Absinthe 24 pushes and prods Hellenism beyond its geographic and cultural comfort zones, and sets it tumbling off beyond both internal and external borders of its nation-state, in a wide-ranging but always site-specific and localized itinerary. At each stop along the way, this Greekness finds its plurals—hence the “Hellenisms” of the title. While they present no unified topography, tongue or even topic, these Hellenisms map out the contours of a shared conversation. Today’s Hellenism isn’t limited to Hellas, nor to the Hellenic language. The selected texts in this volume explore Greece from the perspective of visitors, displaced persons, and marginalized people looking in, or, conversely, from the perspective of locals striving to break out.
Absinthe: A Journal of World Literature in Translation publishes foreign literature in English translation, with a particular focus on previously untranslated contemporary fiction, poetry, and creative non-fiction by living authors. The magazine has its home in the Department of Comparative Literature at the University of Michigan and is edited by graduate students in the Department, as well as by occasional guest editors.
Edited by Megan Berkobien and María Cristina Hall, Barings // Bearings collects sixteen pieces of contemporary women’s writing in Catalan together with the brilliantly understated illustrations of the artist Elisa Monsó.
This special issue of Absinthe witnesses a living, Catalan language through the emotional labor of translation. It is also a testament to the thriving worlds of women’s writing in Catalan, with time-travelling fiction by Bel Olid (tr. Bethan Cunningham), regrets on pregnancy sublimated into an airborne taxi ride in a story by Tina Vallès (tr. Jennifer Arnold), Mireia Vidal-Conte’s poetry reflecting on Virginia Woolf’s suicide (tr. María Cristina Hall), a story of revenge on an abusive elderly woman by Anna Maria Villalonga (tr. Natasha Tanna), as well as reflections on war, bookstores, and generational conflict in post-Franco Spain. These often surreal pieces of Catalan fiction are informed by several essays and works of literary memoir, including those by Marta Rojals (tr. Alicia Meier) on the state of the Catalan language and Najat El Hachmi (tr. Julia Sanches) on the conditions of growing up in Catalonia as the daughter of Moroccan parents. These latter pieces resist and explore the contours of multilingualism, highlighting the intra- and interlingual reality of spoken Catalan alongside Spanish and Amazigh. Barings // Bearings invokes the feeling of a people through the work of a new generation of translators.
Mariano Siskind’s groundbreaking debut book redefines the scope of world literature, particularly regarding the place of Latin America in its imaginaries and mappings. In Siskind’s formulation, world literature is a modernizing discursive strategy, a way in which cultures negotiate their aspirations to participate in global networks of cultural exchange, and an original tool to reorganize literary history. Working with novels, poems, essays, travel narratives, and historical documents, Siskind reads the way Latin American literary modernity was produced as a global relation, from the rise of planetary novels in the 1870s and the cosmopolitan imaginaries of modernism at the turn of the twentieth century, to the global spread of magical realism. With its unusual breadth of reference and firm but unobtrusive grounding in philosophy, literary theory, and psychoanalysis, Cosmopolitan Desires will have a major impact in the fields of Latin American studies and comparative literature.
Strategic Occidentalism examines the transformation, in both aesthetics and infrastructure, of Mexican fiction since the late 1970s. During this time a framework has emerged characterized by the corporatization of publishing, a frictional relationship between Mexican literature and global book markets, and the desire of Mexican writers to break from dominant models of national culture.
In the course of this analysis, Ignacio M. Sánchez Prado engages with theories of world literature, proposing that “world literature” is a construction produced at various levels, including the national, that must be studied from its material conditions of production in specific sites. In particular, he argues that Mexican writers have engaged in a “strategic Occidentalism” in which their idiosyncratic connections with world literature have responded to dynamics different from those identified by world-systems or diffusionist theorists.
Strategic Occidentalism identifies three scenes in which a cosmopolitan aesthetics in Mexican world literature has been produced: Sergio Pitol’s translation of Eastern European and marginal British modernist literature; the emergence of the Crack group as a polemic against the legacies of magical realism; and the challenges of writers like Carmen Boullosa, Cristina Rivera Garza, and Ana García Bergua to the roles traditionally assigned to Latin American writers in world literature.
Though the practice of self-translation long predates modernity, it has found new forms of expression in the global literary market of the late twentieth and early twenty-first century. The international renown of self-translating authors Samuel Beckett, Joseph Brodsky, and Vladimir Nabokov has offered motivation to a new generation of writers who actively translate themselves.
Intervening in recent debates in world literature and translation studies, Writing It Twice establishes the prominence and vitality of self-translation in contemporary French literature. Because of its intrinsic connection to multiple literary communities, self-translation prompts a reexamination of the aesthetics and politics of reading across national lines. Kippur argues that self-translated works should be understood as the paradigmatic example of world literature and, as such, crucial for interpreting the dynamics of literary circulation into and out of French.