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Abstract

This essay traces the problem of world literature in key writings by the Egyptian scientist and littérateur Aḥmad Zakī Abū Shādī. Abū Shādī’s early nod to world literature (1908–1909) intimates the challenge of making literary particularity heard in the homogenizing harmonies of a world dominated by English. That problem persists in his account of a 1926 meeting with the Bengali polymath Rabindranath Tagore and in an essay of 1928 inspired by that meeting: one of the first manifestos of al-adab al-ʿālamī (world literature) in Arabic, predating the 1936 appearance of al-adab al-muqāran (comparative literature). While Abū Shādī lauds Tagore’s refusal to compare literatures East and West and insistence on the spiritual unity of all literatures, his struggles to articulate a world in which harmony is not an alibi for hierarchy suggest that neither comparative literature nor its would-be leveler – world literature – can shed the haunting specter of inequality.

In: Journal of World Literature

Abstract

Scholarship on production of cultural goods highlights translation of literary works as a key mechanism of cultural circulation. This article rethinks circulation beyond translation. It argues that changes in aesthetic labels applied to cultural goods can prompt a scale shifting that favors the diffusion of these goods beyond their vernacular space of circulation. This article studies the transnational success of the label literatura latinoamericana, which from the 1960s onward gained acceptance in Spanish, English, French, and other languages as the label that best captured the region’s literary uniqueness. This change in aesthetic labeling made it possible for literatura latinoamericana to enter world literature and for literary works such as One Hundred Years of Solitude to circulate at an unprecedented scale, as international bestsellers and classics. The article finds that aesthetic labeling – a “cultural kind” in the arts – is a far-reaching and understudied mechanism in cultural production and circulation.

In: Journal of World Literature
Author: Nathanael Pree

Abstract

The Rings of Saturn and other works by W.G. Sebald are discussed in conjunction with Landscape of Farewell, by Australian novelist Alex Miller, extending Aimé Césaire’s choc-en-retour, or “boomerang effect,” and following Michael Rothberg’s articulation of “Multidimensional Memory,” to inform a comparative, transcontinental analysis of specific aftershocks of colonialism. Contexts include contemporary Brussels, Indigenous Australia and the eroded coast of East Anglia. The effects of competing and complementary trajectories that arise from postcolonial memory, the presence of found books, following Homi Bhabha, and the intertextual presences of Joseph Conrad and explorer Ludwig Leichhardt, are discussed. The role of poesis articulated by an uncertain narrator against a background of exploitation and genocide is evaluated, as well as the effects of colonial activity on the landscape itself. In conclusion, the article considers the role of literature in effecting reconciliation and restitution.

In: Journal of World Literature

Abstract

In an era where cultural festivals multiply, so-called African festivals have spread in Africa, but also outside of the continent, in major cities as well as in little-known villages, for example in provincial France. What are some of their implications and effects in the case of francophone African literature? These events privilege a continental representation of literature, which often reveals itself as problematic when confronted with the complex geographies of the texts and authors represented at these festivals. Using cross-disciplinary methodology, this critical inquiry reads different reallocations of this persistent African matrix through a typology and contemporary examples (Kossi Efoui’s writings, the “Étonnants Voyageurs” and “Plein sud” festivals). As an object of study, festivals bear witness to the necessity of expanding the toolbox of the (world) literary scholar by making use of documentary sources and adopting ethnographic approaches. It reveals a structural tension between an African map and various concrete territories, where local issues matter often more than this continental category, and can affect the form and content of literature itself.

In: Journal of World Literature
In: The Mandate of Heaven
Author: Ilaria Natali

Abstract

This chapter analyses and compares different Italian translations of Pomes Penyeach by detailing some specific translation issues cast in broader theoretical questions. If every translation is only partial by nature, this feature seems to be somehow exasperated in the case of Joyce’s poems. The numerous obscurities and ambiguities in the original texts open the way to radically different interpretations that coexist and complement each other. Translators keep discovering and exploring new meanings, apparently without exhausting the potential of the source text. The Italian versions of Pomes Penyeach change according to transformations in the target cultural context. However, the original texts present additional and less conventional problems of durability due to the multiple attempts to re-define the Joycean corpus over the years. This is the case with the controversial publication of the collection Finn’s Hotel in 2013, containing two prose fragments that include and frame the lines of “Tutto è sciolto” and “Nightpiece.” Regardless of whether Joyce considered the pieces in Finn’s Hotel as independent works or early drafts for Finnegans Wake, a doubt is cast on the status of the two poems, which could now be read – and translated – according to new criteria.

In: Retranslating Joyce for the 21st Century
Author: Ilaria Natali

Abstract

This chapter analyses and compares different Italian translations of Pomes Penyeach by detailing some specific translation issues cast in broader theoretical questions. If every translation is only partial by nature, this feature seems to be somehow exasperated in the case of Joyce’s poems. The numerous obscurities and ambiguities in the original texts open the way to radically different interpretations that coexist and complement each other. Translators keep discovering and exploring new meanings, apparently without exhausting the potential of the source text. The Italian versions of Pomes Penyeach change according to transformations in the target cultural context. However, the original texts present additional and less conventional problems of durability due to the multiple attempts to re-define the Joycean corpus over the years. This is the case with the controversial publication of the collection Finn’s Hotel in 2013, containing two prose fragments that include and frame the lines of “Tutto è sciolto” and “Nightpiece.” Regardless of whether Joyce considered the pieces in Finn’s Hotel as independent works or early drafts for Finnegans Wake, a doubt is cast on the status of the two poems, which could now be read – and translated – according to new criteria.

In: Retranslating Joyce for the 21st Century
In: Law, Language and Change
Author: Omar Khalifah

This paper examines the ways in which Arabic literature has been introduced into world literature anthologies. Taking The Longman Anthology of World Literature as a case study, the paper questions the politics of the inclusions and exclusions of Arabic literature in the anthology. Pertinent to the discussion is to ponder the nature of Arabic literature that “makes it” into the anthology. In addition, the paper will demonstrate how the anthology in fact obscures, rather than illuminates, major historical trajectories of Arabic literature. The complexity of Arabic literature, its highly self-reflexive texts, and its internal developments throughout history beg for a different approach that, I argue, this world literature anthology is lacking. Equally significant, The Longman recycles several common orientalist clichés about Arabic literature, the most important of which is that there is no Arabic literature worthy of inclusion in the three volumes of the anthology spanning the thirteenth-nineteenth centuries. As for the pieces that are included, the paper will reflect on the size and space they are offered, arguing that these are not arbitrary choices, but rather indicative of how a non-Western literary tradition is appropriated into a world literature anthology.

In: Journal of World Literature
Author: Shuang Yu

Abstract

In view of the importance of canon formation in the rewriting of Chinese literary history and the role of translation anthologies in constructing literary canons, this article examines the process of canonization represented in the anthologies of Renditions from 1973 to 2020. It observes the literary works that the Renditions’ anthologies attempt to build into canons and delves into the reasons behind the canon building. It concludes that the anthologies of Renditions challenge and subvert the literary canons established by the Chinese mainland, while trying to reconstruct and even popularize new canons from a Hong Kong perspective. Moreover, Renditions’ efforts to anthologize Chinese literature open up new possibilities for future canon formation and pave the way for a more comprehensive revision of Chinese literary history.

In: Journal of World Literature