Less concerned with the concept of World Literature than with the promise and perils of conceptualization, this essay considers what experiencing some forms of writing as world literature might involve. Using J.M. Coetzee’s In the Heart of the Country (1977) as an illustrative example, it addresses questions of circulation, translation, writing systems, book history, and literary geography in the context of recent academic debates about world literary studies. It concludes by revisiting Rabindranath Tagore’s landmark 1907 essay “World Literature,” arguing that it remains an indispensable guide to experiential reading and anti-conceptual thinking.
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