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Foundational Texts of World Literature


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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(Mis)Reading as Engagement: Some Thoughts on World Literature and José Lezama Lima (Juan Pablo Lupi) 215


(Mis)Reading as Engagement: Some Thoughts on World Literature and José Lezama Lima Juan Pablo Lupi Our attempt is a poetic system, starting from poetry’s own possibilities and not from a dialectical development. That is, poetry starting from metaphor as that which goes beyond metamorphosis and the metanoia of the ancient world; from the image as proportion and new causality between man and the unknown; from the poetic hylozoism of the voice penetrating the flour to substantialize it [sustantivarla]; from the ruled hours or the productivity of the poetic instant; from the hyperbolic doubt as that which goes beyond synthesis; from the difference between corpuscle and germ; from the resistance of the body of poetry; from the poetic sentence as unit of double of double refraction; from the dimension or extension as creative force, that is, the energy in the extension must create the tree; from the infinite posibiliter; from the new substance; from the new laws of gravitation of the substance of the inexistent; from the greatest demand ever made to the imagination of man, that is, resurrection; may yield the orderings of the new paradisiacal time — “The Dignity of Poetry”1 ariously portrayed as paradigmatic representative of the Neobaroque, Catholic belletrist, mystic, or postmodern and queer theorist avant la lettre, the poet, novelist and essayist José Lezama Lima (Havana, 1910–1976) is widely regarded as one of the greatest Latin American writers of all time, and one of the most opaque and difficult writer in the Spanish language....

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