Anthologizing World Literature in Translation: Global/Local/Glocal.
With the mention of the West-Eastern Divan of 1819, we have at the same time also arrived at the second issue, that of translation. In fact, translation is at the very root of Weltliteratur, because Eckermann also reports that Goethe first thought of the very concept as an immediate result of his reading of a number of Chinese novels in translation. That I found it necessary to also quote the 1828 passage in the original German in order to avoid any misunderstanding because of translation issues only underscores the point. At the same time, the issue of translation also immediately foregrounds the relationship between the global and the local. The process of translation involves turning an "original" or "local" source text into a target text using another "local" language. As such, translation makes the original more widely accessible, albeit not without necessarily changing it. If the target language is a "world language" or lingua franca, as is presently the case with English, as previously with French, the text in question potentially becomes "globally" accessible.
For Goethe himself, it is now generally agreed that Weltliteratur covered the rapidly increasing exchange of literary goods and ideas among Europe's intellectuals at the close of the Napoleonic era. Very quickly, however, and especially in academic parlance, the term came to stand for either all of the world's literature(s), present, past and future, or for a canon of the best of the world's literature or literatures. The former concept gave rise to a series of histories of world literature, perhaps better referred to as world histories of literature, at first primarily in Germany and later also in the Scandinavian countries and elsewhere. The latter concept became especially relevant when it came to actually devising courses in world literature, requiring handbooks and anthologies on the subject. The latter problem posed itself particularly urgently in the United States, where, especially from the end of the First World War, courses in world literature, under varying denominations but in practice covering much the same material, became institutionalized as part of undergraduate curricula. Given the inevitable linguistic limitations of American undergraduates, the materials included in these anthologies were of necessity given in translation.
It is against this background that Richard Green Moulton, an English academic working in the US, at the University of Chicago, published World Literature and Its Place in General Culture, the first book-length publication on the subject in English, in 1911. For Moulton, "whatever of universal literature [by which he means all literature from all the world, actually close to the French usage of litterature universelle], coming from whatever source, has been appropriated by our English civilization, and made a part of our English culture, that is to us World Literature" (297). Building on Matthew Arnold's ideas about the Hellenic and Hebraic origins of European civilization as well as upon then-current theories about the linguistic and racial relationships of Europeans, and especially the English, to the rest of the world's peoples, Moulton divides the world's literatures into a number of categories dependent upon their relevance to the literatures of the "English-speaking peoples" at the beginning of the twentieth century. In a general introduction, Moulton first singles out the two "civilizations" that he saw as directly feeding into the culture of the English-speaking peoples via their Hebraic and Hellenic components: the "Semitic" and "Aryan" civilizations. Frrom these. he includes a number of works or authors for discussion: the Quran, the Arabian Nights, and Omar Khayyam. Next, he lists as "extraneous" civilizations, such as the Chinese and Japanese, that he deems not to have had any influence upon English literary culture, and whom consequently he does not discuss at all. In his next to last chapter, Moulton draws a parallel between national literature and world literature in the sense that if national literature is, as "is generally recognized" (429), a reflection of the national history of the country in question, so "World Literature is autobiography in the sense that it is the presentation of civilization in its best products, its most significant moments emphasized as they appear illuminated with the highest literary setting" (437). Precisely because it is the "Autobiography of Civilization," their civilization, Moulton argues in his "Conclusion" that world literature should be part of American students' general education, "not to be considered as an option that may be taken late, but as an essential in the foundation stage of education, part of the common body of knowledge which makes the election of optional studies intelligent" (447).
Courses that went by the label "World Literature" and that resembled what Moulton had had in mind were pioneered in the late 1920s by Philo Buck, professor of comparative literature at the University of Wisconsin. Sarah Lawall labels Buck's 1934 Anthology of World Literature, based on his class teachings, "the first singlevolume academic anthology to attempt global scope" (59-60), comprised of a multitude of shorter works and passages from longer works in an effort to achieve some representative historical and geographical coverage. Still, Buck, as Moulton had advocated, focused on the European tradition, while including some Indian, Persian, and Arab materials while, again like Moulton, excluding works from China and Japan on the grounds that their "vital influence upon the European tradition has been negligible or very recent" (Buck v). In later editions, he did add some Chinese works.
As early as 1940, Albert Guerard, French-born but professionally active in the US, and more specifically at Stanford, lamented in his Preface to World Literature that in what commonly passed as the canon of world literature, "the East is woefully under-represented" (34). In other words, Guerard said, "the term World Literature is an obvious exaggeration," though it might be retained "as the voicing of a distant hope" (Guerard 34). In the meantime, he suggested, it would be more accurate to call the field "Western World Literature: a literature for Westerners, wherever they may be, and for Westernized Orientals" (Guerard 34).
After World War II, and particularly after the end of the age of colonialism and empire, roughly speaking as of the 1960s, this exclusive, or almost exclusive, attention to European literature under the terms of what passed for world literature came under attack. Already in 1959, at a Conference on "The Teaching of World Literature" held at the University of Wisconsin, the Swiss-American comparatist Werner Friederich humorously but also scathingly proclaimed that "sometimes, in flippant moments, I think we should call our programs NATO Literatures--yet even that would be extravagant, for we do not usually deal with more than one fourth of the [the] 15 NATO-nations" (14-15), that is to say, next to English, French, German, and for good measure also some Spanish and Italian literature, all of them studied in translation. Next to this traditional European domain, Friederich called for attention to the cultures of Latin America, Asia, Africa, and Oceania. That this was done very much in the spirit of the Cold War that was then raging may become clear when we consider that Friederich argued that the United States, with its mixture of races and cultures, its history of migration, its geographical location, and its world leadership in matters military, economic and political, was uniquely well placed to take the lead also in matters cultural, and part of this leadership would be a greater opening to the world beyond Europe and the US itself. This argument would return in the twenty-first century, but not without a twist.
A more hard-hitting critique of what would eventually come to be called "Eurocentrism" was unleashed by the French comparatist Rene Etiemble in "Faut-il reviser la notion de Weltliteratur?" at the Fourth World Congress of the International Comparative Literature Associaton held in Fribourg, Switzerland, in 1964. This essay discussed an inquiry that the French writer Raymond Queneau had conducted at the time on the Bibliotheque ideale, or ideal library, for which he had asked several dozen writers, overwhelmingly French, to pick their ideal library of one hundred titles from a list of approximately 3500 works. Etiemble noted that of the one hundred titles selected, 60 were French, 9 were English or American, 8 (ancient) Greek, 6 German, 6 Russian, 4 Latin, 3 Spanish, and one each of Arab, Danish, Hebrew and Italian. "As Apollinaire's Alcools is inadvertently cited twice," Etiemble cheekily suggests that "instead of one of these two Alcools we should insert the [Japanese] Genji monogatari [Tale of Genji], the [Chinese] Hong leou mong [The Dream of the Red Chamber, also called The Story of the Stone], the [Sanskrit] Pangatantra [Five Principles], the [Sanskrit] Jataka, the [Japanese] Tzurezuregusa [Essays in Idleness, also called The Harvest of Leisure], the Zhuangzi, Wang Chong, the Prolegomenon [Muqaddimah] of Ibn Khaldoun, or one or other of the thousands of titles that are worth more or at least as much as Alcools?" (21-22). And if one should argue, with the German scholar Werner Krauss, one of Hans Ulrich Gumbrecht's "grosse Romanisten," that until the nineteenth century French literature has been "serving as example to all other literatures" [Fur alle andern Literaturen beispielgebend gewesen], Etiemble replies "that another literature has enjoyed, and continues to enjoy, and this since millennia, a situation that is as privileged as ours has been for eight centuries: the Chinese, which is not represented, not even with one title, in the Bibliotheque ideale" (22).
Across a distance of more than two generations, Guerard's, Friederich's and Etiemble's laments are stridently echoed by Shu-mei Shih, from UCLA. Spurred on by the sudden upswing in attention being given to world literature in US departments of comparative literature as of the turn of the third millenium, Shih posits in a 2004 PMLA article on "Global Literature and the Technologies of Recognition" that "while many scholars resuscitating th[e] concept [of world literature] offer a nominal apology for its Eurocentric origins, this Eurocentrism's [or Westerncentrism; as she calls it a little further on] constitutive hierarchies and asymmetries are seldom analyzed" (16), a task she then takes upon herself. Discussing what she calls "technologies of recognition," which she defines as "the mechanisms in the discursive (un)conscious--with bearings on social and cultural (mis)understandings--that produce 'the West' as the agent of recognition and 'the rest' as the object of recognition, in representation" (17), with regard to world literature, Shih concludes that a Western-centred world literature in the worst case simply non-recognizes what is distant to itself, neglecting, ignoring or silencing it, and at best mis-recognizes the non-West by what Shih calls "omnipotent definitions." This recalls Edward Said's branding of "orientalism" as a power discourse enabling and legitimizing Europe's suppression of the non-West under colonialism and imperialism.
Shih specifically focuses upon a 2000 article by Franco Moretti, "Conjectures on World Literature," which she sees as a prime example of the technology of recognition that she calls "the return of the systematic." What Shih finds "most curious" about Moretti's article is that "even as the author frequently admits his limited knowledge about literatures outside Western Europe [...] these caveats become not so much obstacles as enabling mechanisms for sweeping generalizations" (19). Specifically, she faults Moretti for having hastily applied his theory of the spread of the European novel to the rest of the world as a combination of "foreign plot, local characters, and then, local narrative voice" (Moretti 65, cited in Shih 19), and also to Chinese literature, via his "distant reading" approach:
A cursory look at Chinese literature would [...] have led Moretti away from taking one scholar's work in English as the authoritative last word on the Chinese novel and from taking the Chinese novel at the turn of the nineteenth century as representative of the entire period from 1750 to 1950. Any genealogy of the modern Chinese novel has to examine its relation with the classics of the genre, which include (if we limit the list to Moretti's period) The Dream of the Red Chamber (1791), The Scholars (1803), and Flowers in the Mirror (1828), as well as the late-nineteenth-century novels that Moretti refers to. (Shih 19)
Obviously, similar objections could be raised in the interest of other non-Western or non-European literatures.
Moretti's article lambasted by Shih, and the many articles and books that have followed it, can be seen as more recent attempts to address one of the avatars that Weltliteratur assumed after Goethe, that is to say as a cover-all for all that has ever been written anywhere in the world. Moretti advocates a systemic approach using what he calls "distant reading" to bring some order to the amorphous mass of the world's literatures or, even more ambitiously, to what Moretti himself only half-jokingly refers to as the "great unread" of all the world's writing that flies under the radar of what we usually call "literature." Succinctly put, Moretti tries to map the various relationships between the world's literatures in terms of production, dissemination, and translation, without proffering judgments of value or quality. The other dress Weltliteratur cloaked itself in, it will be recalled, was that of a canon of the best of the world's unwieldy mass of literature(s). This is what Pascale Casanova turns to in La Republique mondiale des Lettres (1999). For her, the world's literatures, and their works, range themselves into a canonical constellation ruled from Paris, with its literary establishment busily and authoritatively selecting, filtering, translating, and reviewing. The canon implicitly resulting from this, in Casanova's interpretation, is a reflection of the quality of the works so ordered according to the supposedly autonomous, and therefore objective, standards of a Bourdieuian world literary field anchored in Paris. (1a) Accordingly, the world literary canon may, and in many cases effectively does, assign different values to a work or an author than does the national literary canon. Avoiding the pitfalls of both positions, and drawing upon the commercial vocabulary so frequently also invoked by Goethe himself (and somewhat later by Marx and Engels when speaking about world literature), David Damrosch, in What Is World Literature? (2003), defines the latter as what circulates beyond its source language/culture, either in translation or in the original if in a language that is sufficiently well-known abroad, which in our era in practice means in English. In essence, Damrosch advocates an updated version of a mode of reading particular to American academe, especially at the undergraduate level, which is to say a form of "close reading" such as was popularized already as of the 1930s and 1940s by the so-called New Criticism, but which historically was applied primarily to English-language literature. Damrosch now extends it also to other literatures, albeit not without some modifications, to which I will turn later. In theory, both Casanova's and Damrosch's takes on world literature are open-ended. In practice, Casanova's approach calls for a concrete listing of which authors and works are part of her canon at any which moment in time, with all problems of limitations of numbers and other things that this implies. Damrosch's approach in fact also calls for a pinning down of which works or authors fulfill his criterion of "circulating" at any given time. The actual form such pinning down takes is that of the anthology.
Until the first decade of the twenty-first century, the anthology most widely used in US academe of what in practice was deemed to be world literature was the Norton World Masterpieces: Literature of Western Culture, which first appeared in 1956, and which through its sixth edition, from 1992, and in spite of minor name changes, largely remained focused on Western literature. An Expanded Edition appeared in 1995. In 2002, this expanded edition became The Norton Anthology of World Literature, Second Edition (Lawall et al.). Though earlier editions of the Norton anthology had also already responded to claims, for example, from feminist, multicultural and postcolonial quarters, for wider representation, the Expanded Edition of 1995 basically added an equal number of pages of non-Western texts to the earlier exclusively Western edition. In early 2012, a third edition of the Norton Anthology of World Literature appeared, this time under the general editorship of Martin Puchner, (1b) featuring, in many cases, completely new selections.
Since the beginning of the twenty-first century, the Norton has had to face competition from various other anthologies of world literature, the bestknown of which is the six-volume Longman Anthology of World Literature, with David Damrosch as general editor. (2b) Elsewhere, I have pointed out that with the "provincializing" of Europe, to use Dipesh Chakrabarty's famous term, (3b) in the "new" world literature, with the quite understandably and rightly so raising of the world's other "major" literatures, such as Chinese, Japanese, Arabic, and Indian, to equality with those of the "old" European, or latterly perhaps rather Euro-American, center or "core," Europe's minor literatures, which already did not receive much attention in earlier "Eurocentric" or "Western-centric" versions of world literature or comparative literature, simply disappear from sight, and literally "fall off" the world. Thus, one form of inequality is simply replaced with another. Be that as it may, both the recent Norton and Longman anthologies "balance the books" when it comes to a fair representation of Western and non-Western literatures. Or we should say, rather, that when it comes to representing each "major" or "world" region's "major" literatures, the "minor" literatures of Asia, Africa, and elsewhere suffer the same neglect as their European counterparts. (4b)
Apart from the understandable and legitimate claim, from a theoretical angle, for fairer representation at least across major regions and literatures of the world in order to truly warrant the label "world literature," one can also, I think, ask the legitimate question of the reason for the sudden interest in a topic that otherwise had lain largely dormant for several decades, particularly in American academe. One explanation is that recent American interest in world literature is at least partially motivated by a desire to make the world more comprehensible to twenty-first century generations of college students by giving them greater exposure to the varied cultures of the world than was the case for earlier generations. The events of 9/11, for example, painfully brought home to the United States that it is not, as it had been accustomed to thinking, distinct from the rest of the world and invulnerable behind its two oceans. On the contrary, it is very much a part of that world, and therefore, to better understand this world is vital also to US concerns. To a certain extent, this is the thrust of both Edward Said's posthumous Humanism and Democratic Criticism (2004) (1c) and Emily Apter's The Translation Zone (2006), both of which explicitly refer to 9/11 as having influenced their arguments, with Apter particularly insisting on the need for knowing foreign languages, and for increased efforts of translation, as keys to a more equal relationship between the US and the rest of the world. (2c)
Interestingly, then, the renewed popularity of world literature has also brought issues of translation to the fore again. In many ways, this is not surprising. Earlier, I mentioned that courses in world literature, especially as taught in US colleges and to US undergraduates, of necessity relied upon translation. Indeed, in his 1940 Preface to World Literature, Guerard called translation "the indispensable instrument" and insisted that even if something is inevitably lost in translation the essential quality or message, what he calls the "living" part of a work, is preserved, at least if we are dealing with a good translation, and that it is only through translation that most of the world's literatures are accessible to us. A later practitioner of comparative literature, indeed one of the founders of what we now call translation studies, Andre Lefevere, eventually came to see translation as only one form of what he calls a work's "refraction" through which it projects itself into the world. Lefevere posited that "the refraction [...] is the original to the great majority of people who are only tangentially exposed to literature" ("Mother Courage's Cucumbers" 246). Lawrence Venuti bluntly posits that "for most readers, translated texts constitute world literature" (191).
One would expect theoreticians and proponents of translation, then, to be enthusiastic about the possibilities offered by the re-emergence of world literature and its use of translated literature in anthologies of world literature. While this is true for some, most notably Damrosch, who boldly claims in What is World Literature? that world literature is literature that gains in translation, almost the opposite is true for others. Gayatri Spivak, herself a gifted translator, specifically from the French with her early translations of Derrida, and from Bengali, has vehemently opposed the new world literature in translation in her 2003 work Death of a Discipline. The discipline to which the title of the book refers is comparative literature, and Spivak sees the turn to world literature strongly manifesting itself in the early years of the twenty-first century, and which she sees as intimately linked to globalization, as a threat to that discipline. However, more geopolitical concerns also play a role here. Already in a 1992 article on "The Politics of Translation," Spivak had argued that "in the act of wholesale translation into English there can be a betrayal of the democratic ideal into the law of the strongest [...] this happens when all the literature of the Third World gets translated into a sort of with-it translatese, so that the literature by a woman in Palestine begins to resemble, in the feel of its prose, something by a man in Taiwan" ("Politics" 182). Following the same logic, in Death of a Discipline she vehemently opposes "U.S.-style world literature becoming the staple of Comparative Literature in the global South" (Death 39). Spivak's impassioned plea seems triggered by the same fear that led Erich Auerbach, in his 1952 article "Philology and World Literature," to lament that "man will have to accustom himself to existence in a standardized world, to a single literary culture, only a few literary languages and perhaps even a single literary language [...] and herewith the notion of Weltliteratur would now be at once realized and destroyed" (Auerbach 127).
In The Translation Zone, Emily Apter radically proposes to reground the discipline of Comparative Literature in "the problem of translation" (The Translation Zone 251). A "new comparative literature," she professes, "would acknowledge [the] jockeying for power and respect in the field of language" ("Global Translatio" 244245). In a 2008 article, Apter seems to be at the same time echoing and questioning Spivak's concerns about the hegemonic dangers of English for new postnational paradigms (such as world literature) when she feels that "postnationalism can lead to blindness toward the economic and national power struggles that literary politics often front for, while potentially minimizing the conflict among the interests of monocultural states and multilingual communities (as in current U.S. policy that uses an agenda of cultural homogeneity to patrol 'immigrant' languages and to curtail bilingual education)" and that "though planetary inclusion may be the goal of new lexicons in contemporary comparative literature, they often paradoxically reinforce dependency on a national/ethnic nominalism that gives rise to new exclusions" ("Untranslatables" 581). Like Spivak, then, precisely because she is so acutely aware of the problem of translation, in Against World Literature (2013) Apter advocates the study of what she calls "untranslatables," that is to say, those works that resist translation, and thereby homogenization and assimilation into a hegemonic worldview. (1d) For the same reasons, Spivak advocates learning and teaching local languages and gaining an intimate knowledge of the local cultures. When translation is necessary, it should "make visible the import of the translator's choice" (Spivak, Death 18). Here, of course, Spivak is touching upon the old discussion whether translation should naturalize or, on the contrary, "make strange" the original.
In the Note on "Uebersetzung" (translation) he appended to the West-oestlicher Divan, Goethe outlined the three "Arten" or kinds of translation he discerned. The first kind is that which "acquaints us with the foreign according to our own lights, a simple prose translation is most suitable here" (526). Translation here is a purely "functional" exercise; the only thing that matters is the content of the original without bothering about style, versification or other matters. The second stage is that "where one is concerned with entering into the foreign situation, but really only with the intent of appropriating to oneself the foreign and to refashion it according to one's own lights" (Goethe 527). Here the translator "naturalizes" the original within his own literary target system. Finally, there is the third stage: "a translation that aims to identify itself with the original finally approaches the condition of an interlinear version and much furthers understanding of the original, it leads us back to the original text, stronger, it forces us back to that text, and thus finally the circle is closed in which the foreign and the native, the known and the unknown move closely together" (Goethe 532). This third kind of translation does not strive to naturalize the original in the target language, but instead aims to preserve the former's strangeness, its foreignness. Translators and theoreticians of translation from Walter Benjamin to Lawrence Venuti have elaborated upon this tripartite scheme of Goethe's, with most of them favoring Goethe's third stage. Obviously, this is also what Spivak has in mind, but which--rightly or wrongly--she does not see present-day anthologies of world literature as practising.
If translation, then, is a major issue when it comes to the relationship between the "local" and the "global" character a specific text assumes, the same thing also applies more generally to the literature from which a particular text originates. Venuti, summarizing a lot of recent discussions on the role of translation in literary studies, and referring to Casanova (1999, 2004) (2d) and Moretti (2000) amongst others, Venuti concludes that "to understand the impact of translation in the creation of world literature, we need to examine the canons developed by translation patterns within the receiving situation as well as the interpretations that translations inscribe in the source texts" and that "to be productive, to yield the most incisive findings, this sort of examination must combine distant and close reading of translations to explore the relations between canons and interpretations" (191). There is no room in the present article to engage into any such combination of distant and close reading. I do, however, want to reflect briefly upon the first part of the above quotation from Venuti.
Citing Gideon Toury (2002a 2002b, 2003) and Itamar Even Zohar (2002), (1e) the editors of Translation in Anthologies and Collections (19th and 20th Centuries), when discussing the functions, purposes and types of anthologies in their introduction to the volume, stipulate that anthologies "may be considered tokens of culture planning" (Seruya et al. 5). As such, they constitute, in the words of Even-Zohar again as quoted by the editors (Seruya et al. 5), a "deliberate act of intervention, either by power holders or by 'free agents' into an extant or a crystallizing repertoire" (Even-Zohar 45). Culture planning, they conclude, seems to function as a convenient umbrella for several possible functions and purposes for anthologies and collections. Among such sometimes opposed functions, the following are worth mentioning: pleasure purposes, educational purposes (either as teaching anthologies directed at young readers since the 18th century and created with the explicit purpose of educating taste or associated with the dissemination of mainstream ideological, political, social, ethical, aesthetical, and moral values); preservation purposes (representativeness of a given literature; anthologies work as a repository or means of creating a national cultural memory and canon as well as a universal canon (Bloom); innovation purposes (re-evaluation of texts and canon as well as introducing novelty into a system); protection purposes (literary production of minorities tends to become available and known by means of anthologies, since it seldom reaches autonomous publication or a wide reading public); structuring purposes (as a means of structuring a branch of culture); accessibility purposes (to make a structured selection available to a wide reading public); dissemination purposes (to make literary and textual models available so that they may become productive); subjective purposes (particularly powerful or prestigious cultural agents use anthologies to disseminate personal predilections although often implicitly claiming a certain representativeness and excellence); profit purposes (certain anthologies and collections aim to meet a generalized taste or preference with the purpose of making profit for a publisher). As such, anthologies and collections become very important first order objects for the study of the underlying criteria for selection and restructuring, the underlying taste of individual agents or of the community they belong to, of publishing and book-market mechanisms, of fluctuations in cultural importance, as second order objects. (Seruya et al. 5)
It will be clear from all I have said earlier about the world literature anthologies hitherto mentioned that they primarily serve education, preservation, and profit purposes. Interestingly, for educational purposes Seruya and her co-authors distinguish between "educating taste" and "the dissemination of mainstream ideological, political, social, ethical, aesthetical, and moral values." In the early versions of world literature anthologies used in US academe, the first purpose would have been assumed to be the "natural" one. However, much of what has been going on in US academe over the past fifty years or so has been aimed at debunking said purpose, arguing that precisely in its unspoken assumptions, such a stance revealed political and social biases serving the worldview, and the power structure, of a specific part of US society. In the present sociopolitical and academic US context, the second purpose seems more likely, with the caveat that what passes here for "mainstream" is what US academe has deemed as such, in line with the theories and practices of multiculturalism and postcolonialism, or in short "political correctness," that since the end of the twentieth century have been dominant in the US academy.
In fact, from the perspective just adopted, we can see that two things are going on at the same time in those anthologies. Composing an anthology with, at least in ambition, worldwide coverage is an ideological act that serves political, social, ethical, and moral aims. At the same time, the selection of the items to be included in such an anthology is at least partially based on the aesthetic grounds of the cultures from which these items originate. As far as their preservation function goes, the world literature anthologies discussed here serve two purposes at the same time. They establish an overall canon of world literature for their primary audience, in first instance US undergraduates, and further for all readers of English, whether native speakers of the language or not. As such, they clearly function as what Even-Zohar defined as a "deliberate act of intervention" by "power holders" in the US academic system, in casu the editors/composers of the anthologies and their publishers, in a wider English-language context. But they also establish a more restricted canon of each of the literatures from which items are included within that same context. Furthermore, they do so in English. If one objects that nothing precludes that there exist other, and more comprehensive, anthologies, serving other purposes, of a specific literature in a language other than English, this is undoubtedly true. However, of many even major literatures, there do not exist anthologies in all, or even most, other languages, and this is often because of limitations imposed by the restricted size of the market in such languages. For the same reason, there do not exist truly comprehensive world literature anthologies as yet in many, or even most, languages. This also means that in many third cultures, namely, non-Anglo cultures, but also cultures different from the literature from which the items in question have been selected and translated, yet for which English-language materials, due to English being the world's lingua franca at present, serve a mediating role, the canon of the literature in question--such as Chinese or Arabic--in relation to "world literature" consists of what is included in English-language, and in practice US-produced, anthologies. This process is even reinforced if there is considerable overlap between the various world literature anthologies in English competing with one another at any given time. In fact, things go even further than this. The literatures from which selections are included in these US world literature anthologies at least partially come to regard their own literatures, as far as their relation to world literature is concerned, in light of the restricted canon of their literatures put forth as such in English. In other words, the US power holders, by their "deliberate act of intervention" in their own literature and culture, also "intervene" in other literatures and cultures, even if un-deliberately so. If, as the editors of Translation in Anthologies and Collections (19th and 20th Centuries) claim (Seruya et al. 4), anthologies, like translations, function as what Andre Lefevere termed "rewrites," the world literature anthologies mentioned do so fourfold: as translations, as re-configurations of the works concerned within an English-language world literature context, as re-configurations of the canons of the specific literatures anthologized in the eyes of "the world," and as re-configurations of their canons in the eyes of native readers of these specific literatures themselves. The latter in first instance holds for such native readers with the ability to read English, but at least potentially, it may also influence the shape a native canon may assume in future under "world literature" pressure. The global, then, at least potentially again, hugely influences the local--and this holds true even if the third kind of translation, the "foreignizing" one is stuck to, and a fortiori if the second kind, the naturalizing one, is opted for.
Ironically, the effect of such interventions is perhaps strongest with those cultures and literatures that the renewed interest in world literature was intended to promote: those of the "non-West" or the "Rest." As Martha Cheung argues in her contribution to Translation in Anthologies and Collections (19th and 20th Centuries), globalization in literary studies, as in science and scholarship in general, has meant that Western theories and methodologies in practice have become "universal." In other words, the flow of ideas is not reciprocal, but rather one-directional, from the "West" to the "Rest." This means that the non-Western scholar internalizes the Western view of things, and sees her or his own literature "through Western eyes." In the case of the anthologies discussed, the non-Western scholar, or student, comes to appreciate his her or his own literature according to the criteria that determined the raison d'etre and the selection of materials for these anthologies. The result is not only a loss of representativeness for her/his literature, notwithstanding the avowed aim of the Western--or in this case US -- anthologizers to increase the representativeness of such literatures, but also a loss of identity on her or his part.
Cheung's own remedy, in her particular case with respect to Chinese theories of translation, is to put together an anthology, in English, herself, meant as an intervention in both the target culture and the source culture. In the target culture her anthology introduces materails previously unknown, or previously unknown in this particular constellation. But, she insists that her
[a]nthology is also meant to serve a function in the source culture. I wanted to put to positive use the perspective from the fringe that is often regarded as the curse of the marginal being. The space at the fringe is, as Homi Bhabha has noted, "not the space of a celebratory, or utopian, self-marginalization" (4), rather it is imposed marginalization and it bestows on its inhabitants a heritage of inferiority. For them, the space at the fringe is an existential reality that is often filled with anxiety. At the same time, as Homi Bhabha has also pointed out, the space at the fringe is also the space for experimentation, subversion, transgression, heresy, and productive hybridity. This means, then, that marginality can be reconceptualized and the negative energy of anxiety can be converted into positive power. In real terms, this means that in addition to functioning in the target culture as a potentially effective force against Eurocentric bias in theorizations about translation, the Anthology can perhaps also function in the source culture and participate in the cultural politics of China, not least by opening up possibilities for a radical re-reading of traditional Chinese discourse on translation. This way, rather than to "Think global, Act local, and Speak global", I can "Think global, Act local, and Speak glocal" (Cheung 84)
Following Cheung's example, one can think of similar initiatives also for world literature anthologies: in English, but selected by non-native speakers of English, the latter moreover not active in US academe but in their own native cultures, or in "third" cultures. By this I now mean not only non-Western cultures or literatures, but also so-called "smaller" European literatures, and preferably following foreignizing translation principles. The result, to use Lefevere's term, would be doubly "refractive." It would lead the anthologizers to reread their own literary tradition, and its canon, from a world literature perspective informed, but not necessarily dominated, by Western-centrism. And it would lead to a rereading of the English-language tradition, which now often, even if only implicitly, seems to serve as reference or benchmark, and hence also to a reconfiguration, from a "foreignizing" perspective, of the English-language canon. A range of such glocal anthologies, especially if studied in comparison--even subjecting them to the "combination of distant and close reading" Venuti advocated--then would provide at the same time a more truly global perspective on what constitutes "world literature."
Apter, Emily. Against World Literature. London and New York: Verso, 2013.
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--. "Untranslatables: A World System." New Literary History 39.3 (Summer 2008): 581-598. Auerbach, Erich. "Philology and Weltliteratur." 1952. The Princeton Sourcebook in Comparative Literature. Ed. David Damrosch, Nathalie Melas and Mbongiseni Buthelezi. Princeton: Princeton UP, 2009. 125-38.
Bhabha, Homi K., ed. Nation and Narration. London and New York: Routledge, 1990.
Buck, Philo M., Jr., ed. An Anthology of World Literature. New York: Macmillan, 1934.
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Chakrabarty, Dipesh. Provincializing Europe: Postcolonial Thought and Historical Difference. Princeton and Oxford: Princeton UP, 2000.
Cheung, Martha. "Academic Navel Gazing? Playing the Game Up Front? Pages from the Notebook of a Translation Anthologist." Translation in Anthologies and Collections (19th and 20th Centuries). Ed. Teresa Seruya, Lieven D'hulst, Alexandra Assis Rosa, and Maria Lin Moniz. Amsterdam and Philadelphia: John Benjamins, 2013. 75-88.
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(1) This "Introduction" and the following two articles by Theo D'haen and Vladimir Biti, actually, should have been included in the Sept. special issue "The Local and the Global." The reason why they are missing is that there has been a breakdown in communication between the editorial office and the editor. Here they come out as a further promotion to the thematic study of "The Local and the Global." The editorial office will send all contributors to the special issue an electronic and paper copy of both the issues, September and December, so they can see the intent of the issue as a whole.
English Dept.--Fac. of Arts--KU Leuven/University of Leuven
Blijde Inkomststraat 21-3311, B-3000 Leuven, Belgium
Theo D'haen is Emeritus Professor of English and Comparative Literature at the University of Leuven, Belgium, and Emeritus Professor of English Literature at Leiden University, The Netherlands. He has also taught at Utrecht University, The Netherlands. He has held the Erasmus Chair at Harvard, visiting professorships at the Sorbonne and Vienna University, and holds a Chiang Jiang visiting professorship at the University of Sichuan at Chengdu and a visiting professorship at Shanghai Jiao Tong University. Past President of Federation des Langues et Litteratures Modernes. Trustee and Board Member of the Academia Europaea, editor-in-chief of European Review. Member of the Stockholm Collegium. Recent publications include The Routledge Concise History of World Literature (2012), American Literature: A History (2014, with Hans Bertens), Contemporary American Crime Fiction (2001, with Hans Bertens), The Routledge Companion to World Literature (2012, with David Damrosch and Djelal Kadir), The Routledge Reader in World Literature (2013, with Cesar Dominguez and Mads Rosendahl Thomsen), Crime Fiction as World Literature (2017, with Louise Nilsson and David Damrosch), Cosmopolitanism and the Postnational: Literature and the New Europe (2015, with Cesar Dominguez), Major versus Minor? Languages and Literatures in a Globalized World (2015, with Iannis Goerlandt and Roger Sell), and Caribbeing: Comparing Caribbean Literatures and Cultures (2014, with Kristian van Haesendonck).
(1) Especially in the first part of this article, I re-use, albeit slightly differently phrased, various paragraphs from my Routledge Concise History of World Literature. The framework within which I use these paragraphs, however, is completely different from that in which I used them earlier.
(2) See Eckermann.
(1a) See La Republique mondiale des Lettres.
(1b) See Puchner.
(2b) See Damrosch, 2004, 2009.
(3b) See Chakrabarty, Provincializing Europe: Postcolonial Thought and Historical Difference.
(4b) See D'haen, "La literatura," "Minor Literatures."
(1c) See Said, 2004.
(2c) See Said and Apter.
(1d) See Apter, Against World Literature.
(2d) See Casanova, La Republique mondiale des lettres, 1999, and The World Republic of Letters, 2004.
(1e) See Gideon Toury (2002a 2002b, 2003) and Itamar Even Zohar (2002).
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|Publication:||Forum for World Literature Studies|
|Date:||Dec 1, 2017|
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