THE INCOMPARABLE AS UNINTERPRETABLE: COMPARATIVE LITERATURE AND THE QUESTION OF RELEVANT (RE)CONTEXTUALIZATION
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This article approaches the topic of the “incomparable” in contemporary comparative literature in four steps. Firstly, it systematizes the problem, i.e. it describes the most important contemporary aspects of the thesis of the “incomparable” (or of the “incommensurable”). Secondly, it historicizes the discussion, meaning it tries to prove that many of the current controversies replay – frequently using the same arguments or arguments inferred from them – some of the older debates on the “incomparable” nature of literary works. Thirdly, it “trivializes” the issue – in the meaning of the pragmatic concept proposed by Richard Rorty, for whom “trivialization” is the philosophical procedure of limiting the differences in nature among specific phenomena to differences of degree. Fourthly, it re-examines in brief the problem of the “comparable” from the perspective of its relevance for the contexts of literary interpretation. The conclusion of the article is an advocacy of the comparative approach to literary practices, which, for now, remains a challenge rather than a well-defined field of study within current comparatism.
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