Literary Creativity and Transgeniality


  • Jüri Talvet Tartu Ülikool



transgenialities, intertextualities, Francesco Petrarca, François Villon, Jorge Manrique, Antonio Gamoneda, Jidi Majia, Juhan Liiv


There is hardly any doubt that most turning points in the history of small and minor literatures have been provoked from the outside, in the first place under direct influence of some new current engendered and spread from “centers”, traditionally identified with major nations and linguistic communities. As compared with small nations, creative cultures of “centers” have historically enjoyed much more freedom, because (more than often) under the coverage of political-economic and military might they have been able to develop without looming existential threats from the outside.

At the same time, no culture is inherently homogeneous. Especially since the Modern Age conformist and rebellious creativity have been in a constant state of confrontation as well as mutual interactivity. Therefore, the history of cultural creativity is full of paradoxes and surprises, both in “centers” and “peripheries”. Creative culture has nearly always retained at least a relative independence, in regard to the official society with its material power and business structures.

I would like to show that beyond a huge number of intertextualities extending from “centers” to “peripheries” (the physical and mental locus of small and minor cultures), easily traceable in formal and external signs of literary works, there exists in parallel a phenomenon which could be tentatively defined as “transgeniality”.

I will try to reveal some of such transgenialities comparing the poetics and philosophy of (mainly) three poets, the Spaniard Antonio Gamoneda (born in 1931), the Yi-Chinese poet Jidi Majia (born in 1961) and the Estonian poet Juhan Liiv (1864–1913).


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