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1, Types of the Novel Semiotics of Social Discourse (Winter, 1982), pp. 181-184 Published by: Duke University Press Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/1772213 Accessed: 05/08/2009 02:08
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A New Paradigm for Literature* Comparative
PIERRE SWIGGERS National Science Foundation, Leuven NFWO-Belgian
0. This article is concerned with the fundamental change taking place in the methodology of comparative literature. In fact, it seems that the old paradigm is now being replaced by a new model. The purpose of this article is to outline the epistemological structure of both theories, and to point out the radically divergent methodological scope and strategy of these models. For the methodological comparison of these paradigms, I will use Mario Bunge's description of the sense and reference of scientific models (Bunge 1974: 32-82) which allows comparison (pace the views of Kuhn and Feyerabend) of theories with different epistemological structures. Bunge's view is that within a scientific theory one can distinguish a direct (immediate) referent and an indirect (mediate) referent of the theory. The direct or immediate referent of a theory is the model object defined and used by the theory, whereas the mediate referent is what the theory is about ("thereal thing"). The mediate referent, or the real thing is, in fact, the immediate referent of the model object. Bunge gives the following examples (p.36): Specific theory t Contagiontheory Eye dioptricstheory Model object m Diffusionequation Systemof lenses Real system s Epidemics Mammalian eye
It seems to me that Bunge's metatheory of science can be used to describe the methodological differences between the older and the newer theories of comparative literature. I will first offer a brief axiomatic characterization of both theories, before comparing them with regard to their immediate and mediate referents. 1. The old paradigm of comparative literature, which grew out of nineteenth-century developments in natural science (Cuvier, Ritter) and linguistics (Bopp, Schleicher, Delbriick), was almost methodologically unconscious. The practical case studies were scarcely reflected upon, and
*I am indebted to J. Lambert and L. d'Hulst (Department of Literature, Louvain University) and to H. Roelants (Department of Philosophy, Louvain University) for the fruitful of ideas on the topic discussed here. I also want to thank F. Dekoning for the exchange excellent typing. Poetics Today, Vol. 3:1 (1982), 181-184.
methodological strategies were borrowed from other sciences (history having the leading role). This methodological uncertainty is clearly reflected in the classical handbooks' and in the very unprecise definitions of the notion "comparative literature." If we were to characterize the old paradigm,2 we would describe it axiomatically as follows: 1. comparativeliterature is the study of literary contacts and relations (betweentwo or more nationalliteratures) 2. these relationsare mostly (andpreferably) established betweenauthors,or works, or genres,and they are describedin terms of "influence," "source," "success" fortunelitt6raire"). (of "export themes, of ideas)," ("la 3. emphasis is laid upon the descriptionof these relations, but without to attempting constructa typologyof these relationsand withoutconsidering the causes and modalitiesof these relations. 2. The new paradigm of comparative literature owes much of its existence and of its epistemological structure to the scientific research program3 sketched in D. Durisin's work (1968; 1972).4 Durisin has been the first to offer a systematic typology of literary relations (or metatextual relations), and his program has been sophisticated by, among others, Even-Zohar and Popovic, mostly under the influence of developments in semiotics, communication science and (socio-)linguistics.5 The new paradigm aims at providing covering-law explanations6 within the field of comparative literature. Axiomatically the theory can be described as follows: literature the study, by means of a hypothetical-deductive is 1. comparative metatexts. relationsbetween (translinguistic) model, of the hierarchized 2. these relationsare establishednot so much between authorsand works, but ratherbetween systems and subsystems,governedby certainnorms (cf. Toury 1978:85-8) and tendencies (aesthetic,political,social). but 3. the purposeis not only to describethese relations, alsoto explainthem by means of a fully elaboratedtheory and a stratifiedterminological apparatus. 3. If we apply Bunge's metatheory to both paradigms it seems that the divergences (which reflect a fundamental change in the conception of "comparative literature")can be articulated as follows.
Pichois and Rousseau (1967).
1. Especiallythose of the Frenchschool of comparativeliterature,e.g., Guyard(1951) and
2. For a somewhat more detailed descriptionof theories in comparativeliteratureand in the sciences of literaturesee Swiggers(1981). 3. I take this term in the strict sense it has in Lakatos(1970). 4. Of course, this new trend had alreadybeen preparedby theoreticalinnovationsin linguistic science in the Slaviccountries(RussianFormalism,PragueSchool).Since the latter are sufficiently known, and have alreadybeen describedelsewhere, I will focus here on buriSin'stheory, which is specificallyconcernedwith comparativeliterature. van 5. For a few interestingexemplificationsof the new paradigm,see Holmes, Lambert, den Broeck (eds. 1978) and Even-Zohar(1978a).One should also include here Popovic's work on the notion of "metatext" (Popovic1976b)and his short dictionary(Popovic1976a). 6. I have used the term in the same sense as it is used by Hempel in his classical expose (Hempel 1963).
A New Paradigm for Comparative Literature
The privileged research type of the old paradigm is the study of the influence or the success of an author or literary work. The model object is mostly a token of the type "literaryexport/import."The indirect referent of the theory (and the direct referent of the model object) is the quantum of influences and contacts between authors and works. The important thing to notice is that these influences and contacts are studied for themselves and are not related to deeper explanatory causes. The model object of the new paradigm is a certain quantity of metatexts which function within the literary (poly)systems (cf. Even-Zohar 1978b). The indirect referent of the theory (and the direct referent of the model object) is constituted by the systematic transformations the metatext undergoes under the influence of the norms imposed by the literary system and tradition.7 The aim of the new paradigm is to provide an explanation of the way metatexts behave within one or more literary systems. The epistemological structure of both theories can be visualized in the following table: Specific theory t 1. Old paradigm: Atomistictheory of comparative literature 2. New paradigm: Structural theory of comparative literature Model object m Literary export/ import Metatextual relations
Real system s Contactsbetween authors,works
Transformations of texts within literarysystems
REFERENCES Bunge, Mario, 1974. Treatise on Basic Philosophy. Semantics I: Sense and Reference, Vol. I (Dordrecht: Reidel). DuriSin, Dionyz, 1968. "Die wichtigsten Typen literarischen Beziehungen und Zusammenhange," in: G. Ziegengeist ed. Aktuelle Probleme der vergleichenden Literaturforschung (Berlin: Akademie Verlag), 47-58. 1972 VergleichendeLiteraturforschung(Berlin: Akademie Verlag). Etkind, Efim, 1978. "Latraduction et les courants litt6raires," in: Holmes, Lambert and van den Broeck eds. 1978, 128-141. Even-Zohar, Itamar, 1978a. Papers in Historical Poetics (Tel Aviv: Tel Aviv University). 1978b. "The Position of Translated Literature within the Literary Polysystem," in: Holmes, Lambert, and van den Broeck, eds. 1978, 117-127. Guyard, Marius-Franqois, 1951. La litterature comparee (Paris: Presses Universitaires de France). Hempel, Carl G., 1963. "Reasons and Covering Laws in Historical Explanation," in: S. Hook, ed. Philosophy and History (New York: New York UP) 143-163. Holmes, James S., Jose Lambert and Raymond van den Broeck, eds. 1978. Literature and Translation: New Perspectives in Literary Studies (Leuven: Acco). 7. On the role of tradition in (the exchange between) literary systems, see Etkind (1978).
Lakatos, Imre, 1970. "Falsificationand the Methodology of Scientific Research Proin: and of grammes," I. Lakatosand A. Musgrave,eds. Criticism the Growth Knowledge (Cambridge: CambridgeUP), 91-195. Pichois, Claude & A.M. Rousseau, 1967. La litt6rature compar6e (Paris:A. Colin).
Popovit, Anton, 1976a. "Aspects of Metatexts," Canadian Review of Comparative Literature
1976b. Dictionary for the Analysis of Literary Translations (Edmonton: University of
Alberta). Comvernieuwing in de literatuurwetenschap," Swiggers, Pierre, 1981."Methodologische in: Translation," Holmes, Toury,Gideon, 1978."TheNatureand Role of Norms in Literary Lambertand van den Broeckeds., 1978, 83-100.
municatie & Cognitie (in press).
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