After Translation: The Transfer and Circulation of Modern Poetics across the Atlantic

By Ignacio Infante | Go to book overview

Afterword. The Location of Translation:
The Atlantic and the (Relational) Literary
History of Modern Transnational Poetics

Poetry’s circulation and its action no longer conjecture a given people but
the evolution of the planet Earth. That too is a commonplace, one worth
repeating. We have to know that this activity pinpointed here in French
literatures operates for all the others, each time on the basis of a different
perspective. Every expression of the humanities opens onto the fluctuating
complexity of the world. Here poetic thought safeguards the particular,
since only the totality of truly secure particulars guarantees the energy of
Diversity. But in every instance this particular sets about Relation in a
completely intransitive manner, relating, that is, with the finally realized
totality of all possible particulars
.

—ÉDOUARD GLISSANT, “Poetics,” in Poetics of Relation

It appears that Paul Gilroy’s crucial argument in The Black Atlantic (1993) that “cultural historians could take the Atlantic as one single, complex unit of analysis in their discussions of the modern world and use it to produce an explicitly transnational and intercultural perspective” (15) still has not registered within the scholarly discourse of transnational literary studies in the United States. Twenty years after Gilroy proposed a holistic approach to Atlantic studies in what constitutes perhaps the foundational work in the field, scholars working on various facets of transatlantic culture and literature have not generally adopted that framework. Instead of “one single, complex unit of analysis” we have many parallel but divergent scholarly areas of transatlantic analysis that glaringly tend to ignore each other. Currently there is an AngloAmerican version of “transatlantic literary studies,” recently defined as “an examination of communications between Britain and the Americas” (Bannet and Manning 2012, n.p.); a version of “Estudios transatlánticos” that generally focuses on the relations between Spain and Latin America within Hispanic studies; as well as transatlantic area studies mostly focusing on political, economic, social, and security relations between

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