What is "the Book?" Theology and philosophy have traditionally postulated the metaphysical precedence of orality and considered literacy as a subsequent, historical turning point: one day, an original logos "came down" and "enclosed itself" inside the Book. The "community of the Book" has continued to read and write within the epistemological boundaries of this first inscription.
Literature has increasingly disengaged the Book from this logocentric foundation. Modern writers have even postulated the philosophical priority of "being in the Book" (Jabes) and redefined logos as one phase of writing (Derrida). Simultaneously, they have attempted to describe the "outside" of the Book: not as logos or truth, but as the endless, meaningless murmur of words which Blanchot calls "rumeur." Rumor, not unlike logos, is yet another form of writing inscribing exteriority within the Book in a complex textual strategy which Nancy calls "excription."
Writing may then be defined as the production of an oscillating limit ("&") between an inscribed livre and an "excribed" parole.
Exergue: Rumeur. Blanchot's rumeur, Beckett's voix, Serres's noise, Bonnefoy's parole, as well as John's logos en arche are extreme cases of textual "excription."
Introduction. Critical review of speech/writing theories.
Chapter 1: Sacre/Le Livre & la Parole. In Exodus, Ezechiel, John, Koran, and Dogon myth, the divine Word "descends" into the Book, forming an ethical community.
Chapter 2: Cycle/Le Livre & le Monde. The closed figure of the Book is projected onto the indefinite spaces of world (Dante, Koyre), mind (Rorty) and episteme (Foucault, Diderot, Hegel, Novalis).
Chapter 3: Modernite/La Litterature & le Livre. Jewish Kabbalah (Isaac the Blind, Zohar) offers a grammatocentric counterpoint which has influenced modern definitions of "Book" (Mallarme, Jabes, Derrida). Logocentric metaphysics undergoes serious alterations as the figure of the Book "melts" into literature (Rabelais, Cyrano, Voltaire, Valery).
Conclusion. What generates the fragile delineation between livre and parole is an insatiable desir de l'ecrire (Bourjea).