Through an analysis of the legendary Islamic figure Khizr in the works of Norman O. Brown, Muhammad Iqbal, and Johann Wolfgang Goethe, this essay proposes world literature as a methodology for deriving possible alternatives to existing worlds. By tracing the dialectic of individual and collective selfhood in the figure of Khizr, the author delineates the fault lines that the encounter with this elusive figure portends for bourgeois imperialist regimes of identity. The counterpoint conveyed through the figure of Khizr is one that unveils paths toward practices of self-de-particularization and a symbolism of collective unity. Even in the twenty-first century, the figure of Khizr continues to serve as a potential for reawakening a linkage between Marxism, Islamic mysticism, the poetics of prophecy, the politics of nonidentity, and the philology of cultural contact zones.

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