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Afterword: The ‘World’ in World Literature

Alec G. Hargreaves
Affiliation:
Florida State University
Charles Forsdick
Affiliation:
University of Liverpool
David Murphy
Affiliation:
University of Stirling
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Summary

Perusing the multiple essays in Transnational French Studies: Postcolonialism and Littérature-monde alongside those twenty-seven included in Pour une littérature-monde one is swept into the mental ping-pong of ‘pro’ versus ‘con’ on the question of whether there should be a ‘World Literature in French’ positioned to answer to the widely validated, postcolonially inflected model of Anglophone World Lit. Notable arguments in favour of such a construct touch many bases. Littérature-monde en français replaces the outmoded term ‘Francophone’, a carrier of neo-colonial, orientalist baggage, a ghettoizing, divisive, exclusionary term in publishing and academia, and a tautology, since all speakers of French are Francophone. The ‘world’ can no longer be excluded from literature in French and should be taken fully on board by the Paris-oriented French literary establishment (Michel Le Bris's argument). The strongest literature in French is arguably being produced by extra-hexagonal writers (the manifesto was indeed partly occasioned by their high percentage of literary prizes in 2007). The World Literature perspective brings attention to less internationally exposed writers, putting them into dialogue with each other in an expanded comparative frame. The appellation ‘World Literature’ in institutional academia abolishes the ontologically objectionable ‘us–them’ dichotomy between national and ‘foreign’ language departments. Global literary markets generate new consumers of literature with tastes, interests and cultural literacies no longer satisfied by writing authored by or aimed principally at les Français de France.

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Transnational French Studies
Postcolonialism and Littérature-monde
, pp. 287 - 295
Publisher: Liverpool University Press
Print publication year: 2010

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