Treatise on the Whole-World

BookTreatise on the Whole-World

Treatise on the Whole-World

by Édouard Glissant

The Glissant Translation Project, 3


June 2nd, 2020



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This exciting, challenging book covers a wide range of subject matter, but all linked together through the key ideas of diversity and ‘Relation’. It sees our modern world, shaped by immigration and the aftermath of colonization, as a multiplicity of different communities interacting and evolving together, and argues passionately against all political and philosophical attempts to impose uniformity, universal or absolute values. This is the ‘Whole-World’, which includes not only these objective phenomena but also our consciousness of them. Our personal identities are not fixed and self-sufficient but formed in ‘Relation’ through our contacts with others. Glissant constantly stresses the unpredictable, ‘chaotic’ nature of the world, which, he claims, we must adapt to and not attempt to limit or control. ‘Creolization’ is not restricted to the Creole societies of the Caribbean but describes all societies in which different cultures with equal status interact to produce new configurations. This perspective produces brilliant new insights into the politicization of culture, but also language, poetry, our relationship to place and to landscapes, globalization, history, and other topics. The book is not written in the style conventionally associated with essays, but is a mixture of argument, proclamation, and poetic evocations of landscapes, lifestyles and people.

"This is a magnificent translation of a crucial book by Edouard Glissant, which extends his poetics of relation to all the intricacies of Globalisation, making the case for a new form of aesthetics and ethics that would allow for a renewed engagement with social and political justice. The book is eminently topical with regard to its themes, and this translation conveys Glissant’s complex ideas and style with great care and accuracy."
Hugues Azérad, University of Cambridge

Author Information

Celia Britton is Emeritus Professor at University College London.