Der Essay formuliert im Anschlu an einen Aufsatz von Gy. M. Vajda ber “Methodologische Fragen der Weltliteratur” (1986)
die Schwierigkeiten einer theoretisch gut fundierten Weltliteraturgeschichte, die in der Praxis mit weltliterarischen (Werk-
oder Autoren-) Lexika “umgangen” wird. Am Beispiel zweier weltliterarischer Enzyklopdien, dem deutschen “Kindler Literatur
Lexikon” und der Franzsischen “Histoire des Littratures” in der “Encyclopdie de la Pliade” wird versucht, diesen Widerspruch
pragmatisch aufzulsen, indem die beiden Werken zugrunde liegenden Prinzipien – hinsichtlich einer Weltliteraturgeschichte
und ihrer Grenzziehungen – untersucht und im Hinblick auf Mglichkeiten der Verbesserung und Weiterentwicklung befragt werden.
Dabei erscheint die von Gy. M. Vajda formulierte Vision einer “Zukunft der Literaturwissenschaft” als utopischer Blick in
das neue Jahrtausend.
The German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche (1844–1900) briefly mentioned world literature twice in his work, once in Die Geburt der Tragödie aus dem Geiste der Musik (The Birth of Tragedy out of the Spirit of Music), first published in 1872, then later in Jenseits von Gut und Böse (Beyond Good and Evil) of 1886. Both mentions are puzzling, ambivalent, allusive, and in need of hermeneutic explication. They ask the “big question”
of world literature, namely what consolation (Trost) it can provide modern man. This essay examines Nietzsche’s discussion
in light of the (substantially different) overall arguments of the two works, and of the potential sources for Nietzsche’s
idea of world literature. It then turns to later writers who, at times under the direct influence of Nietzsche, have examined
world literature under a similar optic.
Since world literature is represented in different languages, translation has played an important role in reconstructing such
world literatures in different languages and cultural backgrounds. In the past decades, the postcolonial literary attempts
have also proved that even in the same language, for instance, English, literary writing is still more and more diversifying,
hence the birth of international English literature studies. Thus the concept “world literature” is no longer determinate,
for it has evolved in the historical development of literature of all countries. Today’s literary historiography is thereby
pluralistically oriented: not only by means of nation-state, for instance, British literature and American literature, but
also by means of language, such as (international) English literature(s), and (international) Chinese literature(s). Walter
Benjamin, in dealing with the task of the (literary) translator, pertinently points out that translation endows a literary
work with “continued life” or “afterlife”, without which many literary works of world significance will remain dead or marginalized.
Inspired by Benjamin’s thinking of translation and Damrosch’s emphasis on the role played by translation in constructing world
literature, the author lays particular emphasis on the translation of literary works which may well help form such a world
literature. The reason why Chinese literature is little known to the world is largely for lack of excellent translation. The
author thereby calls for translating Chinese literature into some of the major world languages.
Perhaps best known as a peerless virtuoso in his day and a composer the significance of whose contributions to the Western tradition was only appreciated in the latter half of the 20th century, Ferenc Liszt was also among the most ambitious composers of the 19th century in his exposure to works of literature and his interest in the interactions of literature and music. The following article examines the interrelationships between his music and the works of literature he chose as inspirations and in some cases as texts to be put to music.
World Literature’s time has come again in the current development of a new discipline of World Literature suitable for a time
of globalization. The new disciple faces some challenges: the challenge of translation, the challenge of what literary works
to choose as representative, the challenge of making a universal definition of “literature.” The thought experiment of imagining
what commentary you would need to put with a translation into Chinese of W. B. Yeats’s lyric, “The Cold Heaven,” exemplifies
these problems. Explaining the reasons for Friedrich Nietzsche’s rejection of Goethe’s Weltliteratur, in The Birth of Tragedy, is, when that rejection is put into the context of The Birth of Tragedy as a whole and of other writing by Nietzsche, a good example of the theoretical problems that the renewed discipline of World
Literature may need to take into account.