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Tzvetan Todorov

Datum narození: 1. březen 1939

Tzvetan Todorov, bulharsky Цветан Тодоров je francouzsko-bulharský filozof, esejista a literární teoretik. Narodil se v Sofii, od roku 1963 žije trvale ve Francii, roku 1973 získal francouzské občanství. V Bulharsku vystudoval slavistiku, ve Francii lingvistiku a literární vědu. Velmi ho ovlivnilo dílo Michaila Bachtina a teorie mluvních aktů, svou dizertaci napsal pod vedením Rolanda Barthese. Krom literatury a dějin umění patří k oblastem jeho zájmu otázka kolektivní paměti, odkazu Jean-Jacquese Rousseaua, objevení Ameriky či koncentračních táborů. Je manželem kanadské spisovatelky Nancy Hustonové. Česky vyšly jeho knihy Dobytí Ameriky : Problém druhého , Poetika prózy , V mezní situaci , Úvod do fantastické literatury , Strach z barbarů .

Citáty Tzvetan Todorov


„Vlastní jména tvoří velmi zvláštní oblast slovníku: postrádají význam, slouží pouze denotaci, nikoliv bezprostřední komunikaci mezi lidmi; obracejí se k přírodě (ke konkrétně označovanému), ne k lidem; jsou to podobně jako indexy přímá spojení mezi sledy zvuků a součástmi okolního světa. “

„Fantastično vede život plný nebezpečí a může se v každém okamžiku rozplynout.“


„The fear of barbarians is what risks making us barbarians.“

„When the critic has said everything in his power about a literary text, he has still said nothing; for the very existence of literature implies that it cannot be replaced by non-literature“

„Every individual is multicultural; cultures are not monolithic islands but criss-crossed alluvial plains. Individual identity stems from the encounter of multiple collective identities within one and the same person; each of our various affiliations contributes to the formation of the unique creature that we are. Human beings are not all similar, or entirely different; they are all plural within themselves, and share their constitutive traits with very varied groups, combining them in an individual way. The cohabitation of different types of belonging within each one of us does not in general cause any problems- and this ought, in turn, to arouse admiration: like a juggler, we keep all the balls of our identity in the air at once, with the greatest ease!
Individual identity results from the interweaving of several collective identities; it is not alone in this respect. What is the origin of the culture of a human group? The reply- paradoxically- is that it comes from previous cultures. A new culture arises from the encounter between several smaller cultures, or from the decomposition of a bigger culture, or from interaction with neighboring culture. There is never a human life prior to the advent of culture.“

„Life cannot withstand death, but memory is gaining in its struggle against nothingness.“

„The thirst for vengeance did not wait for Islam to appear in the world, and the appeal to the law of an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth is universal.“

„Just after the 11 September 2001 attacks, the Turkish writer Orhan Pamuk (who later won the Nobel Prize) observed, in Istanbul, the ordinary and peaceable inhabitants of the city displaying great joy at the collapse of the Twin Towers. What was the explanation? ‘It is neither Islam nor even poverty itself that directly engenders support for terrorists whose ferocity and ingenuity are unprecedented in human history; it is, rather, the crushing humiliation that has infected the third-world countries.“


„Every human being needs a set of norms and rules, traditions and customs, transmitted from the older to the younger; without those norms, the individual would never achieve the fullness of his humanity, but would be reduced to the condition of the 'Wild Child", condemned to anomie, in other words to the absence of all law and all order- an absence that can create severe disturbances.“

„Torture is not to be condemned merely because it does not produce the effects expected; it is to be condemned, first and foremost, because it is an unacceptable attack on the very idea of humanity. It is the surest index of barbarism – that extreme pole in human behaviour that leads us to ride roughshod over the humanity of the other. Yet again, torture is in this respect worse than murder, since by torturing I do not remain content with eliminating the person to whom I object, I draw satisfaction from his suffering, from excluding him from humanity, and this intense pleasure lasts for as long as he is alive. Torture leaves an indelible mark on the person tortured but also on the torturer. Institutional torture is even worse than individual torture, since it subverts every idea of justice and right. If the state itself becomes a torturer, how can we believe in the order that it claims to bring or to endorse?“

„When we examine, not the language of propaganda, but the witness of the combatants themselves, religion does not occupy the first place. Their motivations are more often secular, they mention their sympathy for a population reduced to poverty, the victims of the whim of ruling classes that live in luxury and corruption- rulers able to maintain themselves in power thanks only to the support of the American government ( as in Pakistan, Saudi Arabia and Egypt). They speak of the members of their families or their local communities who have suffered or died by the fault of these governments ( and thus of their protectors); and they want to avenge them. The thirst for vengeance did not wait for Islam to appear in the world, and the appeal to the law of an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth is universal.“

„When an angry mob demands the death of a female English schoolteacher alleged to have insulted the Prophet, as happened in Sudan in November 2007, the real objective was not the defence of Islam but of honour, which – it was felt – had been slighted for many long years by the Western powers. This ‘spontaneous’ use of religion was accompanied by its deliberate instrumentalization by those who are pursuing other objectives, but who prefer this disguise. Even the Crusades, as I have said, had several motives other than religious ones, but these motives were merely less easy to admit to; so they preferred to declare that Jerusalem needed to be liberated. Such a cause appears nobler; and, in addition, the appeal to cultural identity allows more powerful inner resources to be mobilized.“


„Comment se réjouir de la victoire sur un ennemi hideux si pour le vaincre il a fallu devenir comme lui?
("La peur des barbares")“

„The decision to use torture as a terror of retribution gives an inner satisfaction to the person who practises it, even if this is difficult for him to accept openly. Having been injured and humiliated by aggression, he can now humiliate in his turn those whom he considers to be his aggressors, and rediscover his self-esteem. As an ex-soldier of the Algerian War explains, forty years after the events: ‘You could feel a certain form of jubilation while being present at such extreme scenes... Doing to a body whatever you feel like doing to it.’ Reducing the other to a state of complete impotence gives you a feeling of supreme power. This feeling is one which torture gives you more than murder does, since the latter does not last: once dead, the other becomes an inert object and no longer produces that jubilation which stems from fully triumphing over the will of another, without his ceasing to exist.“

„Wars are motivated by the need to seize the wealth of our neighbours, to wield power, to protect ourselves from real or imagined threats: in short they have, as we have seen, political, social, economic or demographic causes. There is no need to refer to Islam or the clash of civilizations to explain why the Afghans or the Iraqis resist the western military forces occupying their countries. Nor to speak of anti-Jewish sentiment or anti-Semitism to understand the reasons why the Palestinians are not overjoyed by the Israeli occupation of their lands.“

„Toda obra, toda novela, narra a través de la trama de los acontecimientos la historia de su propia creación, su propia historia.“ Literatura y significación

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