In recent years, literary scholars have reintroduced the idea of world literature—first elaborated by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe in the early decades of nineteenth century in his discussions of Weltliteratur with his disciple Johann Peter Eckermann—to move literary studies beyond both traditional paradigms of national literatures and postcolonial theory. Debjani Ganguly's This Thing Called the World is a timely intervention in this rich field of critical inquiry. What is the relation, she thoughtfully asks, between a world of “hyperconnected humans sensitized as witnesses to the depredations of gruesome global violence and the excesses of liquid capitalism,” on one hand, and the “contemporary world novel” on the other (23, 24)? In raising this important question, Ganguly does not mean to suggest that the imagined worlds conjured in the world novel are somehow reducible to empirical antecedents nor that the world novel is an essentially...
The World Novel and the Perils of “One-World Thinking”
ALI BEHDAD is professor of English and comparative literature, John Charles Hillis Chair in Literature, and director of the Center for Near East Studies at UCLA. He is the author of Belated Travelers (1994), A Forgetful Nation (2005), and Camera Orientalis (2016).
Ali Behdad; The World Novel and the Perils of “One-World Thinking”. Novel 1 August 2019; 52 (2): 326–329. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/00295132-7547056
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