The Location of World Literature

Galin Tihanov

Abstract


"How we actually understand 'world literature,' as an attestable reality of texts or as a prism - one might even be tempted to add a 'unit' - of comparison, in other words, a 'mode of reading,' is not a metaphysical issue. It has very real implications for the ways in which we approach questions such as how one should try to narrate the history of world literature. In addition to this fundamental differentiation, I also wish to suggest another, more concrete grid that should assist in this effort of locating world literature as a construct.... One needs to be aware of at least four major reference points: time, space, language, and, crucially, what one could term self-reflexivity - how literature itself reflects on, and creates images of, 'world literature,' thus opening up spaces for interrogation and dissent from the currently prevalent notions of world literature."

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