This book is the record of a colloquium held at Churchill College, Cambridge. It pursues lines of discussion radiating out from the core theme of the power of the image (understood in its pictorial, iconic, sensory and verbal senses). Writers, scholars and artists are grouped in pairs representing the two language-cultures (English and French). Central topics covered include the manifold ways in which our readings of pictorial images old and contemporary can bridge cultures, language politics and the politics of culture, the limitless and instructive senses of the concept of the ‘word’, the relation between orality and the written text, the implications of the act of writing, history and opera, the word in theatre, the influence of the Nobel Prize…. The terms of discussion universally urbane, effortlessly wide-ranging and deeply probing. Most importantly – and a reminder of how best to ensure literate wisdom in intercultural debate – is the fact that the contributors gathered here have avoided all ‘pre-packaging’ of their reflections in the shibboleth ‘discourses' (whether Freudian, poststructuralist, postmodern or postcolonial) of our time.
Contributors are: Anthony Kwame Appiah, Biyi Bandele, Jacques Chevrier, Tim Cribb, Irène d’Almeida, Casimir d’Angelo, Assia Djebar, Akin Euba, Christiane Fioupou, Lorna Goodison, Wilson Harris, Marika Hedin, Gerard Houghton, Abiola Irele, Anny King, John Kinsella, Henri Lopés, Daniel Maximin, Femi Osofisan, Niyi Osundare, Ato Quayson, Alain Ricard, Tracy Ryan, Julien Sinzogan, Alioune Sow, Wole Soyinka, George Steiner, Véronique Tadjo, Maria Tippett, Olabiyi Yaï