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The Paul De Man Notebooks$
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Paul de Man and Martin McQuillan

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9780748641048

Published to Edinburgh Scholarship Online: September 2015

DOI: 10.3366/edinburgh/9780748641048.001.0001

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The Drawings of Paul Valéry (1948)

The Drawings of Paul Valéry (1948)

(p.25) 1 The Drawings of Paul Valéry (1948)
The Paul De Man Notebooks

Richard Howard

Edinburgh University Press

In this 1948 essay, originally published in French and translated in English by Richard Howard, Paul de Man talks about the drawings of Paul Valéry. According to de Man, Valéry, despite being ‘an amateur of intellectual experiments conducted in a vacuum’, reveals a certain penchant for ‘visual pleasures’ and even, on occasion, surrenders to them. Valéry does not resist what he sees but steeps himself in it and, to gain satisfaction, clings to the form of bodies — exact, conclusive, molded by light. No sooner does an object encounter his gaze than Valéry reduces it from the definite and the sufficient to the possible. His thought necessarily circles round several themes and these repetitions, his conscious reprises, deepen and renew them. Valéry was neither a painter nor an artist in the sense in which these words are usually understood. But drawing obsessed him, and throughout his life he continued to be concerned with the problem of painting.

Keywords:   Paul de Man, drawings, Paul Valéry, painting

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