This essay harnesses the use of translation as a critical method to explore affect in a comparative mode. By way of readings of ethnography (Margaret Trawick's Notes on Love in a Tamil Family), film (the Hindi-language masala film Guide), and fiction (Chinua Achebe's Nigerian novel A Man of the People), the essay illustrates the different ways different cultures understand and express an affect such as “love.” The recent surge of critical interest in affect has not properly engaged the challenge of this kind of cross-cultural work, which is implicated not just in linguistic differences but also in differences of culture, genre, and disciplines of study. Instead, Affect Studies has often spoken (implicitly or otherwise) of affect in a universalist vein. While acknowledging the limits of translation, the essay concludes that a considered approach to translation as method would prove enabling for a Comparative Affect Studies.

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