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1

World Lite

What is Global Literature?

3
terms
4
notes

, n. (2013). World Lite. n+1, 17, pp. 1-16

6

In the more recent fiction of a pacified Europe, a smooth EU-niversality prevails in place of the old strife within and between countries. Handke, such a late modernist that the party appears to have ended, is an Austrian who lives in Paris; but can you regularly identify the city or country his peripatetic characters are passing through, metafictional preoccupations in train? Much of the postwar European fiction, some of it very good, that we might read as World Literature — Perec, Bernhard, Nádas, Nooteboom, Jelinek, Marías, Sebald, now Knausgård — is extremely psychological in character and only vestigially social and geographical. Typically the narrator is a monologist, resembling the author, who tells of personal turmoil amid social stasis. He recognizes himself, with snobbish self-approbation, as a part of a stable polyglot pan-European elite; most other inhabitants of his country, as of the neighboring ones, are unthreatening idiots who turn on the TV after returning from work. The younger ones take drugs and dance to club music on weekends; the older ones go on package tours before dying of cancer. Nietzschean last men (and women), they can be roused neither to the self-promotion nor to the gun violence that lend spice to American life. Their tribune is Michel Houellebecq. Other big-name European novelists write books about personal relationships and international culture, and not much in between. Resigned to terminal minorness, this is a European novel written by, about, and for literary people who attain a critical mass only at the Frankfurt Book Fair, and then without taking the opportunity to riot against the European Central Bank. Many suicides occur in its pages. The wonder is there aren’t more.

dont fully get this but i enjoyed it

—p.6 by n+1 3 months, 2 weeks ago

In the more recent fiction of a pacified Europe, a smooth EU-niversality prevails in place of the old strife within and between countries. Handke, such a late modernist that the party appears to have ended, is an Austrian who lives in Paris; but can you regularly identify the city or country his peripatetic characters are passing through, metafictional preoccupations in train? Much of the postwar European fiction, some of it very good, that we might read as World Literature — Perec, Bernhard, Nádas, Nooteboom, Jelinek, Marías, Sebald, now Knausgård — is extremely psychological in character and only vestigially social and geographical. Typically the narrator is a monologist, resembling the author, who tells of personal turmoil amid social stasis. He recognizes himself, with snobbish self-approbation, as a part of a stable polyglot pan-European elite; most other inhabitants of his country, as of the neighboring ones, are unthreatening idiots who turn on the TV after returning from work. The younger ones take drugs and dance to club music on weekends; the older ones go on package tours before dying of cancer. Nietzschean last men (and women), they can be roused neither to the self-promotion nor to the gun violence that lend spice to American life. Their tribune is Michel Houellebecq. Other big-name European novelists write books about personal relationships and international culture, and not much in between. Resigned to terminal minorness, this is a European novel written by, about, and for literary people who attain a critical mass only at the Frankfurt Book Fair, and then without taking the opportunity to riot against the European Central Bank. Many suicides occur in its pages. The wonder is there aren’t more.

dont fully get this but i enjoyed it

—p.6 by n+1 3 months, 2 weeks ago

a sudden, vigorous, or aggressive act or series of acts

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the Iranian revolution - itself a salvo against cultural globalization

different from salve lol

—p.7 by n+1
confirm
3 months, 2 weeks ago

the Iranian revolution - itself a salvo against cultural globalization

different from salve lol

—p.7 by n+1
confirm
3 months, 2 weeks ago

(adjective) involving or accomplished with careful perseverance / (adjective) diligent in application or pursuit

9

Insurrectionary Gordimer has given way to the the sedulously horrified Coetzee

still not comfortable enough to use it on my own but now I def know what it means

—p.9 by n+1
notable
3 months, 2 weeks ago

Insurrectionary Gordimer has given way to the the sedulously horrified Coetzee

still not comfortable enough to use it on my own but now I def know what it means

—p.9 by n+1
notable
3 months, 2 weeks ago

(noun) sustained and bitter railing and condemnation; vituperative utterance / (noun) an act or instance of vituperating

11

Across the hall, the purely academic panels in the 1980s were, for better or worse, more vituperative.

—p.11 by n+1
notable
3 months, 2 weeks ago

Across the hall, the purely academic panels in the 1980s were, for better or worse, more vituperative.

—p.11 by n+1
notable
3 months, 2 weeks ago
12

[...] Rushdie emerged from the fatwa a damaged writer, his puns reflexes, his recourse to myth and fable showing signs of hackery. He took to appearing onstage with U2, grinning with Bono under the suspended Trabants of their Zooropa tour. To view him now — witty but humorless, soft and thick with moneyed confidence — is to view a wreck. The books are soft, too; the reviewers’ knives don’t even need sharpening. Rushdie himself reviewed Naipaul’s latest in 1987, for the Guardian: “I think it was Borges who said that in a riddle to which the answer is knife, the only word that cannot be employed is knife. There is one word I can find nowhere in the text of The Enigma of Arrival. That word is ‘love.’” For Rushdie, this made the book “very, very sad.” There’s something in this: if later Rushdie seems estranged from earlier Rushdie, the sadness, the lovelessness, he rightly identified in Naipaul’s work comes from Naipaul’s persistent implication that the only legitimate escape from “half-made” postcolonial countries is to become V. S. Naipaul.

damn

—p.12 by n+1 3 months, 2 weeks ago

[...] Rushdie emerged from the fatwa a damaged writer, his puns reflexes, his recourse to myth and fable showing signs of hackery. He took to appearing onstage with U2, grinning with Bono under the suspended Trabants of their Zooropa tour. To view him now — witty but humorless, soft and thick with moneyed confidence — is to view a wreck. The books are soft, too; the reviewers’ knives don’t even need sharpening. Rushdie himself reviewed Naipaul’s latest in 1987, for the Guardian: “I think it was Borges who said that in a riddle to which the answer is knife, the only word that cannot be employed is knife. There is one word I can find nowhere in the text of The Enigma of Arrival. That word is ‘love.’” For Rushdie, this made the book “very, very sad.” There’s something in this: if later Rushdie seems estranged from earlier Rushdie, the sadness, the lovelessness, he rightly identified in Naipaul’s work comes from Naipaul’s persistent implication that the only legitimate escape from “half-made” postcolonial countries is to become V. S. Naipaul.

damn

—p.12 by n+1 3 months, 2 weeks ago
13

WORLD LITERATURE, in the form gestured at by Goethe and now canonized by the academy, has become an empty vessel for the occasional self-ratification of the global elite, who otherwise mostly ignore it. If an earlier World Literature arose in the four decades after World War II to challenge northern narratives of the south, these days writers from outside the rich countries don’t seem afflicted by white writing in the same way, not when titles like Mohsin Hamid’s How to Get Filthy Rich in Rising Asia (2013) are being published. The contemporary phase is different, less contentious. Today’s World Lit is more like a Davos summit where experts, national delegates, and celebrities discuss, calmly and collegially, between sips of bottled water, the terrific problems of a humanity whose predicament they appear to have escaped.

—p.13 by n+1 3 months, 2 weeks ago

WORLD LITERATURE, in the form gestured at by Goethe and now canonized by the academy, has become an empty vessel for the occasional self-ratification of the global elite, who otherwise mostly ignore it. If an earlier World Literature arose in the four decades after World War II to challenge northern narratives of the south, these days writers from outside the rich countries don’t seem afflicted by white writing in the same way, not when titles like Mohsin Hamid’s How to Get Filthy Rich in Rising Asia (2013) are being published. The contemporary phase is different, less contentious. Today’s World Lit is more like a Davos summit where experts, national delegates, and celebrities discuss, calmly and collegially, between sips of bottled water, the terrific problems of a humanity whose predicament they appear to have escaped.

—p.13 by n+1 3 months, 2 weeks ago
14

A developed internationalist literature would superficially resemble the globalized World Lit of today in being read by and written for people in different countries, and in its emphasis on translation (and, better yet, on reading foreign languages). But there would be a few crucial differences. The internationalist answer to the riddle of World Lit — of its unsatisfactoriness — lies in words never associated with it. These include project, opposition, and, most embarrassingly, truth. Global Lit tends to accept as given the tastes of an international middlebrow audience; internationalism, by contrast, seeks to create the taste by which it is to be enjoyed. The difference, crudely, is between a product and a project. An internationalist literary project, whether mainly aesthetic (as for modernism) or mainly political (as for the left) or both aesthetic and political, isn’t likely to be very clearly defined, but the presence or absence of such a project will be felt in what we read, write, translate, and publish.

The project can only be one of opposition to prevailing tastes, ways of writing, and politics. Global Lit, defined more by a set of institutions than a convergence of projects, treats literature as a self-evident autonomous good, as if some standard of literary excellence could be isolated from what writers have to say and how they say it. In its toothless ecumenicalism, Global Lit necessarily lacks any oppositional project of form (as, again, international modernism did) or of content (as international socialism did); the globally literary content themselves with the notion that merely to write or read “literary” books is to enlist, aesthetically and politically, on the side of the angels.

—p.14 by n+1 3 months, 2 weeks ago

A developed internationalist literature would superficially resemble the globalized World Lit of today in being read by and written for people in different countries, and in its emphasis on translation (and, better yet, on reading foreign languages). But there would be a few crucial differences. The internationalist answer to the riddle of World Lit — of its unsatisfactoriness — lies in words never associated with it. These include project, opposition, and, most embarrassingly, truth. Global Lit tends to accept as given the tastes of an international middlebrow audience; internationalism, by contrast, seeks to create the taste by which it is to be enjoyed. The difference, crudely, is between a product and a project. An internationalist literary project, whether mainly aesthetic (as for modernism) or mainly political (as for the left) or both aesthetic and political, isn’t likely to be very clearly defined, but the presence or absence of such a project will be felt in what we read, write, translate, and publish.

The project can only be one of opposition to prevailing tastes, ways of writing, and politics. Global Lit, defined more by a set of institutions than a convergence of projects, treats literature as a self-evident autonomous good, as if some standard of literary excellence could be isolated from what writers have to say and how they say it. In its toothless ecumenicalism, Global Lit necessarily lacks any oppositional project of form (as, again, international modernism did) or of content (as international socialism did); the globally literary content themselves with the notion that merely to write or read “literary” books is to enlist, aesthetically and politically, on the side of the angels.

—p.14 by n+1 3 months, 2 weeks ago