Hugo Meltzl de Lomnitz's 1877 list of ten “founding” languages for comparative literature implicitly includes the Americas, where at least five of the originary ten languages (English, French, Dutch, Portuguese, Spanish) were widely spoken at the time. Yet until very recently American texts in these languages have been largely excluded from comparative literary studies. A comparative reading of two 1877 texts—Meltzl's “Tasks of Comparative Literature” and José Martí's prospectus for the Revista Guatemalteca—reveals that the literatures of the Americas, and the Caribbean especially, are a supplement (in the Derridean sense) to Meltzl's Eurocentric model. Martí's 1877 prospectus for a comparative American literature is more inclusive than Meltzl's Eurocentric model of “polyglottism,” and it offers a vision of global comparative literary and cultural studies that we ignore to our peril.
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ALFRED J. LÓPEZ; Hugo Meltzl and That Dangerous American Supplement; Or, A Tale of Two 1877s. Comparative Literature 1 June 2009; 61 (3): 220–230. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/00104124-2009-012
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