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3001CN0TES Spivak's planetarity, on the other hand, shares at least one salient quality with the Old Comparative Literature that she professes to reject: its centripetal and selfconscious sense of being a traditional force preserving borders—its own and its texts'—from the onslaught of globalization's coercive sameness. Comparative literature turns out to be not so easily cleaved from its nationalist origins. Thus does Spivak's "planetarity" deconstruct itself, for in order to preserve its own disciplinary borders from the apocalypse ofa globalized world literature in English, comparative literature finds itselfretreating into an argument for difference that willy-nilly preserves national identities in one form or another. Whither nationalism? Here it finds itselfreinscribed, albeit in a subtler, more "planetary" form, as Spivak circles the wagons against both English and the global. Despite Spivak's cogent and necessary arguments for comparative literature as a corrective supplement to "the apparitions ofCultural and Ethnic Studies" (70) and the facile generalizations ofmuch ofpostcolonial studies, it is perhaps unavoidable that her concluding attempt at an expansive gesture undermines itself. As Spivak stands in the place and name ofthe man who once called for comparative literature to act as "a preserver and creator ofthe highest values ofmankind" (Wellek 295), she can muster only a fuzzy, ambivalent move towards telepoiesis: In this era ofglobal capital triumphant, to keep responsibility alive in the reading and teaching of the textual is at first sight impractical. It is, however, the right ofthe textual to be so responsible, responsive, answerable . The "planet" is here, as perhaps always, a catachresis for inscribing collective responsibility as right. Its alterity, determining experience, is mysterious and discontinuous—an experience ofthe impossible. It is such collectivities that must be opened up with the question "How many are we?" when cultural origin is detranscendentalized into fiction—the toughest task in the diaspora. (101-2) This final gesture ofSpivak's Wellek Lectures confirms one last time the recurring structure of comparative literature's brave, doomed stand against the apocalypse, which neverturns out to be quite final—yet anothermessage in a bottle, sent offto "a future reader" (93), to be read and reenacted, again and again. Alfred López77ie UniversityofMississippi BOOKNOTES KATE A. BALDWIN. Beyondthe ColorLine andtheIron Curtain: Reading Encounters between Black and Red, 1922-1963. Durham: Duke UP, 2002. xii + 346 pp. The period referred to in the second title ofKate Baldwin's significant and highly readable work is in and ofitselfindicative ofthe historical shifts in politics, race relations, and the place ofthe intelligentsia in Russia and the US during the first half ofthe twentieth century. For Russia, this period covers the very early days of an emerging Soviet Union through the beginnings ofthe Cold War and the controversial reforms ofNikita Khrushchev, while the US at that time moves from the era of the speakeasy to the Civil Rights Movement. In the interim both countries will Vole 28 (2004): 162 THE COMPAKATIST endure the Second World War and crises ofidentity for large portions ofthe population while minority (i.e., non-white) peoples struggle with social, political, and economic inequities imbedded in each respective country. Baldwin deftly weaves her argument and commentary around the lives and works offour brilliant AfricanAmericans who all crossed both the color line and the Iron Curtain to have an impact in Russia and the Soviet Union as well as in the US. Baldwin's choice ofClaude McKay, Längsten Hughes, W.E.B. Du Bois, and Paul Robeson allows her to comment simultaneously on the international import of race and society as well as to trace the Civil Rights history ofthe American Left and its place in the creation ofScviet propaganda at home and in the West. Her choice oftexts for these writers and thinkers is excellent—drawing from both High Culture and popular cultural artifacts—as she eschews the best known and most discussed works in favor oflesser known and more revealing treatises and essays published during and after the writers' visits abroad and to Russia. She does well to use the experience ofeach in another country to contextualize the writers' attitude toward race, politics, and society abroad. She does less well, however, in relating the same attitudinal mix to the US...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1559-0887
Print ISSN
0195-7678
Pages
pp. 162-163
Launched on MUSE
2012-10-03
Open Access
No
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