Editorial Debates

I fear World Republic of Losers, though it speaks to the soul, does lose out to World Lite, which is very portable and also captures the piece's respect for literature and disappointment in its low-cal, taste-free varieties.

On the “World Literature” Intellectual Situation. Issue 17.

As always, these are actual emails from actual editors.

A few words of explanation about the IS [Intellectual Situation]. The good news is we have a draft. The bad news is that even with my slashing a graf and a half and making innumerable small cuts, the piece is like 8300 words.

Who is the writer Mazzini on p3? I’m familiar with the Italian statesman/politician/activist by that name and the novelist Manzoni, but I didn’t know the statesman was also a writer of literature.

Mazzini a journalist, in the Herzen way, founded several journals, etc.

on p4 this clause,”the terrifying image of classes consigned to the dustbin,” seems unnecessary. Maybe because I can’t read ‘consigned to the dustbin’ without wanting to consign that phrase to the dustbin.

I’d suggest shortening the end. My heart sinks a little when I read that the project of Internationalist Lit has to be ‘Opposition.’ Why must the Left always be in opposition? Let’s imagine that there’s nothing really to oppose, only a blank slate out of which we may create…I think the historical failure of the left has a lot to do with the way it constantly conceives itself ‘in opposition.’

I like opposition! Though I understand the concern—is “opposition” just a left-wing piety? I don’t know…

I’d say the left does need to be oppositional until it’s hegemonic. Which we could maybe say, though hegemonic has become kind of a cant word.

I think the parts about the university are some of the weakest. It seems the phenomenon observed where the university begins to infect the writing of World Lit authors as soon as they get hired—well, that doesn’t really have anything specific to do with World Lit. Doesn’t that happen to tons of writers, worldly and not, once they get hired? I think it is fine to mention the way the university serves to kind of rein in these writers after they publish their first books, to make them safe, etc., but I don’t think the relationship between the university and World Lit is actually specific to World Lit in the broad ways the piece describes.

I disagree! The way the university acts as a place of refuge for writers, particularly exiles, and then inflates particular themes around world literature is different in specific ways. In fact, in MFA vs NYC, we basically said something different, right? That one couldn’t predict whether a book was from MFA vs NYC, because MFA programs require no work of the profs, and also because their influence is so big that you can’t tell the difference even if you were to try.

Like what if you give the Wellek theory lectures?? But they suck!! Because you’re not good at theory, and also no longer good at literature!!! (to put things schematically????)

The other thing is, it’s not a happy fate for everyone to escape the university. Rushdie and Naipaul do, in our telling, and look what happens to them. They get fat! No more free gym access, I suppose.

No bodysnarking please. False equivalence of the fat and the fatuous. Let’s not confuse our readers!

About making some fun of Goethe. I have never met anyone who has enjoyed reading, or read much of, the super famous Goethe, except for one person who read him in German. To me he’s the author of some famous quotes. Which I paste into IS pieces from Wikipedia.

Hi most of this discussion way over my head but I just want to come out in favor of the goethe joke. Is good joke. Although I did meet someone the other day who’d read both werther and elective affinities!
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The production team would like to note that we have read both werther and elective affinities.

I mean to read Elective Affinities!

I’ve read like ten of Goethe’s books. I still don’t get what makes him so great—other than the poetry. Or it’s just that he’s too much of an eighteenth century writer for us to like him, but enough of a nineteenth century writer that we expect to understand him more easily?

You will lead our goethe reading group—I didn’t even know goethe had written so many books!
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Request for a ban on all nonessential references to Sex & the City.

I may have missed some books, but isn’t early Coetzee much more combative than early Gordimer?

I like the Sex and the City bit. Honestly, we’ll never bring it up again. Nor Adorno.

I have to tell you, I’m very serious about this SATC thing. The superfluous reference, the Samantha humor, actually having seen that movie—all make me want to travel back to 2003, buy a gigantic cupcake, and throw it on the ground!

Carla just made me watch the SATC2 trailer

It can be part of our “screening series”

Says the first commenter:

Monika Bugiel 3 years ago
but what about the city? i want new york not some lame desert.

If I’m not being clear all of this is an endorsement
keep SATC!!!!!!!

for what it’s worth I don’t think you can say Google is in Palo Alto. Stanford is specifically the only campus there, just as Google is specifically in Mountain View, Apple in Cupertino. Sounds petty, I know

But when they started it in their grad student lounge, were they not in palo alto?
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Yes, but now they are a corporation with a large campus that is synonymous with Mountain View!

Title “World Literature” misleadingly boring!

Just “Against World Literature,” or something else that suggests strong argument of piece?

The Fat and the Fatuous

(Fat and Fatuous I must save for my contemporary rendition of Pride and Prejudice!)

World Republic of Losers  sorry I’ll stop.

World Lite maybe as slug…

World republic of losers funny! But isn’t it too mean?

Seems to me to play up our hostility so much—as if we’re saying Ngugi and Rushdie etc. are losers.

World Republic of Successful and Well-Intentioned Novelists in Whom We Are Ultimately Disappointed.

I fear World Republic of Losers, though it speaks to the soul, does lose out to World Lite, which is very portable and also captures the piece’s respect for literature and disappointment in its low-cal, taste-free varieties.

World Lite seems like a winner to me

I know there are many other objections, some or all of them totally valid. I had no time to address them. Those most disappointed with the argument and tone of the piece can spare themselves such feelings in the future by writing the IS themselves.

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