This essay explores three aspects of the phenomenon of world literature in its resurgence in critical discourse: (1) world literature as allophone, or as heteroglossic alterity emanating from discrete geographic points with particular and would-be exclusive traditions; (2) world literature as differential idiom, an integral part of a heterogeneous corpus in contestation; and (3) world literature as unitary and universal concept projected globally from particular sites of discourse. Each aspect has had a degree of epochal primacy in literary history. All three aspects seem to coincide in an agonal three-dimensionality, with each projecting its own discursive tangent into a global agora with some mutual apprehension, but with an even greater lack of mutual comprehensibility in the concatenation.

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