JOURNAL OF MODERN LITERATURE SPECIAL ISSUE 37.1—Cosmopolitan Modernism, Polylingual Strategies and Cultural Hybridity
In Against Sainte-Beuve, Marcel Proust famously stated that all great works of literature were written in a kind of foreign language. Closer to us, Jorge Luis Borges modulated an initial grand assessment about metaphors in “Pascal’s Sphere.” Borges begins in a major key: “Perhaps universal history is the history of a few metaphors,” but ends in a minor key: “Perhaps universal history is the history of the various intonations of a few metaphors.” These various intonations are often foreign intonations, as most of the contributors to this issue devoted to cosmopolitan modernism, polylingual strategies, and cultural hybridity, make clear. Following Jacques Derrida’s example, we need to learn to think in more than one language, which also means learning to experience more than one identity.
A broader hospitality to verbal, linguistic, ethnic and conceptual otherness defines our contemporary perception of the modern: it appears as more internationalist than Anglo-American since it has expanded, crossing conceptual and geographical borders in order to turn into today’s diasporic and dialogic modernity. Such modernity relies on more than one language, more than one accent, more than one skin color. What is more, it is founded on a renewed sense of the marginalized, whether via figures of the exotic or the exilic. This is why most modernist authors still sound like contemporaries. Their works talk to our current concerns with the politics of exile, displacement, homelessness, and a globalized ostranenie.
READ FOR FREE: Maria Kager, A Search for the Viscous and Sawdust: (Mis)pronunciation in Nabokov's American Novels (pp. 77-89).
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/10.2979/jmodelite.37.1.77