The Multilingual Anthology of American Literature: A Reader of Original Texts with English Translations

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Overview

An 1830s African-American slave narrative written in Arabic. Dafydd Morgan, the only American immigrant novel published in Welsh. The Native American epic, Walum Olum, in the Lenape language. Theodor Adorno's dream transcripts, in German. A short story about the politics of abortion in working-class Chinatown. "Lesbian Love," a surprisingly explicit chapter from an 1853 New Orleans novel. A haunting 1904 ballad, "The Revenge of the Forests," that is one of the first expressions of radical environmentalism in the United States.

Largely ignored in the debates over canon and multiculturalism in America, indigenous American works written in languages other than English have over time disappeared from view.

The first anthology of its kind, The Multilingual Anthology of American Literature brings together American writings in diverse languages from Arabic and Spanish to Swedish and Yiddish, among others. Presenting each work in its original language with facing page translation, the book provides an important complement to all other anthologies of American writing, and will serve to complicate our understanding of what exactly American literature is.

American literature appears here as more than an offshoot of a single mother country, or of many mother countries, but rather as the interaction among diverse linguistic and cultural trajectories.

Consider that Cotton Mather spoke half a dozen languages and wrote in both Spanish and Latin. Or that the first short story known to have been written by an African American (and reproduced here) was written in French. Not only a literature of immigration and assimilation, American multilingual literature participates in the larger literary tradition which too often marginalizes authors who complicate the fit of authorship, citizenship, and language.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

"What exactly constitutes American literature? Harvard professors Marc Shell (OVERDUE; ART AND MONEY) and Werner Sollors (THEORIES OF ETHNICITY; BLACKS AT HARVARD; MULTILINGUAL AMERICA) offer a unique and fascinating twist with THE MULTILINGUAL ANTHOLOGY OF AMERICAN LITERATURE: A READER OF ORIGINAL TEXTS WITH ENGLISH TRANSLATIONS. They say that American literature doesn't include only material written in English--it includes a Lenape epic, WALAM OLUM; it includes Omar Ibn Said's African-American narrative in Arabic; it includes Victor Sejour's French story "Le Mutatre." Twenty-nine works are here, in languages ranging from Russian and Yiddish to Welsh and Norwegian, along with English translations, reminding us of America's polyglot roots."

-Publishers Weekly,

Library Journal
This unique anthology is the first compilation of American literature to collect works written in the United States from 1696 to 1994 in languages other than English and present them on the verso pages with English translations on the recto. As pointed out in the introduction by coeditor Sollors (English literature and Afro-American studies, Harvard), multilingual texts were common in older anthologies but have disappeared in more contemporary collections. This new volume may stimulate further studies and readers in this neglected aspect of American literature. As is usual with such efforts, not every work selected is worthwhile: of the 31 pieces chosen by the two editors and 32 contributors, roughly half are of excellent quality. American Indian dialects, French, Spanish, Polish, Welsh, Yiddish, Chinese, and Scandinavian are represented, and the selections encompass poetry, short stories, sermons, humor, and nonfiction. For academic library collections; primarily recommended as a text for college courses in alternative American literature. Morris Hounion, New York City Technical Coll. Lib., Brooklyn Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780814797525
  • Publisher: New York University Press
  • Publication date: 11/1/2000
  • Pages: 784
  • Product dimensions: 6.10 (w) x 9.10 (h) x 1.60 (d)

Meet the Author

Marc Shell is Professor of Comparative Literature and English and American Language and Literature at Harvard University.

Werner Sollors is Henry B. and Anne M. Cabot Professor of English Literature and Professor of Afro-American Studies and Chair of the History of American Civilization Program at Harvard University. He is the author and editor of numerous books, including The Multilingual Anthology of American Literature, Theories of Ethnicity: A Classical Reader, and Multilingual America: Transnationalism, Ethnicity, and the Languages of American Literature, all available from NYU Press.

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