Glissant's Deleuze: Vitalism and the seduction of the Tout -monde

Michael Alexander Wiedorn, University of Pennsylvania


In the burgeoning field of Glissant scholarship there has not been to date an extended and critical study of two crucial aspects of this multi-faceted author's output: the philosophical dimension of Glissant's own work, and his engagement with the work of the French philosopher Gilles Deleuze. This project focuses on Glissant not only as a writer of fiction, but also as a participant in and commentator upon the discourse of French twentieth century philosophy in the context of his position as a Martinican writer of literature and critical theory. Focusing on the moments in Glissant's work where he has undertaken a rethinking of the relationship of literature to political change, I explore how Glissant has appropriated, supplemented, and at times departed from Deleuze's thinking. Chapters focus on Glissant's points of intersection with some of the lingering problems of French twentieth century philosophy: the figure of difference and the ethical implications of engaging with otherness that are presented in Glissant's work, Glissant's conception of literature's relationship to life, his approach to totality and globalization (the Tout-monde), and his use of the topos of desire in a post-psychoanalytic context. I explain why it is that Glissant's departures from the trajectories of Deleuze and Guattari's thinking, and his turn to concepts, problems and topics that are more properly his own, prove to be necessary, given the long-term preoccupations of his literary and theoretical output. Throughout, I ask whether Glissant's ideas, and particularly those that revolve around the political dimension and the world-changing potential of writing, meet the lofty goals they set for themselves. In this analysis, Glissant proves to be a thinker who intentionally privileges and utilizes tension, ambiguity, and lasting contradiction. Finally, in order to offset the critical dimension of the dissertation, I suggest that Glissant's work may be read as a source of, or spur to, creation of new perspectives and new ways of thinking with regard to a set of problems haunting the contemporary literary-critical scene.

Subject Area

Comparative literature|Caribbean literature|Philosophy

Recommended Citation

Wiedorn, Michael Alexander, "Glissant's Deleuze: Vitalism and the seduction of the Tout -monde" (2008). Dissertations available from ProQuest. AAI3309525.