The Princeton Sourcebook in Comparative Literature: From the European Enlightenment to the Global Present

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As comparative literature reshapes itself in today's globalizing age, it is essential for students and teachers to look deeply into the discipline's history and its present possibilities. The Princeton Sourcebook in Comparative Literature is a wide-ranging anthology of classic essays and important recent statements on the mission and methods of comparative literary studies. This pioneering collection brings together thirty-two pieces, from foundational statements by Herder, Madame de Staël, and Nietzsche to work by a range of the most influential comparatists writing today, including Lawrence Venuti, Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak, and Franco Moretti. Gathered here are manifestos and counterarguments, essays in definition, and debates on method by scholars and critics from the United States, Europe, Asia, Africa, and Latin America, giving a unique overview of comparative study in the words of some of its most important practitioners. With selections extending from the beginning of comparative study through the years of intensive theoretical inquiry and on to contemporary discussions of the world's literatures, The Princeton Sourcebook in Comparative Literature helps readers navigate a rapidly evolving discipline in a dramatically changing world.

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What People Are Saying

Jonathan Culler
Combining classic essays with little-known pieces from across the centuries and around the world whose take on comparative literary study is especially pertinent to debates today, The Princeton Sourcebook in Comparative Literature will be an indispensable resource for debates about how to conceive of literary studies today and in the future, and a salutary reminder that for comparatists the questions posed by globalization have always been on the table.
Jonathan Culler, past president of the American Comparative Literature Association
Haun Saussy
Rebuilt many times on the high seas, comparative literature is a Noah's ark of texts, methodologies, languages, communities, and aspirations. This collection captures the restless, experimental, self-critical spirit of what has never been a discipline or a field but a project, from its emergence in the breakdown of Enlightenment universalism to current debates about circulation, translation, and value.
Haun Saussy, Yale University
Jean-Michel Rabate
This is an excellent anthology of the main texts that define the field of comparative literature. These pieces show how the discipline has been organized in the past and where it is going in an age of increased globalization. The excellent introductions are concise, clear, and well written. This is a book that all students of comparative literature will want to read.
Jean-Michel Rabate, University of Pennsylvania
Kevin McLaughlin
No other book gathers essays forming the major lines of comparative literature study from the Enlightenment to the present. I have no doubt that it will benefit anyone who teaches introductory courses in comparative and world literature. It is easy to imagine an undergraduate or graduate course structured by this book, with several literary works read alongside each of its sections. And The Princeton Sourcebook in Comparative Literature is scrupulously well organized and edited, with concise, informative biographical introductions that reveal the kinds of negotiations of language, national identity, and struggle that are at the heart of the discipline.
Kevin McLaughlin, Brown University
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780691132853
  • Publisher: Princeton University Press
  • Publication date: 8/3/2009
  • Series: Translation/Transnation Series
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 458
  • Sales rank: 889,838
  • Product dimensions: 5.90 (w) x 9.20 (h) x 1.20 (d)

Meet the Author

David Damrosch is professor of comparative literature at Harvard University and a past president of the American Comparative Literature Association. His books include "How to Read World Literature" and "What Is World Literature?" (Princeton). Natalie Melas is associate professor of comparative literature at Cornell University and the author of" All the Difference in the World: Postcoloniality and the Ends of Comparison". Mbongiseni Buthelezi is a doctoral student in English and comparative literature at Columbia University.

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Table of Contents



CHAPTER 1: Results of a Comparison of Different Peoples’ Poetry in Ancient and Modern Times (1797) 3
by Johann Gottfried Herder
CHAPTER 2: Of the General Spirit of Modern Literature (1800) 10
by Germaine de Staël
CHAPTER 3: Conversations on World Literature (1827) 17
by J. W. von Goethe and J. P. Eckermann
CHAPTER 4: From The Birth of Tragedy (1872) 26
by Friedrich Nietzsche
CHAPTER 5: Present Tasks of Comparative Literature (1877) 41
by Hugo Meltzl
CHAPTER 6: The Comparative Method and Literature (1886) 50
by Hutcheson Macaulay Posnett
CHAPTER 7: World Literature (1899) 61
by Georg Brandes
CHAPTER 8: From What Is Comparative Literature? (1903) 67
by Charles Mills Gayley


CHAPTER 9: The Epic and the Novel (1916) 81
by Georg Lukács
CHAPTER 10: Chaos in the Literary World (1934) 92
by Kobayashi Hideo
CHAPTER 11: From Epic and Novel (1941) 104
by Mikhail Bakhtin
CHAPTER 12: Preface to European Literature and the Latin Middle Ages (1948) 120
by Ernst Robert Curtius
CHAPTER 13: Philology and Weltliteratur (1952) 125
by Erich Auerbach
CHAPTER 14: From Minima Moralia (1951) 139
by Theodor Adorno
CHAPTER 15: Poetry, Society, State (1956) 150
by Octavio Paz
CHAPTER 16: Preface to La Littérature comparée (1951) 158
by Jean-Marie Carré
CHAPTER 17: The Crisis of Comparative Literature (1959) 161
by René Wellek


CHAPTER 18: The Structuralist Activity (1963) 175
by Roland Barthes
CHAPTER 19: Women’s Time (1977) 183
by Julia Kristeva
CHAPTER 20: Semiology and Rhetoric (1973) 208
by Paul de Man
CHAPTER 21: Writing (1990) 227
by Barbara Johnson
CHAPTER 22: The Position of Translated Literature within the Literary Polysystem (1978) 240
by Itamar Even-Zohar
CHAPTER 23: Cross-Cultural Poetics: National Literatures (1981) 248
by Édouard Glissant
CHAPTER 24: The World, the Text, and the Critic (1983) 259
by Edward W. Said
CHAPTER 25: The Quest for Relevance (1986) 284
by Ngũgĩ wa Thiong’o


CHAPTER 26: Comparative Cosmopolitanism (1992) 309
by Bruce Robbins
CHAPTER 27: Literature, Nation, and Politics (1999) 329
by Pascale Casanova
CHAPTER 28: Comparative Literature in China (2000) 341
by Zhou Xiaoyi and Q. S. Tong
CHAPTER 29: From Translation, Community, Utopia (2000) 358
by Lawrence Venuti
CHAPTER 30: Crossing Borders (2003) 380
by Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak
CHAPTER 31: Evolution, World-Systems, Weltliteratur (2006) 399
by Franco Moretti
CHAPTER 32: A New Comparative Literature (2006) 409
by Emily Apter


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