“Jankélévitch’s works,” Arnold Davidson writes, are characterized “by his
inimitable style of writing, his invention of a vocabulary, and a rhythm
of prose whose texture is a perpetual challenge for any translator to try
to capture.”
This is true of Henri Bergson in more ways than one. Its re-
composition for the second edition of 1959—on which this translation is
based— combines a very early treatise with a text in which Jankélévitch has
found his voice. It brings together a reenactment of Bergson’s philosophy
in an often breathless current with a melodic interweaving of motifs. Yet it
also implies the occasional disparity. This is a stylistic matter, but concerns
documentation, for example, as well. Our goal in editing and translating
the texts included in this volume, which comprises nearly all of Janké-
lévitch’s writings on Bergson,2 has thus been twofold: on the one hand, to
remain close to the text with its idiosyncrasies and, on the other, to make
it as accessible as possi ble to a wider audience without intimate knowl-
edge of Ancient Greek, Latin, Rus sian, and German (languages in which
Jankélévitch not only quotes but in which he even writes on occasion)
and who may not have the wide- ranging philosophical knowledge (to
mention but one field) Jankélévitch seems to presuppose in his readers
but in fact may have been one of the few to possess.
We have, therefore, retained Jankélévitch’s capitalization, punctua-
tion, and so forth, wherever doing so does not contravene American usage
outright. That said, we have adapted the use of tenses, for example, and
changed what would appear in En glish as incomplete sentences by supple-
menting subjects and verbs, by dropping prepositions (where warranted),
or by combining sentences. More often, however, we have broken up
sentences, as Jankélévitch uses semicolons the way others use periods.
Further, suspension points (...) are a central rhetorical device for him,
and distinct from ellipses ( . . . ). To reveal the structure of Jankélévitch’s
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