In his article, "The Goethean Concept of World Literature and Comparative Literature," Hendrik Birus presents a new reading and understanding of Goethe's famous dictum: "National literature does not mean much at present, it is time for the era of world literature and everybody must endeavour to accelerate this epoch" (Eckermann 198, 31 January 1827). According to Birus, this dictum is not to be taken at face value today and argues that Goethe's concept of world literature ought to be understood in the sense that today it is not the replacement of national literatures by world literature we encounter; rather, it is the rapid blossoming of a multitude of European and non-European literatures and the simultaneous emergence of a world literature -- mostly in English translations -- as two aspects of one and the same process. The understanding of this dialectic, Birus argues, ought to be one of the main targets of comparative literature today.
"The Goethean Concept of World Literature and Comparative Literature."
CLCWeb: Comparative Literature and Culture
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