Exile and Creativity

Signposts, Travelers, Outsiders, Backward Glances

Exile and Creativity

Book Pages: 456 Illustrations: 16 b&w photographs Published: May 1998

General Interest > Biography, Letters, Memoirs, Literature and Literary Studies > Literary Criticism, Literary Theory

A major historical phenomenon of our century, exile has been a focal point for reflections about individual and cultural identity and problems of nationalism, racism, and war. Whether emigrés, exiles, expatriates, refugees, or nomads, these people all experience a distance from their homes and often their native languages. Exile and Creativity brings together the widely varied perspectives of nineteen distinguished European and American scholars and cultural critics to ask: Is exile a falling away from a source of creativity associated with the wholeness of home and one’s own language, or is it a spur to creativity?
In essays that range chronologically from the Renaissance to the 1990s, geographically from the Danube to the Andes, and historically from the Inquisition to the Holocaust, the complexities and tensions of exile and the diversity of its experiences are examined. Recognizing exile as an interior experience as much as a physical displacement, this collection discusses such varied topics as intellectual exile and seventeenth-century French literature; different versions of home and of the novel in the writings of Bakhtin and Lukács; the displacement of James Joyce and Clarice Lispector; a young journalist’s meeting with James Baldwin in the south of France; Jean Renoir’s Hollywood years; and reflections by the descendents of European emigrés. Strikingly, many of the essays are themselves the work of exiles, bearing out once more the power of the personal voice in scholarship.
With the exception of the contribution by Henry Louis Gates Jr., these essays were originally published in a special double issue of Poetics Today in 1996. Exile and Creativity will engage a range of readers from those whose specific interests include the problems of displacement and diaspora and the European Holocaust to those whose broad interests include art, literary and cultural studies, history, film, and the nature of human creativity.

Contributors. Zygmunt Bauman, Janet Bergstrom, Christine Brooke-Rose, Hélène Cixous, Tibor Dessewffy, Marianne Hirsch, Denis Hollier, Henry Louis Gates Jr., Linda Nochlin, Leo Spitzer, Susan Rubin Suleiman, Thomas Pavel, Doris Sommer, Nancy Huston, John Neubauer, Ernst van Alphen, Alicia Borinsky, Svetlana Boym, Jacqueline Chénieux-Gendron


"[M]oving and engaging. . . . At times it seems that the exile’s creativity stems precisely from expressing life in translation, a life of endless dance steps—cultural jetés, linguistic entrechats—all those thrilling moments, staged or not, of loss, hope, change, disappointment, joy, success, and failure." — Patsy Baudoin , Boston Book Review

"[R]estores the worn scholarly notion of ‘otherness’ to a lively particularity. . . . Suleiman and her authors succeed by offering in-depth analysis via compelling stories of exiles and their work: Shelley, Joyce, Hemingway, Conrad, Ovid, Dante, Descartes, Hobbes, Dreyfus, Carrington, Kitaj, Tzara, Bréton, Bakhtin, and Lukács are but a few of the exiles encountered on this readerly journey." — Shelley Salamensky , Boston Review

“This is a rich and thought-provoking collection of essays about a subject of almost inexhaustible interest: exile as both a physical state and a state of mind, entailing both loss (of homeland, continuity, tradition) and gain (of new experiences, new ideas, new languages). These aspects of exile, which have made it so often a stimulus to writers and artists, are explored here in a fascinating variety of contexts and perspectives, and the collection as a whole maintains a nice balance between personal witness and objective scholarship.” — David Lodge


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Author/Editor Bios Back to Top

Susan Rubin Suleiman is C. Douglas Dillon Professor of the Civilization of France and Professor of Comparative Literature at Harvard University. She is the author of several books, including, most recently, Budapest Diary: In Search of the Motherhood.

Table of Contents Back to Top
Introduction / Susan Rubin Suleiman 1


Exsul / Christine Brooke-Rose 9

Exile as Romance and as Tragedy / Thomas Pavel 25

Art and the Conditions of Exile: Men/Women, Emigration/Expatriation / Linda Nochlin 37

"Mamae, disse ele," or, Joyce's Second Hand / Helene Cixous 59

Letter from Paris (Foreign Mail) / Denis Hollier 89


At Home Abroad: El Inca Shuttles with Hebreo / Doris Sommer 109

Gombrowicz's Tango: An Argentine Snapshot / Alicia Borinsky 143

Surrealists in Exile: Another Kind of Resistance / Jacqueline Chenieux-Gendron 163

Jean Renoir's Return to France / Janet Bergstrom 180

A Master of Amazement: Armando's Self-Chosen Exile / Ernst Van Alphen 220


Estrangement as a Lifestyle: Shklovsky and Brodsky / Svetlana Boym 242

Bakhtin versus Lukacs: Inscriptions of Homelessness in Theories of the Novel / John Neubauer 263

Romain Gary: A Foreign Body in French Literature / Nancy Huston 281

The Welcome Table: James Baldwin in Exile / Henry Louis Gates Jr. 305

Assimilation into Exile: The Jew as a Polish Writer / Zygmunt Bauman 321

Strangerhood without Boundaries: An Essay in the Sociology of Knowledge / Tibor Dessewffy 353

Backward Glances

Persistent Memory: Central European Refugees in an Andean Land / Leo Spitzer 373

Monuments in a Foreign Tongue: On Reading Holocaust Memoirs by Emigrants / Susan Rubin Suleiman 397

Past Lives: Postmemories in Exile / Marianne Hirsch 418

Contributors 447
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Additional InformationBack to Top
Paper ISBN: 978-0-8223-2215-3 / Cloth ISBN: 978-0-8223-2187-3
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