Exile, Non-Belonging and Statelessness in Grangaud, Jabès, Lubin and Luca

No man’s language

Greg Kerr


At least since the Romantic era, poetry has often been understood as a powerful vector of collective belonging. The idea that certain poets are emblematic of a national culture is one of the chief means by which literature historicizes itself, inscribes itself in a shared cultural past and supplies modes of belonging to those who consume it. But what, then, of the exiled, migrant or translingual poet? How might writing in a language other than one’s mother tongue complicate this picture of the relation between poet, language and literary system? What of those for whom the practice of poetry is inseparable from a sense of restlessness or unease, suggesting a condition of not being at home in any one language, even that of their mother tongue?

These questions are crucial for four French-language poets whose work is the focus of this study: Armen Lubin (1903-74), Ghérasim Luca (1913-94), Edmond Jabès (1912-91) and Michelle Grangaud (1941-). Ranging across borders within and beyond the Francosphere – from Algeria to Armenia, to Egypt, to Romania – this book shows how a poetic practice inflected by exile, statelessness or non-belonging has the potential to disrupt long-held assumptions of the relation between subjects, the language they use and the place from which they speak.

Greg Kerr is Lecturer in French at the University of Glasgow.

List of Figures


1. Solemn attestation: illness and statelessness in Armen Lubin

2. No grounds for looking: Edmond Jabès and the questioning of the image

3. ‘Brûler les états / Brûler les étapes’: Ghérasim Luca

4. Taking leave of one’s self: Michelle Grangaud between propre and commun



'Kerr’s book is a major contribution to Francophone studies, and to modern poetry studies more generally, in its penetrating exploration of the migrant, the stateless, and the diasporic writer. Engaging with current thought in philosophy of language, translation studies, and word-and-image studies, Kerr opens readers’ eyes and minds to how poetry undoes national and linguistic orthodoxies and makes its counterblast.' – Susan Harrow, University of Bristol

Format: Hardback

Size: 234 × 156 mm

204 Pages

6 B&W illustrations

Copyright: © 2021

ISBN: 9781787356757

Publication: June 07, 2021

Series: Comparative Literature and Culture

Scroll to top