July 29, 2021

KITAAB

Connecting Asian writers with global readers

Is World Literature a wholesome idea?

1 min read

It’s hard not to be suspicious of anything as wholesome as World Literature. The word literature itself has come to sound fake. Is there something the addition of world is making up for, a blemish it’s trying to conceal?: n+1

World Literature certainly sounds like a nice idea. A literature truly global in scope ought to enlarge readers’ sympathies and explode local prejudices, releasing us from the clammy cells of provincialism to roam, in imagination, with people in faraway places and times. The aim is unimpeachable. Accordingly, nobody says a word against it at the humanities department conclaves, international book festivals, or lit-mag panel discussions where World Literature is invoked. People writing and reading in different languages (even if one language, English, predominates) about different histories and cultures and ideas: who could be against that?

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