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This article explores the impact of the Nobel Prize in Literature on the acquisition policies of literary archives. Focusing on laureates and the twenty-first-century fate of their manuscripts, it argues that the international reach of the prize is mirrored by a contemporary archival landscape that is at once global and unequal. Although many archives concentrate on collecting material from the linguistic and cultural context of which they themselves form part, the past two decades have also seen the emergence of a competitive international market for the papers of authors whose writings are marked – through high-profile distinctions such as the Nobel Prize – as belonging to the world literary canon. Illustrating its larger argument with the help of three case studies (Harold Pinter, J.M. Coetzee, Gabriel García Márquez), the article suggests that archivization consecrates laureates’ papers as global heritage at the same time that it reinforces the logic of literary nativism.

In: Journal of World Literature