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Tom Bishop, Donatien Grau: Literature Is a Voyage of Discovery

Tom Bishop, Donatien Grau

Literature Is a Voyage of Discovery
Tom Bishop in Conversation with Donatien Grau

Translated by Peter Behrman de Sinéty

Softcover, 96 pages

PDF, 96 pages



For over sixty years Tom Bishop has contributed to shaping the literary, philosophical, cultural, artistic, but also political conversation between Paris and New York. In his position as professor and director of the Center for French Civilization and Culture at New York University, he made the Washington Square institution one of the great bridges between French innovation and a New York scene that was then in full transformation. Tom Bishop was close to Beckett, championed Robbe-Grillet in the United States, befriended Marguerite Duras and Hélène Cixous, organized historic public encounters—such as the one between James Baldwin and Toni Morrison. He is also a scholar, a recognized specialist in the avant-garde, notably the Nouveau Roman and the Nouveau Théâtre.

In 2012, he invited Donatien Grau to give a talk at NYU. This invitation led to conversations—some of which are assembled in this book—and a frienship. Tom Bishop retraces his own history: his departure from Vienna, his studies, his meetings, his choices, his conception of literature and life, his relationship to the political and economic world; the way he helped define the profession of “curator” as it is practiced today. In these interviews he can be seen as a scholar, an organizer, a major intellectual; as an individual, with his anger, refusals, loyalty, his insatiable appetite for discovery and novelty, and his deep attachment to the university, a place of freedom and creation.

  • 7–20

    First Takes

  • 21–38

    What Happend to the Avant-garde?

  • 39–87


  • 89–93


  • USA
  • literary studies
  • France
  • avant-garde
  • Modernism
  • literature

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Tom Bishop

Tom Bishop

born in 1929 in Vienna, lives and works in New York. He has 
been a professor at New York University for sixty-five years. For nearly 
fifty years he directed the university's Center for French Literature 
and Civilization, which he made into a crucial venue for French 
intellectual life in New York. As a self-described "ocean ferryman," a 
friend and fellow traveler of Samuel Beckett, Hélène Cixous, Eugène 
Ionesco, Alain Robbe-Grillet, and many others, he built a bridge between 
the worlds of literature, philosophy, and art, as well as politics and 
economics, between New York and Paris. His work as a scholar, essayist 
and curator has allowed many encounters between creative figures, 
scholars and cultural leaders.
Donatien Grau

Donatien Grau

is a scholar and author. He currently serves as head of contemporary programs at the Louvre and as chair of the Association Pierre Guyotat.
Other texts by Donatien Grau for DIAPHANES