Latino/a Literature in Western Europe

Authored by: Frauke Gewecke

The Routledge Companion to Latino/a Literature

Print publication date:  August  2012
Online publication date:  October  2012

Print ISBN: 9780415666060
eBook ISBN: 9780203097199
Adobe ISBN: 9781136221613


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Nearly two centuries ago, Goethe, in his conversations with Eckermann, coined a term of long-lasting resonance: “Weltliteratur” or world literature as “the universal possession of mankind, revealing itself everywhere and at all times in hundreds and hundreds of men.” And he continued: “I therefore like to look about me in foreign nations, and advise everyone to do the same” (Eckermann 1930: 165). According to Goethe, the “epoch of World-literature” was a desideratum to be attained by the increasing communication among nations; for Marx and Engels it was a historically inevitable outcome: “In place of the old local and national seclusion and self-sufficiency, we have intercourse in every direction, universal interdependence of nations. … National onesidedness and narrowmindedness become more and more impossible, and from the numerous national and local literatures there arises a world-literature” (Marx 1932: 325). But Weltliteratur, as understood traditionally, is not an innocent term, as it designates a particular set or archive of works as “classics” or “masterpieces” endowed with a particular prestige or authoritative weight grounded on normative and highly selective value criteria.

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