This article investigates the philosophical implications intrinsic to writing that expressly uses constraints and that thereby intentionally limits an author's freedom. Constrained writing imposes formal conditions and strictures as a response to the existential angst—aesthetic as well as ethical—generated by the now maximally open field of contemporary writing. Looking specifically at the work of such writers as Jacques Roubaud and Jacques Jouet, this article shows how dialectical thinking underwrites the poetics of constrained writing and reads such poetics as enacting philosophical, and more specifically Hegelian, values.

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