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Foundational Texts of World Literature

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Edited By Dominique Jullien

What makes a world author? How did Homer become a «cosmopolitan» author? How does a Mayan creation narrative challenge our Western logocentric ideas of foundational texts? What might world literature look like to a fourth-century Roman reader? How do past and more recent translations of Dante’s Commedia help us to rethink the changing definitions of world literature? How did the Alexander romance adapt to an Islamic context? How did Tasso’s epic adapt to a later cultural context dominated by the «Turkish Fear»? What shaped the West’s first impression of The Tale of Genji? How does the Ovidian myth of Arachne migrate from Japan to the Caribbean? What are the foundational metaphors at the root of Goethe’s weltliteratur paradigm? What happens when cultures import canonical texts for lack of their own? By what process does an eccentric writer reconstruct a new foundational text from heterogeneous fragments of other cultures? How did literary criticism contribute to the canonization of the Thousand and One Nights in Western literature? What is left of the primacy of the national language when writers are published simultaneously in various translations? How do modern misreadings shape our understanding of national epics and ensure their survival?
World literature, first intuited in Goethe’s foundational idea of weltliteratur as literature that seeks to transcend national boundaries, is viewed here in its essential mobility and migratory capacity, which relies on the centrality of the reading act. This volume focuses on foundational texts as they are read across cultures, languages and historical contexts. Its goal is to reflect on canonical texts – from Homer’s Odyssey to Murakami’s Genji, from Cervantes to Mayan hieroglyphs, from Dante to Coetzee, from Goethe to Lezama Lima, from the Thousand and One Nights to Jorge Luis Borges – in a global perspective: how they are translated, appropriated, transformed, how they travel across different cultures and languages, their foundational status evolving accordingly in a post-European world.
Foundational Texts of World Literature includes contributions by Gerardo Aldana, Sandra Bermann, Piero Boitani, Michael Emmerich, Azadeh Yamini Hamedani, Stefan Helgesson, Paulo Lemos Horta, Juan Pablo Lupi, Peter Madsen, Ulrich Marzolph, Suzanne Saïd, Evanghelia Stead, Mads Rosendahl Thomsen, and Richard Van Leeuwen.

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Introduction ......................................................................................................1 Dominique Jullien World Literature Two Thousand Years Ago: Reflections of a Senator in 306 A.D. ..........................................................................17 Piero Boitani Homer, or How to Create a World Writer......................................................29 Suzanne Saïd On Deciphering Ancient Mesoamerican Foundational Texts: The Challenges of a Non-Logos-Based Creation Narrative ....................47 Gerardo Aldana The Creative Reception of the Alexander Romance in Iran...........................69 Ulrich Marzolph In the Light of Translation: on Dante and World Literature ..........................85 Sandra Bermann The Canonization of the Thousand and One Nights in World Literature: The Role of Literary Criticism .............................101 Richard Van Leeuwen Epic Encounters—from Torquato Tasso’s Gerusalemme Liberata to Miklós Zrinyi’s Obsidio Szigetiana...................................................119 Peter Madsen The Lusiads as World Literature: The Romantic Hypothesis of Eastern Influence on Camões ............................................................139 Paulo Lemos Horta Foundational Metaphors: Goethe’s World Literature; Posnett’s Comparative Literature ..........................................................155 Azadeh Yamini Hamedani Contents vi Worldwide Tales and the Latin Tradition: The Myth of Arachne in Jan Havlasa’s Four Japanese Tales (1919) and Grace Hallworth’s A Web of Stories (1990) ..........................................165 Evanghelia Stead A New Planet: The Tale of Genji as World Literature.................................177 Michael Emmerich “… A casement opening on the spectacle of the world …”: Post-European Texts in Translation.......................................................191 Stefan Helgesson Subversive Foundations: Renaissance Classics and the Imported Canon ...............................................................................207 Mads Rosendahl Thomsen (Mis)Reading as Engagement: Some Thoughts on World Literature and José Lezama Lima...........................................................................215 Juan Pablo Lupi Notes on Contributors ..................................................................................229

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