roubaud, Emmanuel Hocquard, Danielle Collobert, Anne Portugal, and Jacques Jouet—Ann Smock juxtaposes them and provides a milieu suitable for philosophical reflection on identity, on not-being and being, on communication, and on secrets. Smock also includes thinkers such as Ludwig Wittgenstein and Giorgio Agamben, who contribute to the conversation, as do Jean-Luc Nancy and Maurice Blanchot. Though the poems considered here are often thought difficult, Smock maintains a light touch throughout. She writes in an accessible, even pleasurable style while contributing to the scholarly study of literature at the border shared by poetry and philosophy

Ann Smock is Professor Emerita of French at the University California, Berkeley. She is the author of What Is There to Say? and Double Dealing.