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??? COHPAnATIST EDITOR'S COLUMN: COMPARATIVE LITERATURE BETWEEN THE WEST AND THE WORLD This issue of 77ie Comparatist, the twenty-fifth since Harry Rutledge encouraged Jeanne Smoot to found the journal in 1977, offers a good occasion to review our place within literary study in the United States. The anniversary bibliography at the end of this volume, with over two hundred items, reveals a widening ofhorizons that includes many ofthe new trends highlighted a few years ago in the Bernheimer Report to the American Comparative Literature Association. Traditional topics, like "Greco-Roman Legacies," "Cross-Cultural and Intertextual Relations Among Western Traditions," or "Comparative Studies in Twentieth-Century Western Literature," certainly persist. But they have increasingly been joined by "European/Non-European Literary Relations," "Third World, Afro-Caribbean, and Eastern European Comparative Studies," and "Inter-American Literary Exchanges," the last of which cuts across the tendency to place the literatures of the US or Latin America in European contexts. After its revival foUowing the second World War, comparative literature in this country aimed mainly to reconnect the literatures of the West, either in their own right or through their roots in classical antiquity . But since the 1960s, with decolonization, the new waves of immigration , and a more marked internationalization ofthe American academy , the field has worked to meet the challenge of gaining a world-wide perspective. In 77ie Comparatist, however, this geocultural shift has not been quite so dramatic, perhaps because the "worlding" of comparative studies was already under way when the journal was founded. Even early issues had essays on the reception of Nigerian writers and the translation of Chinese poetry, while (on the other hand) we remain committed to publishing studies of the Western tradition. Beyond its interUngual and cross-cultural emphases, moreover, the journal has also provided a venue for comparing Uterature with other arts, relying mainly on examples from Western music, the visual arts, and film. This interarts focus has lately expanded to include interdiscursive studies of how Uterary works engage with topics in philosophy, history, or science. Against this background, this year's Comparatist interweaves traditional and recent, Western and more world-wide forms of comparative study. We lead offwith an essay by Werner WunderUch, a German scholar based in Switzerland, on the historical, poUtical, and music-historical contexts for Mozart's last opera, La clemenza di Tito. Studying portrayals of Titus from Metastasio's influential libretto to Mozart and on into the nineteenth century, WunderUch reveals the changing significance of executive clemency in imperial Rome, under EnUghtenment absolutism, and after the French Revolution. By concentrating on opera, the interart genre par exceUence, while analyzing a motif from the West's classical heritage, he shows the continued vitality of two deep-rooted interests of VcH. 25 (2001): 1 EDITOR'S COLUMN this journal. If the essay's many primary sources suggest parallels between German reception study and American new historicism, its cultural range recalls the purview of such influential European-trained comparatists from the postwar period as Auerbach, Spitzer, or Wellek. Shifting from the Western subject-matter ofWunderUch's essay, the next unit takes up two examples of European/non-European relations. Donald Wehrs and Roy Chandler Caldwell, Jr., both focus on the role played by masters ofmodern Western fiction in novels of the 1980s that dramatize encounters between the West and specific cultures in the Southern Hemisphere. For Wehrs, the Cameroonian noveUst-phüosopher Bernard Nanga's La Trahison de Marianne depicts a complex cultural itinerary that goes weU beyond the African protagonist's disiUusionment with what he once considered the universalizing, humanistic promise of Western modernity. In the course of a psychic ordeal that can be analyzed in terms ofJulia Kristeva's work on melanchoUa, Nanga's character subUminaUy recapitulates traditional African initiation practices while simultaneously drawing on insights from André Gide's writings, especiaUy Les Faux-Monnayeurs. Gide, in turn, has given a modernist inflection to a Western humanist tradition reaching back through Montaigne and Dante to classical antiquity. In the wake of colonial inequities, Nanga's novel points to areas of fruitful overlap between significant Western and non-Western traditions. In CaldweU's essay, by contrast, the potential for such cross-fertilization seems...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1559-0887
Print ISSN
0195-7678
Pages
pp. 1-4
Launched on MUSE
2012-10-03
Open Access
No
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