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Tracing the contours of the internationalization of Roberto Bolaño’s writing across various Asian and African locales, the volume’s concluding essay explores the question of the limits of Bolaño’s world-making imagination when confronted with contexts, translations, and referents beyond Europe and the Americas. Surveying a broad swath of Eastern Hemisphere Bolañiana, it explores to what degree and in what ways we may “extend the eventfulness of literature” (Whitehead) while accounting for the de facto Western-centrism of the Chilean author. Through a consideration of key passages, selected translations, and reception case-studies, the essay shows how Bolaño’s bodily cosmopolitics continues to produce contradiction and spark collaboration as it disseminates among a younger, transnational, literary intelligentsia.
This article attempts a reassessment of the political aspirations within Agha Shahid Ali’s poetics through a close reading of The Country without a Post Office. Although Shahid’s formal innovations have often been prioritized over his political commitments within scholarly evaluations of his work, I contend that in this collection, Agha Shahid Ali practices a “poetics of rupture”: holding themes of coherence and disruption, continuity and breakage, the global and the local in sustained tension with each other throughout the volume. Forged through a political commitment to represent Kashmir in crisis, his poetics of rupture is simultaneously formally founded on breakage and discontinuity, and itself ruptures, as I eventually propose, the very binaries (poetics versus polemics, personal versus political, local versus global) that shadow political poetry. I demonstrate the specifics of Shahid’s poetics of rupture through an analysis of his work with literary allusions and poetic forms. Eventually, this article contends that recognizing the political import of his poetics of rupture has consequences for our recognition of the crisis in Kashmir itself and the ethical and formal possibilities surrounding the representation of this crisis.
Tolstoy, himself a polyglot, is one of the world’s most widely translated writers, with at least ten English versions of War and Peace and a good thirteen of Anna Karenina, not to mention multiple translations of the shorter works and philosophical and religious treatises. The diversity of the English Tolstoy corpus makes it impossible to come up with a clear ranking of translations based on quality. Certain unique features of the writer’s language pose particular challenges to translators, such as his tendency to repeat simple, morally loaded words at key moments; his omissions of words that usually need to be supplied in English; and the complexity of his nature descriptions. English translations of Tolstoy’s works have flowed in two parallel streams, one on each side of the Atlantic. Louise and Aylmer Maude produced the most sustained and authoritative body of Tolstoy translations. The twentieth century has seen new trends: Tolstoy’s works have become easily available on the Internet both in Russian and in English; Russia offers generous grant support to fund translations of classic Russian literature; and a new authoritative Academy collected works is underway, which will surely necessitate revisions of translations, or production of new ones.
The Iraqi modernist poet Badr Shākir al-Sayyāb’s political positions underwent a monumental shift after he witnessed Mossadegh’s ouster first-hand while on the run from the Iraqi police in Iran. Chapter 4 traces the effects this political shift had on Sayyāb’s view of his own poetry and the worlds he imagined within it. Sayyāb was a card-carrying Communist prior to the coup against Mossadegh, but afterwards he began to support a nationalist politics informed by Western Liberalism. The changes his poetry underwent thus offer an indispensable point of comparison with Shāmlū’s committed project. After experiencing the events of 1953 in Iran, Sayyāb returned to a volatile period in Iraq’s history as a bloody 1958 revolution overthrew the pro-British Iraqi monarchy and instituted a radical military dictatorship in its stead. During the ensuing years, Sayyāb published several modernist poems, which have been hailed by critics as crucial contributions to the development of modernist forms and themes in Arabic. In this chapter, I explore Sayyāb’s development of modernist themes alongside his retention of premodern Arabic prosodic form in his 1954 long poem “Weapons and Children.”
The early decades of the twentieth century saw the articulation of new approaches to literature in Iran and the Arab world as Arabic and Persian literary modernisms developed out of the Arab nahḍah “renaissance” and the neoclassical Persian bāzgasht movement of “literary return. Modernist poetry in Arabic and Persian, which emerges in many ways on its own and draws on this other, local history, thus stands outside and against a singular understanding of modernism as a European phenomenon and calls us to consider what it might look like if we situate the center of our modernist map in the Middle East. The introduction deploys a range of recent literary theory on modernism, transnationalism, and modernity in the Arab world and Iran to argue for a re-orientation of our perspective and to treat Middle Eastern modernism on its own terms. By relocating our modernist center to an “Eastern” geography, the chapter argues for a new way of looking at modernist poetic developments within the region and across the border between the Arabic- and Persian-speaking worlds. Considering modernism from this relativist perspective shows how Arabic and Persian poetries form a significant modernist geography within the broader movement of modernism.
Wallace’s public image is of an insular and profoundly American figure, whose work is strongly aligned with US postmodernist heritages and persistently categorized in geographical and national – even regional – terms. Wallace himself invited and directed many such interpretations, referring constantly to his Americanness. However, as numerous scholars have noted over the years, this US-focused lens obscures the many global threads that run through his writing. This chapter explores the European traditions that influenced Wallace, focusing particularly on German and Russian writers and philosophers. Drawing lines between Wallace and Goethe, Dostoyevsky, Kafka and Hesse among others, the chapter explores some of the specific forms of aesthetic inspiration he took from European traditions. Paying close attention to formal techniques within Wallace’s prose allows us to see the particular literary devices he felt free to appropriate within his own context. The political implications of such appropriations are carefully examined, as are questions relating to what Wallace might justifiably have expected his readers to notice or else be unaware of. Building on the work of Jacobs, Boswell and Den Dulk, among others, this chapter argues for the centrality of European literature as a crucial context in which to interpret Wallace’s work and to come to terms with his formidable literary achievements.
Re-orienting Modernism in Arabic and Persian Poetry is the first book to systematically study the parallel development of modernist poetry in Arabic and Persian. It presents a fresh line of comparative inquiry into minor literatures within the field of world literary studies. Focusing on Arabic-Persian literary exchanges allows readers to better understand the development of modernist poetry in both traditions and in turn challenge Europe's position at the center of literary modernism. The argument contributes to current scholarly efforts to globalize modernist studies by reading Arabic and Persian poetry comparatively within the context of the Cold War to establish the Middle East as a significant participant in wider modernist developments. To illuminate profound connections between Arabic and Persian modernist poetry in both form and content, the book takes up works from key poets including the Iraqis Badr Shakir al-Sayyab and Abd al-Wahhab al-Bayati and the Iranians Nima Yushij, Ahmad Shamlu, and Forough Farrokhzad.
Auritro Majumder is Associate Professor of English at University of Houston. He is the author of Insurgent Imaginations: World Literature and the Periphery (Cambridge University Press, 2021) and currently chair of the South Asian and Diasporic Languages, Literatures and Cultures forum of the Modern Language Association.
This Afterword acknowledges the powerful role played by philology, and especially Germanic philology, in determining the shape of nations, especially after World War I. The search for absolute beginning, nationally inflected, can serve foundationalist aims, but the pluralized beginnings of this volume work quite differently. Many poets and writers, especially women of colour, find beginning qualities in medieval texts that help free up their own creativity. The volume’s productive distinction between openings and beginnings is here tested on the early Middle English Orrmulum. The influential model of a unified, integrative model vision of Rome-centred Latinity, proposed by E. R. Curtius, is here counterposed to a multi-centred understanding of European space, with due reference to Arabic, Hebrew, Byzantine Greek, Church Slavonic, Slavic, Armenian, and other traditions. The relationship of language and text to territory is problematized, with the space of Europe constituted not by firm boundaries but by complex vectoring and overlapping; Greek, Czech, and East Slavonic, often isolated, here join a pan-European conversation in which vernaculars engage fruitfully with learned and prestigious languages. The volume unshowily affirms the continuing need for philology, for the institutions that sustain it, and for the consequent necessity of collaboration, sharing what we know.
Nature and Literary Studies supplies a broad and accessible overview of one of the most important and contested keywords in modern literary studies. Drawing together the work of leading scholars of a variety of critical approaches, historical periods, and cultural traditions, the book examines nature's philosophical, theological, and scientific origins in literature, as well as how literary representations of this concept evolved in response to colonialism, industrialization, and new forms of scientific knowledge. Surveying nature's diverse applications in twenty-first-century literary studies and critical theory, the volume seeks to reconcile nature's ideological baggage with its fundamental role in fostering appreciation of nonhuman being and agency. Including chapters on wilderness, pastoral, gender studies, critical race theory, and digital literature, the book is a key resource for students and professors seeking to understand nature's role in the environmental humanities.
The epilogue surveys contemporary global fiction and alternate conceptions of world literature to stress the political, historical contingency of the Anglophone ambition to give formal literary expression to totality. Unlike their late modern predecessors, Italo Calvino, Jorge Luis Borges, and Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie delegate the task of crafting literary totalities to their readers, suggesting that one’s best chance of assimilating the world through text lies not in devouring a splendiferous Gesamtkunstwerk but in grazing across many national literatures. Recent trends suggest a privatization of world-making responsibilities; authors no longer claim the public function of rendering the world legible for their readerships, at least not within single works. I proceed from self-reflexive meditations on world literature in Calvino, Borges, and Adichie to explore the literary market in South Korea, where publishing houses have stayed solvent thanks to the evergreen demand for collectible sets of foreign literature in translation. Unlike the writers I examine in previous chapters, non-Anglophone writers frequently assume that the world is an entity to be read rather than written.
The Late Modernist Novel explores how the novel reinvented itself for a Modernist age, a world riven by war and capitalist expansion. Seo Hee Im argues that the Anglophone novel first had to disassociate itself from the modern nation-state and, by extension, national history, which had anchored the genre from its very inception. Existing studies of modernism show how the novel responded to the crisis in the national idea. Polyglot high modernists experimented with cosmopolitanism and multilingualism on the level of style, while the late modernists retreated to a literary nativism. This book explores a younger generation of writers that incorporated empirical structures as theme and form to expand the genre beyond the nation-state.
This chapter provides a framework for the companion by defining world crime fiction and outlining the key theoretical issues involved in studying crime fiction as a global genre. The first section explores the global and transnational prehistories of crime fiction; it covers various forms of premodern crime writing and discusses the global dissemination of Western crime fiction from the late nineteenth century, highlighting the role of translation, pseudotranslation and adaptation in the emergence of local crime literatures. The second section focusses on the transnationalism of contemporary world crime fiction, arguing that the global adaptations of the genre are not just a matter of adding local colour, but involve formal hybridization that results in new, local versions of the genre. The final section discusses how crime fiction studies, as a field traditionally tied to Western crime writing, has recently moved towards a global and transnational conception of the genre. The overarching argument of the chapter is that founding world crime fiction as a research area requires a rethinking of the crime genre itself beyond the Anglocentrism of the scholarly tradition.
Translation is embedded in the globalization of literature from the inception of print circulation. From fifteenth-century Western Europe to a world increasingly networked by imperialism in the early nineteenth century, printed translations are not simply reproductions or transferals of original literary texts, but dynamic assemblies of agents. In addition to the author, translator, editor, and publisher, numerous non-human agents including print and book design, but also the intellectual abstractions of world literature and the history of the idea of translation itself are actors in the process. Paradigmatic examples from diverse spatio-temporal zones including Renaissance multilingual translation, colonial translations in North India, and Arabic translations of European literature in the nineteenth century demonstrate that putting a work into a new language is beset with the Eurocentric aesthetics of world literature and reinforced by colonial regulation. At the same time, it challenges a controlled world system with indeterminacy and decentralization. As literary linguistic contacts grow and evolve across the globe in this period, the praxis of translating is not restricted by prescription. More importantly, the ontology of translation is unbound. Rather than belated second acts of literature translations are co-creations with the source.
The introduction provides an overview of the ways in which globalization can be defined and how this relates to literary studies. It sets out the book’s main approach, which is to view literature as being a key factor that shapes actual and imagined global phenomena. It also provides an overview of each of the books sections and chapters, flagging up connections between these and showing how they link in with other key fields of enquiry.
This book provides a history of the way in which literature not only reflects, but actively shapes processes of globalization and our notions of global phenomena. It takes in a broad sweep of history, from antiquity, through to the era of imperialism and on to the present day. Whilst its primary focus is our own historical conjuncture, it looks at how earlier periods have shaped this by tracking key concepts that are imbricated with the concept of globalization, from translation, to empire, to pandemics and environmental collapse. Drawing on these older themes and concerns, it then traces the germ of the relation between global phenomena and literary studies into the 20th and 21st centuries, exploring key issues and frames of study such as contemporary slavery, the digital, world literature and the Anthropocene.
This essay offers a three-part periodization of the Latin American novel in dialogue with 1960s dependency theory, arguably Latin America’s most important contribution to a wider Marxist tradition. Against the backdrop of a widespread turn toward textualist modes of analysis in the field of literary studies since the 1980s, this essay argues that dependency theory and the novel offer parallel means through which to analyze the structured nature of Latin American “difference” as arising from within – and not outside or beyond – the order of capital. Moving from nineteenth-century Brazilian realism to 1960s “Boom” narrative to contemporary Mexican noir, and drawing from pioneering critics such as Roberto Schwarz, Jean Franco, and Hernán Vidal, the essay argues that both dependency theory and the novel remain vital to excavating a history of the present.
In what ways was China’s literary modernism central to its Marxism? Despite Chinese revolutionary culture’s many twists and turns from class struggle to economic reconstruction, Marxist intellectuals in China have consistently identified Lu Xun (1881–1936), a modernist writer who never joined the CCP and dismissed its revolutionary literature as an “unfortunate confusion of guns with words,” as having drawn the blueprint of the country’s communist future. Instead of reexamining the writer’s political alignment with CCP leaders or the extent and accuracy of his knowledge of Marx, this chapter takes up the perplexing question of Lu Xun’s Marxism by recasting his modernist experimentations with irony, rhetorical displacement, and metafictional excess as the construction of a materialist aesthetics centered on disposable populations that appear, at first, either independent of capital–labor relations or anterior to primitive accumulation in the beginning years of China’s traumatic incorporation into the world capitalist system.