What is at stake in literature? Can we identify the fire that our stories have lost, but that they strive, at all costs, to rediscover? And what is the philosopher's stone that writers, with the passion of alchemists, struggle to forge in their word furnaces? For Giorgio Agamben, who suggests that the parable is the secret model of all narrative, every act of creation tenaciously resists creation, thereby giving each work its strength and grace. The ten essays brought together here cover works by figures ranging from Aristotle to Paul Klee and illustrate what urgently drives Agamben's current research. As is often the case with his writings, their especial focus is the mystery of literature, of reading and writing, and of language as a laboratory for conceiving an ethico-political perspective that places us beyond sovereign power.