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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: World Literature and Postcolonial Studies

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
In: Armenia through the Lens of Time

Abstract

The early Christian Armenians, who were familiar with pre-Christian ancient oriental, Mesopotamian and biblical poetry and with Greek-Byzantine ecclesiastical poetry in particular, enjoyed the use of plays on words and letters in almost all of its main forms from the very beginning of Armenian literature in the 5th century CE.

The present study is a first attempt at a systematic survey of this form of technopaignia in Armenian literature. On the basis of hymnographical texts from the 5th to the 12th century (in the author’s own translation), the varieties of acrostics in Armenian spiritual songs are identified and presented.

This preliminary analysis, which begins with the investigation of a type of acrostics in the Hymnarium of the Armenian Apostolic Church, the Šaraknocʽ, should serve as a basis for a future systematic analysis of this poetic device in Armenian literature, namely in the collections of hymns (Ganjaran, Tałaran, Ergaran) as well as in medieval poetry and prose in general, historiographical and grammatical works included.

The article ends with an acrostic poem for the honorand, woven from the alphabetic octosyllabic quatrains of Nersēs Šnorhali’s (12th century) didactic poem Instruction for studious youngsters on behalf of the letters of the alphabet in metric rhymed verse by Lord Nersēs.

Open Access
In: Armenia through the Lens of Time

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:

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
Author:

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: World Literature and Postcolonial Studies

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