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Contextualizing World Literature


Edited By Jean Bessière and Gerald Gillespie

This book revisits the notion of World Literature and its applications in Comparative Literature. It suggests the notion not as a means to sift out international paradigms for reading literatures, but as a set of guidelines for the construction of interlocking and/or reciprocally illuminating multilingual literary clusters. These ensembles are of very diverse shapes: the world, a region, a country, a language block, a network of cross-cultural «interferences» – while the so-called minor literatures invite to question the use of these ensembles. Within this frame, fourteen essays respond to the basic paradox of World Literature: how may specific methodological and critical outlooks allow expression of the universal? The answers to this question can be arranged in three groups: 1. Recognition of the need to break loose from European or Western critical perspectives; 2. Presentation of macro- and microcosmic dimensions connectedness and its processes; 3. Definitions of the methodological efforts and hermeneutic orientations to be applied.
Jean Bessière is a Professor emeritus in Comparative Literature at the Université Sorbonne Nouvelle. He was the ICLA President from 1997 to 2000. He extensively lectured abroad. He coedited two ICLA books (Théorie littéraire: Problèmes et perspectives; Histoire des poétiques) and recently published Le Roman ou la problématicité du monde (2010), Questionner le roman (2012), Inactualité et originalité de la littérature française contemporaine (2014).
Gerald Gillespie is emeritus professor of Comparative Literature and German studies at Stanford University and a former president of the International Comparative Literature Association. His recent publications include: Proust, Mann, Joyce in the Modernist Context (2nd ed., 2010); Ludwig Tieck’s «Puss-in-Boots» and Theater of the Absurd (2013); The Nightwatches of Bonaventura (2013); and, as coed., Intersections, Interferences, Interdisciplines: Literature with Other Arts (2014).