Fredric Jameson - Third-World Literature in the Era of Multinational Capitalism (Notes)

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1. The whole matter of nationalism should perhaps be rethought, as Benedict Andersons interest­ ing essay Imagined Communities (London: Verso, 1983), and Tom Nairns The Breakup of Britain (London: New Left Books, 1977) invite us to do.

2. I have argued elsewhere for the importance of ma** culture and science fiction. See Reification and Utopia in Ma** Culture, Social Text no. 1 (1979), 130-148.

3. The essay was written for an immediate occasion-the third memorial lecture in honor of my late colleague and friend Robert C. Elliot at the University of California, San Diego. It is essentially reprinted as given.

4. William Bennett, To Reclaim a Legacy, Text of a report on the Humanities, Chronicle of Higher Education, XXIX, 14 (Nov. 28, 1984), pp. 16-21.

5. The cla**ic texts are F. Engels, The Origin of the Family, Private Property and the State (1884) and the earlier, but only more recently published section of Marxs Grundrisse, often called Pre­ capitalist economic formations, trans. Martin Nicolaus (London: NLB/Penguin, 1973), pp. 471-514. See also Emmanuel Terray, Marxism and Primitive Societies, trans. M. Klopper, (New York: Monthly Review, 1972); Barry Hindess and Paul Hirst, Pre-Capitalist Modes of Production (London: Routledge and Kegan Paul, 1975); and Gilles Deleuze and Felix Guattari, Savages, Barbarians, Civilized Men, in Anti-Oedipus, trans. R. Hurley, M. Seem, H.R. Lane, (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota press, 1983), pp. 139-271.

Besides mode-of-production theory, whose validity is in any case widely debated, there have also appeared in recent years a number of important synthesizing works on third-world history as a unified field. Three works in particular deserve mention: Global Rift, by L.S. Stavrianos (Morrow, 1981); Europe and the People without History, by Eric R. Wolf (California, 1982), and The Three Worlds, by Peter Worsley (Chicago, 1984). Such works suggest a more general methodological consequence implicit in the present essay but which should be stated explicitly here: first, that the kind of comparative work demanded by this concept of third-world literature involves comparison, not of the individual texts, which are formally and culturally very different from each other, but of the concrete situations from which such texts spring and to which they constitute distinct responses; and second, that such an approach suggests the possibility of a literary and cultural comparatism of a new type, distantly modelled on the new comparative history of Barrington Moore and exemplified in books like Theda Skocpols States and Social Revolutions or Eric Wolfs Peasant Revolutions of the 20th Century. Such a


New cultural comparatism would juxtapose the study of the differences and similarities of specific literary and cultural texts with a more typological analysis of the various socio-cultural situations from which they spring, an analysis whose variables would necessarily include such features as the inter­ relationship of social cla**es, the role of intellectuals, the dynamics of language and writing, the configuration of traditional forms, the relationship to western influences, the development of urban experience and money, and so forth. Such comparatism, however, need not be restricted to third-world literature.

6. See for example, Perry Anderson, Lineages of the Absolutist State (London: New Left Books, 1974), pp. 435-549.

7. Sigmund Freud, Psychoanalytic Notes on an Autobiographical Account of a Case of Paranoia, trans. James Strachey, The Standard Edition o f the Complete Psychological Works of Sigmund Freud (London: Hogarth, 1958), Volume XII, p. 457.

8. See for example Wolfram Eberhard, A History of China, trans. E.W. Dickes, (Berkeley: Univer­sity of California Press, 1977), p. 105: When we hear of alchemy, or read books about it we should always keep in mind that many of these books can also be read as books of s**; in a similar way, books on the art of war, too, can be read as books on s**ual relations.

9. Lu Xun, Selected Stories of Lu Hsun, trans. Gladys Yang and Yang Hsien-yi (Beijing: Foreign Languages Press, 1972), pp. 1-6.

10. Ibid., pp. 2-3.

11. Ibid., p. 40.

12. Ibid., p. 72.

13. Ibid. I am indebted to Peter Rushton for some of these observations.

14. Ibid., p. 5.

15. Socialism will become a reality, Lenin observes, when the necessity of observing the simple, fundamental rules of human intercourse has become a habit. (State and Revolution [Beijing: Foreign Languages Press, 1973], p. 122.)

16. See the interesting discussions in Stephen Gilman, Gald6s and the Art of the European Novel: 1867-1887 (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1981).

17. Immanuel Wallerstein, The Modern World System (New York: Academic Press, 1974).

18. For example: El Delfin habia entrado, desde los ultimos dias del 74, en aquel periodo sedante que seguia infaliblemente a sus desvarios. En realidad, no era aquello virtud, sino casancio del pecado; no era el sentimiento puro y regular del orden, sino el hastio de Ia revoluci6n. Verificabase en el lo que don Baldomero habia dicho del pais: que padecia fiebres alternativas de libertad y de paz. Fortunata y Jacinta (Madrid: Editorial Hernando, 1968), p. 585 (Part III, chapter 2, section 2).

19. Deluze and Guattari, op. cit., p. 274.

20. Princeton University Press, 1960; and University of Chicago Press, 1970, respectively.

21. Sembene Ousmane, Xala, trans. Clive Wake, (Westport, Conn.: Lawrence Hill, 1976), p. 69.

22. I am indebted to Carlos Blanco Aguinaga for the suggestion that in the Latin American novel this ambivalence may be accounted for by the fact that the archetypal Dictator, while oppressing his own people, is also perceived as resisting North American influence.

23. Xala, op. cit., p. 66.

24. Generic Discontinuities in Science Fiction: Brian Aldiss Starship, Science Fiction Studies #2 (1973), pp. 57-68.

25. Xala, op. cit., pp. 110-111.

26. G.W.F. Hegel, The Phenomenology of Mind, trans. A.V. Miller, (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1977) : Section B, Chapter IV, Part A-3, Lordship and Bondage, pp. 111-119. The other basic philosophical underpinning of this argument is Lukacs epistemology in History and Cla** Conscious-


Ness according to which mapping or the grasping of the social totality is structurally available to the dominated rather than the dominating cla**es. Mapping is a term I have used in Postmodernism, or, the Cultural Logic of Late Capitalism, (New Left Review #146 Uuly-August, 1984], pp. 53-92). What is here called national allegory is clearly a form of just such mapping of the totaliry, so that the present essay-which sketches a theory of the cognitive aesthetics of third-world literature-forms a pendant to the essay on postmodernism which describes the logic of the cultural imperalism of the first world and above all of the United States.

Date of text publication: 18.01.2021 at 08:20