Engraving Diversity: The Bilingual Stones of Victor Segalen’s Stèles /古今碑錄
From his extensive travels in Polynesia and East Asia, the early-20th-century French writer Victor Segalen is probably best known for his “Essay on Exoticism”: a critique of popular 19th-century European travel narratives (récits de voyage) and the booming new tourist industry. In a kind of manifesto against the dually flattening forces of exoticism and assimilationism, Segalen argues for an “aesthetics of the Diverse”—based not, as we might expect, on cultural understanding but instead on the “eternal incomprehension” located in the fluid space between cultures. The most striking effort to put this aesthetics into practice comes in Stèles /古今碑錄, a bilingual collection of poems first published in 1914, after a five-year stay in China. While addressing broad themes like love, friendship, and war, Stèles /古今碑錄 also meditates on its own impenetrability as a piece of writing, with its poems explicitly mirroring the immovable stone steles that Segalen encountered in China. The talk will focus on three self-reflexive poems from this volume to explore Segalen’s configuration of cultural interaction and incomprehension. Stèles /古今碑錄’s form juxtaposes French verse with Chinese phrases (sometimes from classical Chinese texts, sometimes of Segalen’s own invention), but the poems do not engage in translation from one language to the other. On the contrary, the collection seeks to create a productive cross-cultural poetics through demonstrations of mutual untranslatability, on both the linguistic and cultural levels.
Postdoctoral Fellow in the Tsinghua–Michigan Society of Fellows, housed in the Institute for World Literatures and Cultures and the Department of Foreign Languages and Literatures at Tsinghua University. His research focuses on French avant-garde poetry’s relationship with contemporary francophone poetry and philosophy, especially that of the Martinican writer édouard Glissant. He received his Ph.D. from Cornell University last August and began work at Tsinghua in September.
时间: 2017年5月25日周四 12:30-13:30