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.
Foundational Metaphors: Goethe’s World Literature; Posnett’s Comparative Literature (Azadeh Yamini Hamedani) 155
Foundational Metaphors: Goethe’s World Literature; Posnett’s Comparative Literature Azadeh Yamini-Hamedani “With metaphor we experience the metamorphosis of both language and reality” —Ricœur 85 he present article seeks to explore foundational metaphors in Goethe’s imagining of world literature and Posnett’s envisioning of comparative literature. These two terms, comparative and world literature, have come to mean so much in recent decades that any attempt to arrive at a stable definition leads to the realization that each person involved defines, shifts, and practices their meaning in accordance with their views. The present article, thus, does not strive to define what world and comparative literature are or what they have become, but rather how they were imagined into being, into language. To unfold how these terms come into being, we turn to the metaphors that surround them. Here, I define metaphor in a Ricœurian sense as a “spark of imagination… a ‘thinking more’ at the conceptual level,” “an emergent meaning created by language” (Ricœur 358, 114). What metaphors do Goethe and Posnett employ to express their vision of literature? What story do these metaphors tell, and what new possibilities do they create in experiencing and thinking about literature? In 1814 Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, at the age of 65, with The Sorrows of Young Werther and Faust I behind him, ventured through a translation into the poetry of Hafez, a Persian lyric poet of the fourteenth century. Fearing to lose his own voice in the poems of Hafez, Goethe was moved...
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