World literature  

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Fyodor Dostoyevsky (1821 – 1881)  Illustration: A Th. Dostoiewski (1895) by Félix Vallotton
Fyodor Dostoyevsky (1821 – 1881)
Illustration: A Th. Dostoiewski (1895) by Félix Vallotton

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World literature refers to literature from all over the world, including African literature, American literature, Latin American literature, Asian literature and European literature.


Johann Wolfgang von Goethe introduced the concept of Weltliteratur in 1827 in Über Kunst und Altertum to describe the growing availability of texts from other nations, including translations from Sanskrit, Islamic and Serbian epic poetry. Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels used the term in their Communist Manifesto (1848) to describe the "cosmopolitan character" of bourgeois literary production.

Although anthologies of "world literature" have often used the term to market a largely European canon, the past three decades have given rise to a much more expansive conception of literary interest and value. Recent books such as David Damrosch's What Is World Literature?, for instance, define world literature as a category of literary production, publication and circulation, rather than using the term evaluatively. Arguably, this is closer to the original sense of the term in Goethe and Marx.

World literature is conceptually similar to world cinema, world art and world music.

See also

Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "World literature" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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