Is it possible to come up with a better theory of the world than the ones governing contemporary debates on world literature and world-systems, to invent one more closely connected to the literary itself? This essay rethinks the relationship between “world” and literature, not to produce a mediating relay between world literature and world-systems but to see if a third analysis, focusing on the ontology of composed works, can bring “world” differently into the picture. The essay also investigates whether such a theory makes any difference to our understanding of world literature or to the history of worldedness as an aesthetic and cultural phenomenon: as a symptom and as a compass for the history, in other words, of totality as a function of the human imagination. Along the way, the essay develops five variables with which to analyze literary worlds, taken to refer to the represented totality of the work's diegetic space.
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Eric Hayot; On Literary Worlds. Modern Language Quarterly 1 June 2011; 72 (2): 129–161. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/00267929-1161286
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