All the Difference in the World: Postcoloniality and the Ends of Comparison

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Stanford University Press, 2007 - Literary Criticism - 278 pages
This book is about culture and comparison. Starting with the history of the discipline of comparative literature and its forgotten relation to the positivist comparative method, it inquires into the idea of comparison in a postcolonial world. Comparison was Eurocentric by exclusion when it applied only to European literature, and Eurocentric by discrimination when it adapted evolutionary models to place European literature at the forefront of human development. This book argues that inclusiveness is not a sufficient response to postcolonial and multiculturalist challenges because it leaves the basis of equivalence unquestioned. The point is not simply to bring more objects under comparison, but rather to examine the process of comparison. The book offers a new approach to the either/or of relativism and universalism, in which comparison is either impossible or assimilatory, by focusing instead on various forms of incommensurability comparisons in which there is a ground for comparison but no basis for equivalence. Each chapter develops a particular form of such cultural comparison from readings of important novelists (Joseph Conrad, Simone Schwartz-Bart), poets (Aimé Césaire, Derek Walcott), and theorists (Edouard Glissant, Jean-Luc Nancy).

 

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Contents

Conrad and Colonial Narration
44
Dissimilated Reading
84
Epic Similitude and the Pedagogy
113
Catastrophic Miniaturization
170
Notes
229
Bibliography
257
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About the author (2007)

Natalie Melas is Associate Professor of Comparative Literature at Cornell University.

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