The Space of Literature: Echoes of Blanchot and Beckett’s Explorations of Creativity in Danielewski’s House of Leaves

Lucia Esposito


In Mark Danielewski’s experimental novel House of Leaves (2000), space is a crucial concern. Yet, as this paper will argue, space seems less to do with geographical, political, or socio-cultural factors, and more to do with what French writer and critic Maurice Blanchot calls the ‘space of literature’ – the ineffable place of origin of any work of art. In House of Leaves, a mysterious and ever-shifting labyrinth is unexpectedly found inside and below a house, which causes extreme feelings of disorientation and discomfort to anyone who enters it. This strange place of the story seems particularly identifiable with Blanchot’s space: a space of impossible geography, of blackness, and nothingness. However, since the voice of art speaks solely from here, the artist must necessarily engage with its perturbing discovery to be able to create. Not only does the novel evoke Blanchot’s view, it strikingly echoes other similar musings on the workings of literature, such as those put forward by Samuel Beckett, whose presence in the text is also tangible.


Danielewski; Blanchot; Beckett; literary space; labyrinth; nothing

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