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Velarde Comparative Literature versus Translation Studies In a world where specialization on a specific and well-defined field is the primary key to open doors leading to various career opportunities, the very broad scope and nature of comparative literature led some academicians and literary experts to consider it as an eclectic type of academic pursuit and to question the probability of those with Ph.D.s in this field to find employment in the highly specialized environment of the academe and career markets alike. But beyond mundane concerns on financial gain and employment opportunities, there is a more intricate and definitely pressing criticism to comparative literature that has been swung by literary critiques and scholars from all angles. It is the question of the end-point significance as well as the importance of comparative literature aside from the notion of satisfying a certain curiosity in identifying a mediating line that connects all the literary works in the world. Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak wrote in her collection of essays entitled Death of a Discipline, that the way forward for a discipline that she perceives to be in decline is to move beyond its Eurocentric origins, and “to acknowledge a definitive future anteriority, a ‘to-comeness’, a ‘will have happened’ quality” (Spivak, 6). Spivak’s central argument regarding the so-called requiem of comparative literature is not entirely about the discipline per se but about the perspective injected by scholars when studying about the interconnectivity of world literature. To better understand the current intellectual swordfight about this discipline, one need to first have a retrospective analysis as to the origin of comparative literature and its objective to contribute a larger and universal understanding about the differences as well as similarities of literature and other arts across the globe.
The history of the entrance of comparative literature studies in the academic world is relatively recent appearing in the middle of the 19th century. Yet, as what literary critiques observed, the diffuse beginnings of comparative literature have long been present as a more or less moving motive in the work of individual critics. Frederico Lolice pointed out that the “Italian nature of much of the best in Chaucer, the Norman and Latin origin of much of Shakespeare, the English influence on Goethe and the Greek on Lessing have long formed subjects of special research and elucidation. At length it occurred to someone to combine and classify these foreign influences on native literatures that certain lines of universal development might be discerned and the rules of that development codified” (381). In the early nineteenthcentury, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe introduced the notion of Weltliteratur or World Literature in which he postulated that art and literature should not be separated by cultural or social differences. Johann Peter Eckermann, Goethe’s secretary and disciple, recorded his remark to a young Englishman saying, “It is part of the nature of the German to respect everything foreign for its own sake and to adapt himself to foreign idiosyncrasies. This and the great suppleness of our language make German translations particularly accurate and satisfying” (Conversations with Goethe, 27). Although Goethe did not particularly pursue this kind of literary undertaking, he nevertheless continued to insert his ideas of creating a world where equanimity in the realm of arts and letters exists. Comparative literature has been deemed as the study of “literature without borders” due to its interdisciplinary nature and its necessity to move across languages, time periods, across boundaries between literature and other arts such as music, painting, and filmmaking, et al. The interdisciplinary programs of comparative literature places a stress on language skills and critical thinking particularly because it practices literary criticism on works written in different
Frederico Lolice insightfully wrote that “while a study of comparative literature is recognized by all those who have undertaken it as one of the most fascinating. infinite in variety. in his essay entitled In the Name of Comparative Literature. linguistics. who offer quite as attractive work.. have been influenced side by side. their formative influences.. dramatists. they would charge that this discipline is nothing but merely a whimsical fascination to the idea of an invisible rope that ties up and links all the literature across the globe regardless of time. biographers. but perhaps profitless to pursue to any great length (Lolice. and storytellers. it continuously touches various spheres of discipline including history. and knowledge of M. is still a matter of dispute. redundant and superfluous” (Chow. its importance. 107). their environments. The works of Frederico Lolice published in his book entitled A Short History of Comparative Literature: From the Earliest to the Present Day is considered as one of the finest introduction to the study of comparative literature and the worldwide distribution of this acclaimed work was made possible through the ingenuity. aside from augmenting the culture of the world. . Douglas Power admitted in their latter writings that engaging in comparative literature is quite cyclical and has a tendency to traverse a plateau path when everything has already been said and done for many scholars. 382). they still believe that this discipline is intellectually engaging because it is never still and never content. and anthropology. For many of comparative literature’s hostile opponents in national literature departments. and language differences. there still remain the lesser light. Even though Frederico Lolice and M. patience. argued that comparative literature “is not simply a matter of adding or juxtaposing one national literature to another so that its existence is simply. Rey Chow. sociology. and their differences compared. historians. their similarities.languages and/or those hailing from different cultures. psychology. When the greatest poets. culture.
and freed from the chains of history. Lolice emphatically argued that comparative literature is a never ending process of connecting the dots across multi-variance of studies in the sphere of arts and letters. It discusses questions regarding boundaries (time. Lolice advised those who wanted to pursue this kind of discipline that “the first essential to a study of comparative literature is that the student must free him/herself from the limitations of periods both national and universal set by the historian. and that this originality will be universally transfused when cosmopolitanism and internationalism will inevitably become the life of the modern mind. and time frames. et al. language. and why each language has a purpose which is absolutely individual and national. The entire theme of Lolice in his intricately detailed work is that in the memory of native literatures alone will genuine and lasting originality remain. why the Minnesingers did not produce and mould a national literature in Germany as the troubadours did in France and Italy. According to the published critique. and significant countries in Asia and other . all reputable schools in Europe. the United States. 374). the book is never wanting of surprises especially as one becomes more and more emancipated from what is local and national. and attempt to grasp the ideas of a world-wide civilization founded through a mutual exchange of language and a diffusion of those ideas and feelings expressed by these languages” (Lolice. why certain ideas can be expressed in one language which cannot possibly be expressed in any other. The New York Times in 1907 published a series of critique focusing on the significance as well as ambiguities posed by the volume of 376 pages of Lolice’s work on comparative literature.) such as why three centuries should have separated the golden age of Italian literature from that of England. effacing the traditions of a picturesque past which will henceforth belong only to history. In recent years since the emergence of the decolonization movement and the post-colonial period. culture.Douglas Power in literature specifically in translation.
When one looks at comparative literature using a historical perspective. The massive entrance of this discipline led to the strengthening of criticisms posed by academicians as to the continuous significance and intellectual importance of comparative literature to the advancement of literature and progression of equity in the plane of arts and letters. For the subject to be authentic. . according to scholars. or movements should ideally be compared across linguistic boundaries. “The origins of comparative literature in the nineteenth century show an uneasy relationship between broad-ranging ideas of literature. for example. academicians. and this view lasted for a very long time” (5). a very active critique of comparative literature cited. and emerging national literatures. the activity of comparing had to be based on an idea of difference: texts. shaky and unstable specifically because it was a result of a bandwagon movement in the early nineteenth century Europe in search of the so-called national literature. and critics alike who are not convinced about the significance of this discipline say that it is too gargantuan a leap to undertake. the genesis of this field of study was at some point. Goethe’s notion of Weltliteratur. Attempts to define comparative literature tended to concentrate on questions of national or linguistic boundaries.developed continents offer basic as well as in-depth studies of comparative literature. Comparative Literature and Eurocentrism Comparative literature. it was felt. They say that the so-called comparatists or the faithful disciples of comparative literature zero in on familiarization and adaptation of broader literary and aesthetic spectrum that constitute social sciences and humanities merged into one to create a holistic analysis of two or more literary masterpieces and finding a binding force that unites these literary works together are plain romanticists. or writers. As what Susan Basnett.
filmic. Maria Tymoczko wrote an essay entitled Post-Colonial Writing and Literary Translation pointing out that when a literary translator works on a written text. and criticisms of art whether visual. there are still important factors that a translator considers when translating a text. mountainous amounts of researches poured in focusing on the injection of a Eurocentric perspective in judging and assessing the collected works in literature. or whatever. Eurocentrism is a way of looking at the world from a European perspective and with an implied belief. she further said that. This term has been coined during the so-called de-colonization movement during the late part of the twentiethcentury and has been since used as a tool for criticism on various aspects of political. social. either consciously or subconsciously.The strongest point of scholarly and academic criticisms that were strewn at comparative literature and. In the realm of translation and multilingualism. accounts in history. This undeniable use of European eyeglasses in looking at the world is very much apparent in comparative literature as well as post-colonial translation. in the pre-eminence and superiority of European culture.. paradoxically translations are at times produced for the source culture itself when. Issues about intended audience are often deceptive. according to them. During the postcolonial movement in humanities and social sciences. and literary analysis. Simply put. One is the audience and the second is inevitably. musical. though translation is seen as a harmless transfiguration of one language to the other. for example. he/she is translating a culture and not a language. patronage. “The demands of patronage are intertwined with questions of audience. In line with this. . could lead to the eventual demise of this discipline is its longrunning tendency to embrace the concept of Eurocentrism. which is an important element in translation norms and strategies.. say. a colonial language has become the lingua franca of a multicultural emergent nation or of a culture that has experienced a linguistic transition of some sort” (31).
but when we start to examine the premises upon which their translation practice was based. in the nineteenth-century. were far more gullible than educated European readers and did not make the same clear distinction between the rational and the fictitious…Both these translators were spectacularly successful. an English translation tradition developed. and later. She therefore postulated that “the subordinate position of the individual text and the culture that had led to its production in the first place was established through specific textual practices. Spain. This historical account which tells about a Catholic priests devoured by . The Arabs. edited. According to Tymoczko. what emerges is that they clearly saw themselves as belonging to a superior cultural system.During the seemingly perpetual occupation and colonization of European empires such as Portugal. 6). European culture” (Tymoczko. Simply put. France and Great Britain. translation. specifically postcolonial translation is not merely a process of transfiguring a text from one language to another. the manipulation of translation and translation studies where evident on the prejudiced notions that were incorporated on the text. victims of colonization by these superior nations. and published with extensive anthropological footnotes. This is about the infamous concept of Anthropophagy or commonly known as cannibalism: a practice that is sacred rather than inhumane and derogatory to the members of the Tupinamba tribe. in which texts from Arabic from Indian languages were cut. Susan Basnett cited a flawless example of a prejudiced Eurocentric perspective in judging the practices and spiritual beliefs of the natives whose land were conquered and grabbed by European colonizers. Translation was a means both of containing the artistic achievements of writers in other languages and of asserting the supremacy of the dominant. but a persistent inculcation of a dominant and superior culture to an inferior nation which were mostly once. Edward Lane informed readers in notes to his popular translation of the The Thousand and One Nights.
Subsequently. and entered the English language definitively in the Oxford English Dictionary (OED) of 1796. in her collection of essays titled Death of a Discipline passionately discussed about the hovering problem of a Eurocentric perspective in hindering the . Eric Cheyfitz. the starting point. Vicente Rafael sharply pinpointed the profoundly different meaning that translation held for different groups in the colonization process—that is the colonizers and the colonized. are still using the term to describe an act that was once viewed upon as holy and spiritual. Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak.members o f the tribe was horrifying for the people of Portugal and Spain and prompted them to deem it as the ultimate taboo in European Christianity. although this perspective was never entertained by the early Europeans and definitely even by most people of today’s generation. meaning ‘an eater of human flesh’ and naturally passed into other European languages. and may even be said to have been an act of homage. This association has a subconscious or subliminal meaning to those generations of people who. In the end. originally referring to a group of Caribs in the Antilles was associated with the Americas. 4). or ‘translations’ of Europe. is therefore less than its colonizers. until the present time. This is the basis of the so-called European Original wherein Europe was regarded as the great Original. The eating of the priest was not an illogical act on the part of the Tupinamba. by this definition. its original (Basnett. boldly said that translation was the “the central act of European colonization and imperialism in America” (104). A sharp critic of colonization. This term. the term cannibal was born referring to a person engaging in heinous and horrendous act of eating another human being. The colony. what was created was a name of the tribe and the name given to savage peoples who ate human flesh fused into a single term. and the colonies were therefore copies. which they were suppose to duplicate.
the old concept of the New World. In this light. It is the argument that the old version. the one that stands out in the context of the university is the conception of culture as based on the modern Europe notion of the nationstate. Haun Saussy stated that “a comparative literature department without confrontations is a collection of inert elements” and that comparatists are deemed fortunate to “inhabit a multi-polar profession” in a unipolar. per se. Rey Chow for this matter said that “the critique of Eurocentrism. Resolving Eurocentrism The basic argument of the proponents of the decline and inevitable demise of comparative literature as what has been mentioned on the first part of this research is not the notion that comparative literature is dead. on his essay titled. 225). the Eurocentric perspective of the commonly existing comparative literature should be replaced by. globalized world. Rey Chow deliberately said that “of all the prominent features of Eurocentrism. if it is . Rey Chow. comparative literature has been criticized for having concentrated on the literatures of a few strong nation-states in modern Europe” (109). In the Name of Comparative Literature advised the comparatists or disciples of comparative literature that “the active disabling of such reproduction of Eurocentrism…should be one of the comparative literature’s foremost tasks in the future (109). In similar vein. She obstinately stands on the belief that there is a politicised dimension to comparative literature.furtherance of comparative literature as a discipline. the South as well as the North (Hutcheon. what Linda Hutcheon and formerly supported by Haun Saussy the congenitally contrarian. The common challenge to comparatists and practitioners of comparative literature is to face head-on the need to go beyond its roots and to broaden the linguistic and cultural scope of its work to include the rest of the world: the East as well as the West.
“The original enterprise of comparative literature. Susan Basnett expounded this idea by saying that a just comparative literature should move beyond the parameters of Western literatures and societies and reposition itself within a planetary context (Basnett. Rather. Otherwise we will simply see. Crucial to the destruction of a Eurocentric perspective is the formulation of the idea called polyphony or plurivocality as opposed to an earlier model. One of the most extreme critics of comparative literature is Spivak and who of course wrote about the Death of Discipline citing that comparative literature needs to be radicalized and it should steer away from its Eurocentric origins.to be thorough and fundamental. 3). promoted by the colonial powers. “A new comparative literature will need to ‘undermine and undo’ the tendency of dominant cultures to appropriate emergent ones (Spivak. history of ideas is out-dated and needs to be rethought in the light of writing being produced in emergent cultures” (Basnett. 100). Planetarity can be imagined from within the precapitalist cultures of planet. cannot take place at the level of replacing one set of texts with another set of texts—not even if the former are European and the latter are Asian. Spivak is envisioning a world where other voices can now be heard. outside the global exchange flows determined by international business. movements. periods. African. of univocality. genres. the old Eurocentric models of language and literature study being reproduced ad infinitum in non-European language and literature pedagogy (109). zeitgeist. or Latin American. 3). which sought to read literature trans-nationally in terms of themes. as we have already been seeing. It is in this line that Spivak proposed the idea of planetarity in opposition to globalization which she argues involves the imposition of the same values and system of exchange everywhere. it must question the very assumption that nation-states with national languages are the only possible cultural formations that produce “literature” that is worth examining. .
cultural forces irradiate. Sometimes these nodes are . She said that “a decolonising of the European mind needs to take place not only in relation to its history of imperial domination over other continents. She contradicted the point of Basnett about the demise of comparative literature saying that the focus of Basnett’s criticism was for a discipline born out of the European nineteenth-century. 13). literary. artistic. but also in relation to the entirety of Europe and the historical relationships between its different geographical and geopolitical areas” (15).rather than one single dominant voice. lively. Lucia Boldrini supported the proposals of other defenders of the continuous existence of comparative literature in her published essay entitled Comparative Literature in the Twenty-First Century: A View from Europe and the UK. its redefinition of the nature of literature itself. According to Boldrini. more open. Boldrini’s stance regarding the survival of comparative literature is in similar vein with the rest of the discipline’s supporters. and its relocation in the wider field of the study of intercultural processes of which translation studies would furnish the principal model (to the point that comparative literature become for Basnett a sub-section of translation studies) (Boldrini. and which now would give way to a new. its focus on a direct relationship between literature and (national) identity. there are models which can help in the reconfiguration of the study of comparative literature. Valdes in their Rethinking Literary History. politically aware understanding of the discipline beyond its Eurocentric historical definition. One such example is the literary-historical comparative model described by Linda Hutcheon and Mario J. with its emphasis on national literatures. models which will embrace with new openness the richness and variety of its cultural. and linguistic heritage. where different cultures come into contact. where literary history is rethought ‘away from the concepts of nations and nationalism’ through the concept of nodal points . and from which different historical.
and discriminations that work as much in the “others” as in “us” (Chow. This is in line with the belief that expertise in various languages does not immediately erase the fact that the existing framework of literature is still entrenched in the murky realm of Eurocentrism. He although threw some kicks afterwards when he said that multilingualism does not necessarily free one from bigotry. In the case of Spivak. Spivak’s works were concentrated on her argument that . whose nationalities have changed through wars and subsequent border changes. This quite cynical assessment of Chow regarding multilingualism as not the answer to the Eurocentrism of World literature and comparative literature is also agreed upon by Spivak. The concept of multilingualism and multiculturalism is also supported by Rey Chow saying that comparatists should enforce a multilingual discipline citing a suggestion by Mary Louise in “Comparative Literature and Global Citizenship” that we should desist from thinking of non-English languages as “foreign” languages. the sheer enforcement of multilingualism cannot ensure that we educate our students about the power structures. et al). or sometimes they are geographical forces. or sometimes they are people. confronting a stubborn humanism that continues to organize cultural studies. visual. filmic. Chow said that “a multilingualism that was ‘Eurocentric’ before could easily incorporate within it the dimensions on non-European languages without coming to terms with the Eurocentrism of its notions of language and knowledge. Because of this. she proposed that it is the intervention into dominant discourses of multiculturalism traversing the arts and sciences. it is only proper that comparatists should have a sufficient knowledge of several languages for them to achieve a certain level of objectivity when they compare two or more sets of works of art (written. 111).cities. Boldrini suggested that because comparative literature is the study of different literary works across cultures and across nations. musical. hierarchies.
Spivak radicalizes this now pedestrian critique of comparative ethnocentrism and cultural essentialism by observing that while cultural analysis readily acknowledges the way comparison reifies the distinction it analyzes. which appeared in 1928. post-colonial translation. instruments for dissimulating and disfiguring the self rather than assimilating the other (Waggoner. “muscular Marxism. there is a tendency for this reification to endure without troubling the narcissism of the comparative gaze. The interest of comparison in cultural otherness not only generates knowledge and facilitates cross-cultural interaction. This persistence makes apparent an underlying humanism common to liberal multiculturalism. It enacts “the West” as a boundary that does not exist prior to comparison”(130). 130). was dated 374 years after the death of Father Sardinha. in short. Oswald de Andrade’s Manifesto Anthopofago. the comparing subject or culture.“literary comparison performs a kind of looking (at cultural others) which instantiates and reinforces the origin of the look. In a book edited by Susan Basnett and Harish Trivedi entitled Post-colonial Translation: Theory and Practice. . Susan Basnett. it cited a concept on how to decolonize comparative literature and along with it. Spivak’s purpose. a figure frequently mentioned and quoted when it comes to criticism of comparative literature wrote in her essay that “a fundamental question that comparative literature now needs to address concerns the role and status of the canonical and foundation texts that appear to be more highly valued outside Europe and North America than by a generation of scholars uneasy about their own history of colonialism and imperialism (5).e.” and social scientific rationalism. is to suggest the literary practices of reading and translation as counter-measures. It is about the metaphor dealing with the question on how the colonies could find a way to assert themselves and their own culture without at the same time rejecting everything that might be of value that came from Europe.. To shed light on this. i.
the cannibalized priest. there seems to be a perpetual head-on collision between comparative literature and translation studies specifically post-colonial translation. This academic jousting of which is superior and which one is the underdog in literature had been constantly featured in the writings of Susan Basnett who kept on lamenting about where comparative literature is going and if it is indeed walking in circles and kept on coming back to its point of origin. She . Basnett’s argument provoked intellectual arguments among literary figures and academicians alike and it initiated the outpouring of essays and researches to either support her or counter her point. with comparative literature as a valued but subsidiary subject area” (Basnett. It is the question of whether comparative literature exists symbiotically with translation studies or if they are two separate schools of thought that always traverse two parallel paths—existing side by side but would never meet and merge. letters. But in the end. proposed the metaphor of cannibalism as a way forward for Brazilian culture. the devouring could be perceived as both a violation of European codes an act of homage” (5). Many points were cited about the limitation and the dead-end fashion of comparative literature and many has bemoaned its certain demise in the world of arts. And at the same time. 6). Comparative Literature versus Translation Studies Susan Basnett’s Reflections on Comparative Literature in the Twenty-First Century is a fearless revelation of her so-called struggle with comparative literature all her academic life. Basnett went further to juxtapose translation studies and comparative literature appealing to people engaged in literature “to look upon translation studies as the principle discipline from now on. and especially the academe. “Only by devouring Europe could the colonized break away from what was imposed upon them.
by the Romanticism and post-romanticism. she argued that the subject was in its death throes. and plundered. she still has some criticisms regarding the feasibility of her propositions. is it at all clear where the discipline will move to next. She clarified by saying that “the basis of my case was that debates about a so-called crisis in comparative literature stemmed from a legacy of nineteenth-century positivism and a failure to consider the political implications of intercultural transfer processes. 5). She started by saying that “the relationship between comparative literature and translation has always been . Voltaire and the enlightenment. She stated that the paradigm offered by Spivak is particularly helpful for those who have as a starting point one or other of those great traditions. but whose works run inexorably to some degree through the consciousness of writing today (Basnett. by the Bible. plagiarized.” Susan Basnett.admitted that “engaging with the idea of comparative literature has not been easy nor. by the Germanic epic. by Dante and Petrarch. although she agrees with Spivak’s proposition saying that it works for anyone approaching the great literary traditions of the Northern Hemisphere from elsewhere. by Shakespeare and Cervantes. by Rousseau. by the European novelists of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. by generations of writers who have borrowed. In her 1993 book on comparative literature. translated. Lucia Boldrini from the University of London wrote an essay entitled Considerations on the Historical Relationships between Translation and Comparative Literature which highlighted the differences and similarities between translation and comparative literature. But her reservations lie on the question that remains as to “what the new directions in comparative literature there can be for the European scholar whose intellectual formation has been shaped by classical Greek and Latin. as we move forward in this new century.
in post-colonial theory. this argument did not linger because in one of latter essays. 1). However. With her extensive research on post-colonial translation. she stated that despite the decline of this discipline in the West.much debated. She said. Basnett’s self-criticism however did not lead to her return to the studies of comparative literature. She subsequently concluded that comparative literature and translation studies should not be deemed as a discipline or a field of study but . albeit under other labels. Rather. with comparative literature as a valued but subsidiary subject area” (161). or maybe their incompatibility” (Boldrini. She went as far as saying that her above statement was deliberately provocative and was as much about trying to raise the profile of translation studies as it was about declaring comparative literature to be defunct. “Comparative literature as a discipline has had its day. whether the primacy of the one or the other is declared. In the case of the argument posted by Susan Basnett. in cultural studies has changed the face of literary studies generally. Basnett herself criticized the above statement saying that it is ‘flawed’ owing to the fact that translation studies has not developed very far at all over three decades and comparison remains at the heart of most translation studies scholarship. Later on however. comparative literature elsewhere in the world. a different epiphany occurred to her wherein neither comparative literature nor translation studies claimed academic victory. was flourishing. Cross-cultural work in women’s studies. it was inevitable that she publish a work which contrasted comparative literature with translation studies where the latter was put in the pedestal while the other was relegated to a lower position. or their inextricable relation is asserted. We should look upon translation studies as the principle discipline from now on. she initially stood on the academic belief that comparative literature is on the gradual process of dying.
She highly recommended that a historical perspective should be given emphatic importance when analyzing texts for this can radically change the reading and alter the whole notion of comparison. Basnett further criticized the varying approaches in comparative literature such as the so-called French school of comparative literature in the twentieth-century and the approaches of comparatists in the United States saying that both of these schools of thought struggled with the idea of comparison itself. She said that “the act of comparing thus takes place both in terms of the ways in which individual scholars approach the same topic and then.is that neither comparative literature nor translation studies should be seen as a discipline: rather both are methods of approaching literature. Her main reason as to why she did not perceive comparative literature as a discipline sprang from her diagnosis of a crisis derived from excessive prescriptivism combined with distinctive culturally specific methodologies that could not be universally applicable or relevant. ways of reading that are mutually beneficial” (6). when the act of comparing happens during the reading process itself. She exemplified her argument by using the collected poems of Ezra . but the actual comparison comes through the juxtaposition of the diverse contributions and through the response of readers to that juxtaposition (Basnett. most significantly. Individual essays may make comparative points... rather than being set up a priori by the delimitation of the selection of specific texts (Basnett. in the reading process. the experience of readers when they languish on a text at hand. “What I would say.simply as a wagon that could transport readers to a path of literary enlightenment. getting caught up in definitions of boundaries. She stated. 7). Her concern with the nature of prescriptivism of the currently existing practice of comparative literature led her to focus more on the reading process itself and with it. “Where the subject starts to make sense and where it offers a genuinely innovative way of approaching literature is when the role of the reader is foregrounded. 7).
She said. they were transformed into war poems that spoke to the generation coping with the horrors of the trenches in Flanders” (Kenner. In the first place. she went on to use it to fortify her claim about translation as a field of study to attend to. or a field of study? She advised comparatists and comparative literature scholars .Pound entitled Cathay. a discipline. whereas once translation was regarded as a marginal area within comparative literature. This is one of the ways in which translation studies research has served comparative literature as well. if they can be called such. “The significance of Ezra Pound’s translations. She said that “Cathay is interesting because it highlights the way in which translation can serve as a force for literary renewal and innovation. Is it a subject. of Chinese poetry that resulted in his Cathay lies in how the poems were read when they appeared and in the precise historical moment when they were published” (8). which is what Pound intended them to be. Basnett wanted to elevate translation to higher plane because it can serve as an eye opener to people living in a highly globalized world to achieve a point of understanding of cultures that were once deemed as exotic and even obscure. but in the way they were received. Basnett supported Kenner by saying that the object of the comparative literature scholar is therefore to see these poems in a context and to compare them with other kinds of war poetry being produced at the same time. 202). now it is acknowledged that translation has played a vital role in literary history and that great periods of literary innovation tend to be preceded by periods of intense translation activity. With the citation she made on Cathay. The final point of Basnett against comparative literature is that she is suffering from what she calls a plague of uncertainty. she is not certain on how to classify comparative literature or what terminology to use when speaking about this topic. Hugh Kenner pointed out the same thing about Cathay saying that “the poems may have started out as translations of ancient Chinese verse.
Although there are widely respected critics and scholars alike who also expressed their discontent and lost of faith in the discipline. Conclusion The provocative statement of Susan Basnett regarding the inevitable demise of comparative literature is indeed flawed. one that foregrounds the role of the reader but which is always mindful of the historical context in which the act of writing and the act of reading take place. That history involves translation as a crucial means of enabling information flow.“that rather than seeing comparative literature as a discipline. and in realizing the inevitable interconnectedness that comes from literary transfer. Spivak who blatantly used the word death in describing the future of comparative literature did not also conclusively stated that the discipline is indeed dead.. it should be seen simply as a method of approaching literature. . scrutinizing. and a bit careless especially coming from a scholar and academician who spent a considerably large amount of time practicing. forward. The history of comparative literature lies in jettisoning attempts to define the object of study in any prescriptive way and in focusing instead on the idea of literature. She merely said that if comparative literature wanted to survive and progress. The common denominator among those who are against and for the continued existence of comparative literature is their criticism towards Eurocentrism.. 9-10). understood in the broadest possible sense.. there are still more literary masters who are marching behind comparative literature and with all their might. and dissecting a discipline that she once believed on and defended herself. pushing it upward. it should shift its perspective and inject a less prejudiced tone in comparing texts and other forms of artworks.. hence the need to position the history of translation centrally within any comparative literary study (Basnett. misled.
Boldrini. notions. A radicalization as well as democratization of comparative literature is what comparatists should work on to ensure that the discipline will not stay as an obsolete perspective in looking at world literature in the twenty-first century. “It is true of course that comparative literature has not always shown quite such a welcoming face to other literatures—particularly non-European ones—or to other fields. “Hopefully. theories.Spivak. with occasional readings in the literatures of China and Japan” (Bermann. and will . she admitted that majority of works collected about comparative literature mostly have not shown equanimity to literature across the globe. and period. “The comparative history of literature is history understood in its true sense as a complete explanation of the literary work. Comparative literature generally takes as its topics genre. 435). and academic suggestions to create a comparative literature that has a stable sense of universality which encompasses all native languages as equal and belonging to an even plane. language... Chow. But the continuous flow of literary works in comparative literature created a stronger sense of grip as to the supposed importance and significance of comparative literature as a discipline and as a field of study. seen in those connections and preparations that are its raison d etré (Croce. Bermann. believing it to be an obfuscatory term disguising the obvious: that the proper object of study was literary history. 222). And as what was added by Susan Basnett. encompassed in all its relationships. Hutcheon. A more hard-hit criticism of comparative literature came from the great Italian critic Benedetto Croce who was highly sceptical about the discipline. In the writings of Bermann. disposed in the composite whole of universal literary history (where else could it ever be placed?). literary scholars will follow where they lead. and even Basnett herself all directed their efforts in creating concepts. and the explorations of those topics are limited to European literatures.
Lucia. and definition. Sandra. 2009. Boldrini. “Conversations with Goethe. . 1995. Linda. 2006. “The Pound Era. mapping the history of writing and reading across cultural and temporal boundaries” (10). 1999. Hutcheon. Boldrini.abandon pointless debates about terminology. John Hopkins. Hugh. Bermann. “Post-Colonial Translation: Theory and Practice. Eckermann. “Comparative Literature: Congenitally Contrarian.” Kenner. “Working in the And Zone: Comparative Literature and Translation. Johann Peter. Susan & Trivedi Harish. Susan. In the Name of Comparative Literature. Eds. 1835.” London and New York.” London: Faber. Chow. 1972. Rey.” University of London. Works Cited Basnett.” University of Oregon.” Strich. “Reflections on Comparative Literature in the Twenty-First Century. 27. “Considerations on the Historical Relationships Between Translation and Comparative Literature.” Edinburgh University Press.” Edinburgh University Press. to focus more productively on the study of texts themselves. Lucia. Basnett. 2006. “Comparative Literature in the Twenty-First Century: A View from Europe and the UK.
A Short History of Comparative Literature: From the Earliest to the Present Day.Lolice. P. “A Review of Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak. New York: G. Frederico. Matt. Death of a Discipline. “Death of a Discipline. Waggoner. Putnam’s Sons. 1907.” New York: Columbia University Press. Gayatri Chakravorty. Spivak.” New York: Columbia. 2003. . 2003.