’Eating Away the Corners of (World) Literature : The Littleness and the Worldliness of Indian Little Magazines 1950s-70s The Magazine and World Literature Webinar series

Intervenant : Laetitia Zecchini

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Drawing on my work on several Indian ‘little magazines’ of the 60s and 70s, such as damn you, Vrischik or contra 66, and on journals that must be contextualized against the backdrop of the Cultural Cold War such as Quest and Imprint, I would like to discuss the interplay of the ‘littleness’ and ‘worldliness’ in these publications where poets – and especially poets writing in English often had a prominent role. If ‘literary geographies run counter to real ones’ (Arvind Krishna Mehrotra), what types of geographies, visions and experiences of world literature did these magazines invent ? And to what purpose or agenda ? How did these magazines help writers ‘choose their (literary) neighbours’ (Adil Jussawalla) ? And perhaps set ’their own voices free’ (to borrow a line from Mehrotra : ’A borrowed voice sets the true one free’). While the anti-establishment little magazines of the 60s cultivated the apparent ‘randomness’ of their literary discoveries, the ‘conspirational link’ (Jussawalla) between poet and poet, or poet and reader, the friendships and the underground traffics through which they accessed literatures of the world, journals which were officially part of the ‘arsenal’ of the Congress for Cultural Freedom would seem to obey to logics that are everything butrandom. Andrew Rubin has for instance argued that ‘formidable structures of cultural domination’ shaped a whole ideology and mode of world literature during the Cold War. Through an examination of the ways by which these different magazines travelled the world, but also staged or curated ’world literature’, and through a discussion of what I identify as their shared ‘littleness’ (in genre, form, practices and stances, in the micro-communities they created, in their refusal of majoritarian/dominant modes), especially focusing on the book reviews and the quotations which make up so much of the intertextual fabric of these magazines, I would however like to highlight the commonality between both types of journals

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