Random thoughts on world literature.

I am really sorry for not posting anything about the books I read because I simply didn’t have any time to read anything at all, except the texts I am and was working with at university. I must admit though, that one of my courses actually has to do with my blog! How? Well, it’s about world literature and transculturality. We are going to work a lot with Goethe there, as he was the first to actually form the name ‘world literature’ as such, as well as skandinavian Authors, like Baggesen and Brandes.

Goethe developed his concept of world literature, germ. Weltliteratur, throughout different essays and letters etc. he wrote. As some might expect now, he didn’t put up a list of the most important books of his time, but he defined what world literature actually means. In his sense, it is the exchange of literature, translations and the communication of authors from different countries. He wants authors to develop further than just writing national literature, even though the concept of nations is still important for the own background and development before one can become cosmopolitan. Works are supposed to have a meaning  for other nations or rather: are cosmopolitan. They are the books that are part of the real world literature.

World literature means exchange and progress. You don’t simply stand still but develop, take nothing for granted and need to push the things you have further, trying to get better by looking how other nations develop and by adapting the good parts, yet leave out what they didn’t do so well.

Translation is an important part for the exchange. Books are being brought to other countries and with the help of translations, they are made open for people who didn’t speak the author’s language. Books spread more easily within Europe at this time, leaving Germany with the most important role in translations (according to Goethe). Germany was very productive at the time and the biggest part of different literary works from all over Europe was accessable in German. This might sound incredible, but it’s really logical due to Germany’s location in the centre of Europe with a lot of people, e.g. tradors and other travellers, passing through. It was way easier to get into contact with different nations.

But was does the whole concept of world literature mean for this blog? I’m not really sure yet, but I hope to find an answer to this or maybe develop my very own concept of what I think is world literature today. Goethe lived long ago, so therefore I think some adjustments need to be made to his ideas and thoughts. The first step, though, I did already during reading the books I read so far in translated versions. Of course I will stick to the original texts if possible, but yet the choice of the books I intend to read will be made partly also on translations. But what else will this concept teach me? Well, I hope I will learn that by reading on.

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