Édouard Glissant was not only a thinker but also a novelist and poet, and the essays in Treatise on the Whole-World reflect this; not only do characters from the novels appear from time to time (and indeed the Treatise itself is presented as written by a fictional character), but much of the writing has a poetic quality that is quite different from the conventional style of the essay (as Glissant says: ‘the poetics that have appeared in the world are gaily reinventing the genres, unrestrainedly mixing them up’, p. 75). The book also contains two actual poems (pp. 138–9, p. 152). He invents new words whose meaning is not always clearly defined, and abstract discussion alternates with lyrical evocations of landscapes, cities or people (‘You ask why I am jumping about like this, going from polished sentences to all kinds of jumbles of words?’, p. 40). Repetition, also, has a positive rather than a negative value, because it is never exact: looking at the same idea from a slightly different angle can shed new light on it....
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