To persist in paying attention to genres may seem to be a vain if not anachronistic pastime today. We all know that genres used to exist: in the good old days of classicism there were ballads, odes, sonnets, tragedies, and comedies; but do these exist today? Even the genres of the nineteenth century, poetry or novel (and these are no longer quite genres in our eyes), seem to be coming undone, at least in the literature 'that counts'. As Maurice Blanchot said of the undeniably modem Hermann Brach, 'like many other writers of our time, he has been subject to that impetuous pressure of literature that no longer recognises the distinction between genres and seeks to destroy their limits'.l

The book is the only thing that matters, the book as it is, far from genres, outside of the categorical subdivisions - prose, poetry, novel, document - in which it refuses to lodge and to which it denies the power of establishing its place and determining its form. A book no longer belongs to a genre; every book stems from literature alone, as if literature held in advance, in their generality, the secrets and the formulas that alone make it possible to give to what is written the reality of a book. It would thus be as though, the genres having faded away, literature were asserting itself alone in the mysterious clarity that it propagates and that each literary creation sends back, multiplied - as if, then, there were an 'essence' of literature.2