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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.
Studies of world literature and the Global Anglophone hinge on imagined locations where readers encounter texts: the university classroom, the state library, the airport kiosk. Yet all of these bookshelves are institutional, shaped by either the market or the state. In the meantime, South Asian authors themselves were constructing another collection, a “countershelf” of Latin American texts, authors, and locations through which they could identify against the Anglophone globe in which they were simultaneously compelled to circulate. Like the concept of a “counterpublic” from which it takes its name, the countershelf uses literature to enact a minoritized discursive space, one irreducible to – though not untouched by – institutional power. The Introduction traces the countershelf’s four key features: the idea of being “contrary” to a dominant, canonical tradition; of having been “curated” through interpersonal relationships with other readers and writers; of being “circulated” through channels both practical and affective; and, finally, of being “contested” between various writers participating in the tradition, rather than a site of pre-established ideological unity.
This chapter illustrates the major claims of the countershelf through its most frequent occupant, Pablo Neruda. Yet his appearance is different than later Latin American authors, who act primarily as stylistic models. Instead, it is Neruda himself who lives on, reincarnated as a “transmigrant,” who acts as a site of internal contestation between projects that are stylistically, even generically, quite distinct. After Neruda’s Nobel Prize and untimely death in the early 1970s, the painter Vivan Sundaram, poets including Agha Shahid Ali, Marie Cruz Gabriel, and Sirsir Kumar Das, and prose writers like Mohsin Hamid and Ravish Kumar all reincarnate Neruda’s persona as a way of thinking about the contest between aesthetic and political commitment through which their own creative endeavors might become global. Their perception of Neruda’s conflictual commitments emerges out of the real arc of his poetic career. These prompt a reconsideration of one of the most discordant – and yet essential – moments of Neruda’s oeuvre: his reincarnation-themed poetry of the first volume of Residencia en la tierra – written while Neruda worked as a consular functionary in British India from 1927 to 1929.
Ever since T.B. Macaulay leveled the accusation in 1835 that 'a single shelf of a good European library was worth the whole native literature of India,' South Asian literature has served as the imagined battleground between local linguistic multiplicity and a rapidly globalizing English. In response to this endless polemic, Indian and Pakistani writers set out in another direction altogether. They made an unexpected journey to Latin America. The cohort of authors that moved between these regions include Latin-American Nobel laureates Pablo Neruda and Octavio Paz; Booker Prize notables Salman Rushdie, Anita Desai, Mohammed Hanif, and Mohsin Hamid. In their explorations of this new geographic connection, Roanne Kantor claims that they formed the vanguard of a new, multilingual world literary order. Their encounters with Latin America fundamentally shaped the way in which literature written in English from South Asia exploded into popularity from the 1980s until the mid-2000s, enabling its global visibility.
This article pits two conceptions of modernity—that of the Marxist humanist Marshall Berman and the ANT (Actor-Network Theory) sociologist Bruno Latour—against each other, exploring the implications of each for postcolonial and world literary criticism. The article begins by explaining “modernity” in the terms of both theorists, focusing on the “split” between subject and object, text and world. It then identifies a wider Latourian turn in postcolonial and world literary studies that has emerged in response to the prescriptively structural approaches of groups such as the WReC. In response, the article offers in turn a Latourian reading and then a structural critique of the Colombian novelist Juan Gabriel Vásquez’s fifth novel, The Sound of Things Falling (2011, trans. 2013), probing their possibilities and limitations. In conclusion, it suggests Berman’s more expansive definition of modernist practice as one way in which postcolonial and world literary criticism might more effectively mediate between structural critique and close reading.
Bakhtin's work is difficult to interpret because it amalgamates so many different intellectual strains and influences. His early interest in Neo-Kantian philosophy and phenomenology, the first largely mediated through his friend M. I. Kagan, structured his ideas permanently. His interest in and commitment to Christian thought, and Russian Orthodox thought specifically, was important but is often over-emphasised. Bakhtin's further intellectual development was spurred by encounters with Russian Formalism, linguistics (particularly early versions of sociolinguistics), and the Marxist literary debates of his time. Far from maintaining a saintly distance from the diputes around him, Bakhtin was fully engaged by and tried to participate in debates about the role of style in literary writing and the idea of realism and the positive hero.
Rabindranath Tagore’s essay on world literature, Viśvasāhitya (1907), is important not just because of the political and historical circumstances of its production, but because it advocates a method of ‘doing’ world literature that potentially frees us from the conundrums besetting the methods used so far if scholars writing on the essay were to read it for what it actually says. In this paper, the Bengali text of this essay is closely interrogated to arrive at the surprising conclusion that the idea of world literature that he arrives at in this essay, in complete contrast to Goethe’s, is not an addition of the national literatures of the world – that, he says, is a very provincial way of looking at the question. Instead, he posits here a philosophical notion related to an understanding of the self and the other which is predicated upon his inheritance of, and interest in, both Upanishadic high theory as well as popular folk culture. His concept (or anti-concept) was premised upon his advice to find the world in the self, and was one that may, perhaps, be mined for its emphasis on particularity and attention to the individual as it exists in relation to the whole.
The main aim of this chapter is to articulate the relationship between literary catalogs and their creation of readerships, especially when the said relationship is mediated by the state. I propose that the catalogs of national, and by extension world literature become politically and ideology inflected, sometimes through facilitation, other times through obstruction by the state and its ancillaries. I further argue in this chapter that through differentiations of the native and the foreign, the indigenous and the migrant—often propagated through majoritarian myths of national origins—the state functions to privilege certain languages and literatures over others by claims of ownership of certain literary traditions and rejection of others. In addition, the chapter also provide examples of ways in which populist conflations of the indigenous with the original are offered resistance. To this end, the chapter I want to draw attention to three “bibliographic” moments in the changing pact with books of the Indian reading publics: late nineteenth, mid-twentieth, and early twenty-first centuries.
This chapter critically rethinks world literature models through a discussion of Russian and East Asian (Korea, Japan, and China) literary relations and translation-related issues (including the politics of translation, the circulation of texts, and international literary prizes). During the early twentieth century, Russian literature was the most favored among the many foreign literatures that East Asian intellectuals enthusiastically imported. Though we may find many reasons for this, one aspect of Russian literature that is often highlighted in its East Asian context is its social mission. Literature takes on a responsibility beyond its role as an aesthetic product in societies where the state strictly regulates political speech and activity. Incorporating Russia as an explanatory tool for East Asian literatures lets us understand East Asian intellectuals’ shared desire for a socially committed literature that would both critique the present and envision a different future. This shared aspiration does not emerge so readily when we examine the individual relations between Russia and one or another East Asian culture, or when we address East Asian literatures in relation to Western European and American literatures. This aspect of Russian and East Asian literary relations substantially and historically challenges the diffusion model of world literature and the perspective that sees literary works as being embedded in competitive relations among national literatures. Through a discussion of recent world literary theories with a focus on translation, circulation, literary prizes, and ethical approaches to world literature, this chapter argues that we are best served by thinking of world literature not as an entity that operates by inclusion and exclusion or as a single diffusion network defined by hierarchical and competitive relations but as a totality of entangled literary and cultural relations and processes through which new meanings and implications are generated. Rethinking world literature as a new lens, rather than merely as an object to know, also provides new perspectives that allow us to understand the world better through various literatures and their connections.
This chapter addresses the dynamics of world literature from a postcolonial angle, integrating the role of the cultural industry in the dynamics of literature across borders. It focuses on the role of texts in reshaping cosmopolitan imaginaries, accounting for the tension between commercialization and the politics of resistance. In particular, the chapter addresses the role of digital technologies in articulating the worldliness of literature not just through circulation and reception but also through new narrative strategies and tropes that open up new scenarios for thinking and imagining migration beyond the limits of borders and geography. It takes as case studies Chimamanda Adichie’s Americanah (2013), in which blogging is used as a form of advocacy, Hamid Mohsin’s Exit/West, which introduces the expedient of magic doors as portals to overcome the sense of stuckness of migration, and the poems of Warson Shire, who emerges as a prominent new Instapoet capable of cutting across audiences, generations and media platforms.