How to think of literary history in the 21st century in the Euro-Asian space?

1. Introduction. Comment penser l'histoire littéraire au XXe siècle dans l'espace euro-asiatique ?

Marie Vrinat-Nikolov.
"In our twenty-first century globalized, multinational and diasporic world, how can we explain the continuing appeal, not only, of the single-nation/single-ethnicity focus of literary histories, but also, of its familiar teleological model, deployed even by those writings the new literary histories, based on race, gender, sexual choice, or any number of other identitarian categories?" s'interrogeait en 2002 Linda Hutcheon dans un ouvrage consacré à « repenser l'histoire littéraire ». Ces questions se posent toujours, plus de quinze ans plus tard, et il nous a semblé très stimulant de réunir dans un volume des recherches portant sur l'histoire d'espaces littéraires très différents par l'espace-temps qui les caractérise, leur histoire, leur accession à un État-nation, leurs institutions, leur proximité ou leur éloignement avec ce que Pascale Casanova appelle le « méridien littéraire de Greenwich » (pour faire vite, New York, Londres, Berlin, Paris), l'héritage d'empires divers, etc. Ce qui rassemble les chercheurs qui ont accepté d'apporter leur contribution au débat, c'est la volonté de questionner l'historiographie littéraire telle qu'elle s'est pratiquée et se pratique encore dans ces espaces, proposer une autre écriture susceptible de susciter d'autres conceptions, d'autres visions, d'autres aspects. Leur réflexion est étayée par toutes celles qui ont vu le jour depuis les années 1990, à la fois en France, dans le monde anglophone, dans les espaces […]

2. "The Cradle of Dari": The Question of "Origins" in Modern Literary Historiography in Afghanistan

Wali Ahmadi.
Persian literatury has historically remained borderless, transcending any single polity or nationstate. In the modern period, however, nationalist reconfigurations of this literary tradition tend to ascribe to it a territorially bounded definition. Concurrent with the emergence of Persian as a scholarly discipline and a national institution in Iran and Afghanistan, Persian literary historiography has become a significant ground for contention and contestation. While Iranian scholars consider Persian literary history to epitomize the splendor of Iranian cultural heritage, Afghan scholars, in contrast, are keen to point out that the territory that constitutes Afghanistan can best claim to represent the “original” home of Persian literary efflorescence, the ground where Persian literary production emerged, developed, and came to full fruition. This paper offers a critical perspective on M. H. Zhubal’s Tarikh-i Adabiyat-i Afghanistan, a seminal and influential text of literary historical inquiry and philological investigation.

3. What’s the Use of a National Poet in the Times of Worldliterature?

Ioana Bot.
The present article attempts to reflect on the particular status currently “enjoyed” by Eminescu (an important poet for the end of European and Romanian romanticism), who continues to be celebrated in Romanian canonical and scholastic texts as “the national poet.” Today, just like one century ago, he functions as an authoritative political symbol for ideologies in search of local roots and legitimation. Furthermore, he serves as a national‑identity argument in debates completely unrelated to his literary work. Following my studies on this Romanian cultural myth, published over the past twenty years, I now turn to the new Romanian literary histories, the new literary dictionaries, supervised by the Romanian Academy, as well as to some other “officially”‑sanctioned texts, in order to see if (and how) Eminescu’s position in the history of Romanian literature is being reconsidered. What does the perpetuation of the national‑poet myth mean today for the Romanian literary history and for the identity crises experienced by Romanian culture?

4. The Overlooked of Russian Literary Historiography: for a female 19th century

Catherine Géry.
The literary histories of the Russian “great century,” the nineteenth century, have a museographic and patrimonial character, which gives full meaning to Roland Barthes’s reflection on literary historiography as a “ succession of single men.” However, the exclusion of women from the “ national narrative” that is Russian literary historiography is a real anomaly, because it corresponds neither to the reality of writing and publishing practices, nor to that of reading practices. Conceived at the crossroads of historiography (how it develops), literature (the manufacture of classics) and gender studies or women’s studies, this article attempts to understand the mechanisms of “invisibilisation” (or the “Matilda effect”) whose female writers of “the great Russian century” were victims. We will also look at two “case studies:” that of Anna Bunina, who was the first author to exist professionally in the Russian public literary space in the early nineteenth century, and that of Ekaterina Kniazhnina, the first woman to whom were opened the ways of publishing in Russia in 1759.

5. Postmodernism and Literary Canon: a Fortunate Encounter

Elena Guéorguiéva.
By addressing the question of literary canon trough its dual constitutive and representative function with regard to national identity, the author questions the conceptual opposition on which the relations between postmodernism and canon are founded in Serbian and Bulgarian literatures. In both those cultures postmodern thought and poetics contribute to challenge the traditional understanding of canon and history of literature. Serbian authors are criticised for being more interested in dialogue with foreign literatures and thus turning away from the national specificities which were, till then, usually put forward by literary criticism. The Bulgarian writers, on the contrary, gladly look back at the texts of the first Bulgarian classics but they do so by rewriting them in a parodic way in order to reveal the literary structure of the national myths. However, despite the apparent incompatibility between postmodernism and literary canon, their encounter during the last decades of the twentieth century played a key role in moving towards a new concept of history of literature which relies more than ever on the principles of polyphony and dialogism.

6. National and Comparative Literary Histories in Slovenia: Their Histories, Current Status and Prospects

Marko Juvan.
The article interprets literary history as a discourse involved in the identity policies of nations. From this point of view, the author presents the relations between national and comparative literary history in Slovenia. The paper outlines the origin and development of both disciplines, especially with regard to their implicit or explicit ideological underpinnings–cultural nationalism and cosmopolitanism. Until the end of the 20th century, national literary history as a “great genre” has interiorized the 19th century thrust of cultural nationalism, which also marked the institutionalization of literary historiography as a university discipline after 1919. Even though comparative literature has countered the apparently autarkic national conceptions of literary and cultural development, it produced another kind of “master narratives” through which it affirmed national identity–by providing records on the participation of Slovene literature in the “general European” currents and developmental stages. In this context, the article draws attention to the problem of belatedness of so‑called small literatures, especially in relation to the world literary system. In conclusion, the article addresses current dilemmas of literary historiography in Slovenia, which are partly specific (reticence to attempts to “reform” the discipline) and partly connected with the changes of literature and literary studies in the era of postmodern and globalization.

7. Literary History, Field-Formation and Transnational Spaces of Possibles Literature in the Space of Belarus in the 1920s: Literature in the Space of Belarus in the 1920s

Gun-Britt Kohler ; Pavel Navumenka.
As a literature that develops in the historically multi-ethnic and multi-confessional transitional space between Slavia latina and Slavia orthodoxa, the literature of Belarus challenges the validity of the “grand narrative” in a special way. At the same time, as a “small” literature, the development of which has taken place over the centuries and until recent times in the spheres of dominance of neighboring “bigger” literatures (Russian and Polish), Belarusian literature seems to reveal some problems of a transnational approach, which perpetuates mechanisms of exclusion and absorption. Based on these considerations, the article first outlines an alternative approach for a “grand narrative” based on the parameters of cultural space, open chronology, and institutional development. Within the framework of this model is then systematically examined the transnational potential of Belarusian literature from an institutional perspective, using literary development in the 1920s as an example. This shows that the transnational potential resulting especially from multilingualism is superimposed institutionally and ideologically by the concept of the “multi-nationality” of proletarian literature, with different languages pre-structuring different “Spaces of possibles.” The realization of transnational spaces of possibles seems to be open above all to Jewish authors, as the case study on Samuil Plaŭnik (Zmitrok Bjadulja) shows.

8. Notes on the History of Turkish Literature from the Tanzimat (1839) to the “Revolution of the Letters” (1928)

Laurent Mignon.
Turkish literary historiography seems to have espoused the definition of “Turkishness”, established at the time of independence in 1923, which regarded as Turkish any person of Muslim faith residing within the borders of the country, regardless of their ethnic origin and mother tongue, and has imposed it retrospectively on the multicultural world of Ottoman Turkish literature. Indeed, non-Muslim authors writing in Turkish have been excluded from the history of literature. However, as is highlighted in the first part of this article, many exchanges took place between the Turkish Muslim intelligentsia and non-Muslim Turkish-speaking intellectuals. Addressing the issue of minor literature in the Ottoman context, the second part presents Armeno-Turkish, Karamanli Turkish, Judeo-Turkish and Syro-Ottoman literatures in dialogue with Ottoman Turkish literary culture. Noting that non-Muslim writers writing with the Perso-Arabic alphabet are also largely absent from literary histories, the article addresses in the third part the impact of the “revolution of the letters”, the adoption of the Latin alphabet in 1928. This contributed not only to the occultation of the minor literatures of Ottoman Turkey, but also to that of women’s and popular literatures as well as of the Turkish Ottoman progressive tradition.

9. Rethinking the Georgian Literary Field in the Second Half of the 19th Century: The Role of European Cultural Transfers

Tamara Svanidzé.
The present work questions the logic and the functioning of the flows of importation in the field of literature in the second half of the 19th century, using the concept of cultural transfers, as developed by Michel Espagne and Michael Werner, along with Pierre Bourdieu’s concept of the literary field. These methodological perspectives allow us to relativize the canonical vision of Georgian literature and to illuminate the role played by the importation of European works in the organization and evolution of the internal literary field. My analysis of critical discourse and of paratexts reveals how much literary transfers enabled Georgian literature to renew itself and actively participated in the configuration of the host system, while at the same time contributing to the reinforcement of the positions that structure the Georgian intellectual field of the time. This field has witnessed the arrival of a new conception of literature conveyed by the reformist intelligentsia that relegates traditional practices to the periphery of the system, and and has become divided between literature in conformity with aesthetic norms and current ideologies and the “sub‑field.” By clarifying the motivations that have led to the selection and interpretation of European texts and authors, I hope to offer a better comprehensive perspective on the different facets of this field and on the power relations that constitute it.

10. Re-Thinking the Literary Clocks of the World, giving space to time (The Case of Bulgaria)

Marie Vrinat-Nikolov.
Since postcolonial studies and the renewal of questions about World literature, literary history can no longer be confined to a national perspective. Addressing the literary fact in a transnational and transdisciplinary approach opens up fertile perspectives. In my research on the history of the Bulgarian literary space, one of the points that seems crucial to me because it has not been sufficiently studied is the question of literary temporality. How can we escape from “Western European centrism” without neglecting the fact that Paris, London, Berlin, New York are the “Literary Greenwich” (Casanova)? How can we put into perspective without compaing them in terms of “advance” or “backwardness” the temporalities of each literary space within the global space? This is what I am trying to sketch by injecting geography (or even geology) into literary history.

11. Bilingualism and Diglossia in Bulgaria-a New Perspective upon Their Contemporary State

Gueorgui Armianov.
The article examines some particular forms of diglossia and bilinguism in Bulgaria. It takes into account the evolution of Bulgarian society over the last thirty years and the processes of language interference associated with the political changes, or influenced by them. The analysis is directed mainly at the slow disappearance of the regional dialects and their gradual and systematic replacement by other substandard forms such as colloquial speech, urbanolects or to some extent social dialects. Special attention is paid to the Turkish language in Bulgaria which enters into more complex relationships with the standard language and represents a specific and very interesting case of bilingualism, combined with diglossia.

12. Body, Flesh and Soul in Vladislav Khodasevich’s Poetry

Emmanuel DEMADRE.
Even in Putëm zerna [Grain’s Way] (where in moments of mystical fullness the world appears transfigured), Khodasevich’s poetic work is dominated by a dualistic worldview, which ultimately relates to the mystical idealism of the Russian Symbolists inspired by Vladimir Solovyov. Such an attitude to the world is realized first of all in the dualism Body (“Me”) / Soul (Spirit), where the body is perceived as an “envelope”, from which the soul can get free only with great difficulty. In Tjažëlaja lira [The Heavy Lyre], the dualism “Me” (Body) / Soul grows up, and the poet’s mystical aspiration turns into painful effort towards the attainment of transcendence. The physical intensity of this effort is so strong that it becomes practically pathological. Since the body symbolises the imprisonment in the world that the poet rejects, the interior dichotomy Body/Soul exacerbates with the poet’s perception of the dualism earthly World/another World. The “inert” material that is transcended by the poet‑«Orpheus» in «Ballada», the final poem of Tjažëlaja lira, gives place in Evropejskaja noč’ [European Night] to the world that is crashed by materiality, while the expressionist vision of the “German cycle” is dominated by violence and a degrading sexuality. The rejection of Body and the disgust for Flesh is contrasted in Khodasevich’s poetic work with the image of a foetus and its life in the mother’s womb. The poet associates this image with the “native, original world” of […]

13. About the reception of Sorana Gurian’s literary work in Romania

Tomasz Krupa.
The case of Sorana Gurian (1913‑1956) allows to examine the situation of multiple exclusion in the 20th century European society: she is a Jewish woman, a stranger accused of espionage and collaboration and her body, disabled and affected by cancer, becomes the main culprit of this plural banishment. The author is a tragic figure: not only because of her life, but also due to the oblivion that her oeuvre fell into – yet original and contemporarily recognized – counting six volumes in French and Romanian and dozens of press publications. In the paper, I propose to read chosen literary chronicles commenting on two Gurian’s editions published in Romania in 1945‑1946 – Zilele nu se întorc niciodată [Days that never return] and Întâmplări între amurg și noapte [Adventures between twilight and night]. These chronicles show the way in which the Other was perceived, in this case – a woman writer, a disabled woman or a Jewish woman in the 20th century. Such perspective aims to show the non‑ aesthetic conditions (gender, corporality, social class, political convictions, ethnic origin, etc.) which have determined Gurian’s appearance and disappearance in the literary scene, and which still influence the way of perceiving her texts in Romania. At the end of this study, I reflect on the possibility of rehabilitating this figure in the history of European literature, that could renew the Romanian literary canon of the 20th century, in which women writers haven’t still found […]