This essay uses a comparative reading of two novels, Jan Potocki's Manuscrit Trouvé à Saragosse (Manuscript Found in Saragossa, 1804–15) and Charles Maturin's Melmoth the Wanderer (1820), to investigate the methodologies of comparative and world literature studies. Although these novels were written around the same time and are strikingly similar, critical reflections on their commonality have been limited to passing comments noting their resemblance. Examining ways in which a comparative reading could proceed, the article demonstrates how the historicist interpretive strategies typically mobilized in discussions of works from non-major traditions, coupled with dominant theories of the development of the novel, serve to occlude the formal innovations of both texts. Attending to their complex work of worlding yields new critical insights, revealing how these works anticipate literary techniques associated with globalization. This suggests, more broadly, a need for a more robust formalism in world literature studies, particularly in discussions of works from non-major traditions.
Constructing a Case: Reflections on Comparative Studies, World Literature, and Theories of the Novel's Emergence
Katarzyna Bartoszyńska; Constructing a Case: Reflections on Comparative Studies, World Literature, and Theories of the Novel's Emergence. Comparative Literature 1 September 2017; 69 (3): 271–287. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/00104124-4164406
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