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The end of national literatures?

Book cover.

Book cover.

10/12/2021

Cultura

The volume Weltliteratur i literatura comparada. Perspectiva des d’Europa (UB Publications and Editions, 2021), curated by Antoni Martí Monterde, lecturer of Theory of Literature and Comparative Literature at the UB, and Enric Sullà, professor of Theory of Literature and Comparative Literature at UAB, gathers the contributions made by some of the most relevant voices in the field of comparatism in a book that questions the meaning of the current Weltliteratur.

 

On the 31st January, 1827, in a conversation with J.P Eckermann, Goethe stated: “I like to look about me in foreign nations, and advise everyone to do the same. National literature is now a rather unmeaning term; the epoch of world literature is at hand, and everyone must strive to hasten its approach”. These words have the bases, the values and the ideals of what has become over the years, comparative literature. However, it has been understood in different ways: for more than a century, each literary generation has felt the need to wonder what Goethe meant at the time and the meaning of this idea at every moment.

Weltliteratur i literatura comparada. Perspectiva des d’Europa offers a European view on the comparative studies on universal literature. The experts Borja Bagunyà, Anna Boschetti, Josep Jurt, José Lambert, Àlex Matas Pons, Antoni Martí Monterde, Bernat Padró Nieto, Neus Penalba, Teresa Rosell Nicolás, Enrique Santos Unamuno, Enric Sullà and János Szávai take part in the reflection on an idea that, despite its different names over the years (world literature, république Mondiale des lettres, literatura mundial, espai literari internacional, etc.), keeps its spirit, always renewed, as a categorical imperative.

Borja Bagunyà analyses some problems in the global novel; Anna Boschetti, the transnational turn in literary studies; Joseph Jurt goes over the concept of Goethe’s Weltliteratur as a first draft of an international literary field; José Lambert offers a comparative study of the concepts world literature, comparative literature and translation studies; Àlex Matas Pons analyses Weltliteratur from the Catalan production perspective; Antoni Martí Monterde studies Catalan literature as Weltliteratur; Bernat Padró Nieto presents the comparative study of literary journals; Neus Penalba offers a reading on the figure of Milan Kundera and the peripheral Europeanism of small nations from a Catalan perspective; Teresa Rosell Nicolás analyses Pascale Casanova’s Beckett l’abstracteur from a comparative literature view; Enric Sullà examines the change from Bordieu’s notion of literary field to Pascale Casanova’s notion in La República mundial de las Letras; last, János Szávai closes the volume with a reflection on Weltliteratur and the European literature.

Weltliteratur i literatura comparada. Perspectiva des d’Europa is the last volume in the collection Figura, an initiative by the Research Group on Comparative Literature in the European Intellectual Space of the University of Barcelona, led by Antoni Martí Monterde. Their aim is to alternate the recovery of unknown or forgotten texts of the history of comparative literature, the dissemination of results of collective research conducted by the group in collaboration with MUHBA and the publication of new volumes by contemporary authors. Other publications of the collection are Assaigs d’història comparada dels intel·lectuals, by Joseph Jurt, curated by Antoni Martí Monterde (2021), Maurice Blanchot. La pasión del errar, by Túa Blesa (2020), Cultura / El vell i el nou humanisme, by Victor Klemperer (translated by Marc Jiménez Buzzi, 2019), and El comparatisme en els escriptors catalans, curated by Antoni Martí Monterde and Teresa Rosell Nicolás (2019).

 

Antoni Martí Monterde is a lecturer of Theory of Literature and Comparative Literature at the University of Barcelona. Apart from several articles on Josep Pla, Walter Benjamin, Joan Fuster and Xavier de Maistre on the relationship between critique, fiction and autobiography, he has published, as essayist, Stefan Zweig i els suïcidis d’Europa (Critical Serra d’Or Prize for Literature and Essay, 2021), L’home impacient (diaris 1996-1998) (Josep Vicent Marqués Essay Prize within the Ciutat de València Awards, 2019), Poética del Café. Un espacio de la modernidad literaria europea (finalist for the Essay Anagrama Prize, 2007) and J. V. Foix o la solitud de l’escriptura (Joaquim Xirau Prize 1997). In UB Publications and Editions, he leads the collection Figura, in which he has edited Assaigs d’història comparada dels intel·lectuals, de Joseph Jurt (2021), and has published El comparatisme en els escriptors catalans. La literatura comparada a Catalunya (wth Teresa Rosell Nicolás, ed., 2019), Comparatistes sense comparatisme. La literatura comparada a Catalunya (with Teresa Rosell Nicolás, ed., 2018), Qui acusa? Figures de l’intel·lectual europeu (with Bernat Padró Nieto, ed., 2015) and Joan Fuster. Figura de Temps (with Teresa Tosell Nicolás, ed., 2012).

Enric Sullà is a professor of Theory of Literature and Comparative Literature at the Autonomous University of Barcelona. Expert in narrative theory, he has published the anthology volumes of Poètica de la narració (1995) and Teoria de la novel·la (1996). He is also co-author, together with Pere Ballart and Joan Abellán, of the manual Introducció a la teoria de la literatura (1997). The core of his work when it comes to Catalan literature, has been the study of Carles Riba’s poetry, a topic on which he has published, among many texts, the book Una interpretació de les ‘Elegies de Bierville’ de Carles Riba (1993). He has also been in charge of the edition in five volumes —some in collaboration with Jaume Medina— of the poet’s Obres completes (1984-1992).

 

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