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This chapter excavates a literary genealogy of the term world and examines its valence for thinking about world literature in our global age. It also unravels the complex relation between the empirical world picture around 1989 and the novel worlds explored in the book in order to foreground a notion of the literary that is not synonymous with the politico-economic coordinates of contemporary globalization. The idea of the world proposed here is qualitatively irreducible to the trope of maximal territorial expansion, that is, the globe. At the same time, the world is theorized as an ineffaceable aesthetic and normative horizon of our global present.

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