Globalization has added a fourth dimension to literature. Until recently, the life of a literary work was either local, national, or international, or the three of them together. A global life, however, is something else. Though globalization is an obvious perspective for contemporary scientists, sociologists, economists and politicians, it is still invisible to most literary authors and scholars. Many of them have hardly noticed its impact on literature, whereas others refuse to consider it an unprecedented phenomenon. Good literature has always had an international life, they argue. We believe, on the contrary, that there is a radical difference between the international circulation of literature in the past and the globalisation of literature of the last two decades. The reception of Petrarch in Renaissance Europe is not comparable to the global circulation of Rushdie, Pamuk and Auster today. The new digital technologies are not a mere extension of traditional printing and publishing, and the role of English as a global language is only superficially similar to the function of Latin as a language of learning in medieval Europe. There is a quantum leap between these phenomena that cannot be written off with the dubious wisdom of “it-has-always-been-like-this”. One of the key elements that separates international from global literature is the writer’s relation to his or her community. Never in the past did authors write their works directly for a planetary public. Their readers were always either local – i.e. regional or national –, or they belonged to a religious community, as with Christian Latin and Islamic Arabic writing, or a community of scholars. Even imperial authors rarely cared for those who lived beyond the borders of their state. Virgil may have thought of Greek readers, but certainly he never took into account Indian, Persian and Chinese audiences, though he knew these people existed. Writing for a global public opens up fantastic possibilities and imposes draconian rules on the authors who follow this path. There are enticing opportunities for the authors in terms of sales and celebrity, and dramatic consequences for form and style. Delocalisation and abstraction are almost inevitable once one decides to address non-local readers. Any writer who wants to be a successful globetrotter must dose culture-specific references very carefully – unless the writer is American, in which case he or she can fill their books with local details, exploiting the belief that reading America’s present means reading the world’s future. A central role in the process of literary globalisation is played by translation. Since global best-sellers are published simultaneously in several countries, translators work hand in hand with authors and impinge on “original” writing in unprecedented ways. Global fiction in English has become a standard of excellence to which many authors in the other languages, big and small, adapt their work willingly. Those who aim at global fame often write works based on the modes and style of English-language fiction, so that their eventual translation into English will be easier. English translation becomes the bottleneck that non-English-language authors must pass through if they are to become literary celebrities. The essays collected in this volume are organised into six sections. Section 1 is devoted to the ambivalent position of postcolonial writing in the global scenario, a legacy of the imperial age. Sections 2 and 3 deal with the relation between national and global literature. The analysis of different national contexts suggests the central importance of translation in the global scenario and the unequal balance of power between English and all the other languages, regardless of their apparent importance. It also suggests that global literature in English is exerting a growing pressure on the national literatures, so much so that the very concept of “national literature” looks more and more inadequate to define recent fiction in many countries. Section 4 is dedicated to a recent and eminently global form of writing, e-literature. Section 5 is devoted to local vs. global literature. “Minority”, “majority” and “local literature” are terms which need to be re-defined against the new background of global literature. Section 6 deals with a neglected though fascinating theme, the role of prizes in global literature. The discussion focuses on the Nobel, the international literary prize par excellence.

Towards a Global Literature = Verso una letteratura globalizzata (N. 48 di "Testo a fronte"), 2013-12.

Towards a Global Literature = Verso una letteratura globalizzata (N. 48 di "Testo a fronte")

Zuccato, Edoardo;Parks, Tim
2013-12

Abstract

Globalization has added a fourth dimension to literature. Until recently, the life of a literary work was either local, national, or international, or the three of them together. A global life, however, is something else. Though globalization is an obvious perspective for contemporary scientists, sociologists, economists and politicians, it is still invisible to most literary authors and scholars. Many of them have hardly noticed its impact on literature, whereas others refuse to consider it an unprecedented phenomenon. Good literature has always had an international life, they argue. We believe, on the contrary, that there is a radical difference between the international circulation of literature in the past and the globalisation of literature of the last two decades. The reception of Petrarch in Renaissance Europe is not comparable to the global circulation of Rushdie, Pamuk and Auster today. The new digital technologies are not a mere extension of traditional printing and publishing, and the role of English as a global language is only superficially similar to the function of Latin as a language of learning in medieval Europe. There is a quantum leap between these phenomena that cannot be written off with the dubious wisdom of “it-has-always-been-like-this”. One of the key elements that separates international from global literature is the writer’s relation to his or her community. Never in the past did authors write their works directly for a planetary public. Their readers were always either local – i.e. regional or national –, or they belonged to a religious community, as with Christian Latin and Islamic Arabic writing, or a community of scholars. Even imperial authors rarely cared for those who lived beyond the borders of their state. Virgil may have thought of Greek readers, but certainly he never took into account Indian, Persian and Chinese audiences, though he knew these people existed. Writing for a global public opens up fantastic possibilities and imposes draconian rules on the authors who follow this path. There are enticing opportunities for the authors in terms of sales and celebrity, and dramatic consequences for form and style. Delocalisation and abstraction are almost inevitable once one decides to address non-local readers. Any writer who wants to be a successful globetrotter must dose culture-specific references very carefully – unless the writer is American, in which case he or she can fill their books with local details, exploiting the belief that reading America’s present means reading the world’s future. A central role in the process of literary globalisation is played by translation. Since global best-sellers are published simultaneously in several countries, translators work hand in hand with authors and impinge on “original” writing in unprecedented ways. Global fiction in English has become a standard of excellence to which many authors in the other languages, big and small, adapt their work willingly. Those who aim at global fame often write works based on the modes and style of English-language fiction, so that their eventual translation into English will be easier. English translation becomes the bottleneck that non-English-language authors must pass through if they are to become literary celebrities. The essays collected in this volume are organised into six sections. Section 1 is devoted to the ambivalent position of postcolonial writing in the global scenario, a legacy of the imperial age. Sections 2 and 3 deal with the relation between national and global literature. The analysis of different national contexts suggests the central importance of translation in the global scenario and the unequal balance of power between English and all the other languages, regardless of their apparent importance. It also suggests that global literature in English is exerting a growing pressure on the national literatures, so much so that the very concept of “national literature” looks more and more inadequate to define recent fiction in many countries. Section 4 is dedicated to a recent and eminently global form of writing, e-literature. Section 5 is devoted to local vs. global literature. “Minority”, “majority” and “local literature” are terms which need to be re-defined against the new background of global literature. Section 6 deals with a neglected though fascinating theme, the role of prizes in global literature. The discussion focuses on the Nobel, the international literary prize par excellence.
translation; literature; globalization
Towards a Global Literature = Verso una letteratura globalizzata (N. 48 di "Testo a fronte"), 2013-12.
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: http://hdl.handle.net/10808/9542
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