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Author Topic: World Republic of Letters
robbie_dee
rabble-rouser
Babbler # 195

posted 04 January 2005 02:25 AM      Profile for robbie_dee     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
quote:
What are you doing? I mean, right now. You're reading a book review. A review of a book that, as it happens, is almost certain to become quite famous among intellectuals around the world over the next few years. And the reason it will become so famous is, in part, because of reviews like this one. After all, Perry Anderson, writing in the London Review of Books, has proclaimed that La République mondiale des lettres "is likely to have the same sort of liberating impact...as Said's Orientalism, with which it stands comparison"--a prophecy that, because it is by Perry Anderson, and because it is the London Review of Books, is, to an extent, self-fulfilling. So by reading this review--becoming one of the people who've heard of the book, who've begun to form an opinion about it, who might even buy it, read it, discuss it, cite it--you're not only learning about its impending fame, you're becoming part of the process by which that fame is established, a process the book itself calls "legitimation." (Translation, the act that has turned La République mondiale des lettres into The World Republic of Letters, is another step in that process.) And this is perfectly apt, because the mechanisms of legitimation--the global economy of prestige that ushers some authors into the international literary sphere while keeping others shut out--is exactly what Pascale Casanova's brilliant, groundbreaking book is all about.

Review of Pascal Casanova, THE WORLD REPUBLIC OF LETTERS (M.B. DeBevoise, trans.), by William Deresiewicz, The Nation 1/3/05.


From: Iron City | Registered: Apr 2001  |  IP: Logged
jeff house
rabble-rouser
Babbler # 518

posted 04 January 2005 01:12 PM      Profile for jeff house     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
I think Babble should get Lagatta to review this book.

I myself have heard of the review, and thus the book. Since I like Perry Anderson, I tentatively conclude that the book is "good."

By the way, the author's general intention to describe legitimation reminds me of Bourdieu's book "The Science of Science and Reflexivity", which attempts something similar for social sciences, and to some extent natural sciences too.


From: toronto | Registered: May 2001  |  IP: Logged
lagatta
rabble-rouser
Babbler # 2534

posted 04 January 2005 01:19 PM      Profile for lagatta     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
Translation as legitimation? ... Hmm. It does sound very interesting - to put in the pile of books I have to read. I have a good ten books to read, given to me by the authors ...
From: Se non ora, quando? | Registered: Apr 2002  |  IP: Logged
skdadl
rabble-rouser
Babbler # 478

posted 04 January 2005 02:50 PM      Profile for skdadl     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
Well, I've now read the article about the review of the book, so ... I would take what follows with more than a few grains of salt.

(And I actually have read some Casanova, except that was the other one. I wonder whether she's a descendant.)

Deconstructions of the process of legitimation, along with its longer-term grandpappy, canonization, are always useful, of course, so it will be interesting to see how well she does that.

Forgive me for saying that this doesn't sound all that, ah, new, though. Perhaps in works that reach a popular market, but the influences of some now pretty well -- how can I put this? -- legitimized, not to say canonical works (Braudel, Foucault, Derrida, etc) seem obvious.

The range of her allusions sounds impressive, and perhaps to make the sort of historico-sociologico-philosophico argument she wants to make, range is what counts. But the details of her actual readings, as reported by Mr Deresiewicz, aren't all that encouraging, and even some of the history sounds bad.

I, for instance, was chewing nails to see all those ancient cliches about Herder trotted out once again. Memories of Isaiah Berlin -- and in a way, Foucault as well.

From what Deresiewicz says, she is more than a little shaky on the Italian and English C16, C17. The Shakespeare stuff: very funny.

And as usual, I am thrown into despair by anyone who insists on writing straight-line history. So many of these things are cyclical, in every sort of history -- the corsi and the ricorsi, as Vico taught us.

I mean, it's not as though we are the first to fuss over legitimation and canonization.

Still, I can see that a book like this could have an impact and a value rather like Foucault's works. Foucault, to me, never broke free of the very old-fashioned historical framework that had been drummed into him by the storied French classical education. Nevertheless, within that framework, he raised and disassembled issues seldom treated before and never with such subtlety, and thereby made that history dance as it never had before.

Perhaps Casanova can do something similar.

I wouldn't know, though. I haven't read her book.


From: gone | Registered: May 2001  |  IP: Logged
jeff house
rabble-rouser
Babbler # 518

posted 04 January 2005 06:35 PM      Profile for jeff house     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
quote:
I have a good ten books to read, given to me by the authors

So you will be undertaking this as project # 11?

Cool.


From: toronto | Registered: May 2001  |  IP: Logged

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