Linguistic Areas of Literature : Between the World and the Nations Chapitre d’ouvrage - 2022

Tristan Leperlier

Tristan Leperlier, « Linguistic Areas of Literature : Between the World and the Nations  », in Gisèle Sapiro, Delia Ungureanu (eds.), Pascale Casanova World of Letters and its Legacies, 2022, pp. 129-146. ISBN 9789004522879. 〈〉


In this chapter I seek to further elaborate on linguistic areas of literature, which have been under-researched by Casanova, who rather tried to map a broader picture of the world literary system, and who was more attentive to cases of Herderian congruence between nation and language. In so doing, I re-elaborate the theory of the field in a transnational and plurilingual perspective, focusing on the notions of in/dependence of literary spaces, and of illusio. Linguistic areas are dynamic international spaces revolving around one language, and organising a system of dependencies between local spaces, that are typically national. I develop a typology of linguistic areas. The polycentric Arabophone linguistic area is structured by the interdependence of national spaces in relation to each other. Thanks to the growing integration of its still existing peripheries, this linguistic area resembles an international literary field overarching the national (sub-)fields. By contrast, the monocentric Francophone linguistic area can be called a “literary system,” organized around a core literary field, the French one. This leads me to refine the model of the Francophone literary system proposed by Klinkenberg and Denis, and to propose a new way of sketching the literary history of the French language literature from a transnational perspective. Using a more institutional approach, I qualified Casanova’s assumptions that linguistic areas are “homogeneous,” while they are permanently crossed over by national borders and even linguistic issues (especially in local plurilingual spaces) ; and above all that they are “unchallenged” : I showed the dialectically evolving balance of power even in the most centralized linguistic areas, introducing more history in macro-models of World literature.

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