Michel Foucault’s “Standing Vigil for the Day to Come” was a review of Roger Laporte’s novel, La Veille, published by Gallimard earlier that year. Although Laporte’s work never received the wide readership it deserved, Foucault held it in high esteem, praising it in his assessment as one of the “most original” and “most difficult” of his time and, subsequently, urging Derrida to read it. This article is most appropriately situated in the series of literary reviews Foucault composed between 1961 and 1966, in which his marked attempts to understand the relationship between language and thought drew him to the works of Roussel, Klossowski, Hölderlin, Mallarmé, and, of course, Laporte. Foucault finds Laporte’s treatment of the subject-matter particularly satisfying because it provides a non-reductive account of thought and its relationship to language; thought is neither identical with nor distinct from language. Foucault sees Laporte as relying on an important Nietzschean insight that thought is both too fundamental and too archaic to be reduced to philosophy or to require a Cartesian ego. In this way La Veille is naturally of interest to Foucault because it deals with the relationship of a writer to an anonymous other; it is this other — not the writer — that makes writing possible. With the role of the subject de-emphasized, Foucault finds in Laporte a starting point for talking about language in contemporary literature and thought in post Cartesian philosophy.
Harvey, Robert and Woodward, Elise, "Translation: "Standing Vigil for the Day to Come" by Michel Foucault" (2015). Cultural Studies and Comparative Literature Faculty Publications. 1.