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Welcome to World Literature

Get ready for some of the finest literary output of all genres and periods produced by a wide variety of sources from around the world.

About world literature

To facilitate their understanding and teaching of literature, American and British academics and their universities usually organize literature overview courses into three major national or regional categories—American, British, and World Literature. This is also the way literature publications are normally organized on American and British library shelves and in bookstores.

Let's face it: any literature qualifies as world literature—it's all from Planet Earth. As far The Muse can tell, no aliens are writing at this time. But World Literature may seem to be treated by these institutions as a kind of catchall or "all other" category. Is that "fair?"

Most American and British academics have a vested interest in promoting their own literature. Nevertheless, they recognize that virtually every nation or region with an established culture and written language of its own boasts a brilliant, or at least a strong, literary tradition. Almost universally, they admire and acknowledge the caliber and contributions to the world made by Russian Literature, Chinese Literature, Latvian Literature, Finnish Literature, French Literature, Norse Literature, Spanish Literature, Indonesian Literature, Indian Literature, German Literature, and a host of others. They value and seek to preserve the individuality and originality of these peoples and works equally with their own.

Lumping so many bodies of literature into a single group called World Literature in no way diminishes respect for the quality and importance of other nations and regions, nor does it imply that other literatures deserve more attention or respect. Scholars further subdivide World Literature according to the nation and region each represents, and treat each according to its own lights. Russian Literature remains Russian, Chinese remains Chinese, and so on with the rest.

about this feature

In this feature, The Muse Of Literature has embraced the point of view adopted by American and British academics, universities, and libraries, and the concepts behind it.

Does a division of literature into American, British, and "all other," such as that adopted in this feature, reflect a bias that favors American and British literature? Is chauvinism at work when all other national and regional bodies of literature are assembled into one category? Not at all; there are good reasons for doing it.

There is much to be said for the practice of dividing Planet Earth's literature only three ways:

  • By themselves, American and British Literature comprise perhaps two-thirds or more of the earth's literary works.
  • Perhaps two-thirds or more of the planet's literature is written in the English language, while the remainder is split into as many as 300 languages.
  • Since English is the world's lingua franca; the preponderance of the world's publications are printed in English.
  • The readership of English language literary publications is perhaps the largest of any other single readership in the world.
  • Most literary scholarship has targeted literary works authored in English.
  • English Literature has been taught to more students than has been any other ethnic or national literature.

There are additional, practical considerations that dictate The Muse's division of literature into American, British, and World literature:

  • Most visitors to Electricka's web site read English.
  • Most visitors to Electricka's web site who are interested in literature are primarily (or only) interested in English Literature.
  • There are so many world literatures, it is daunting to explore more than a few.
  • Many literary works in the World Literature canon originally written in a non-English language are available in an English-language version.

Explore World Literature now

The Muse Of Literature invites you to explore works of World Literature.

Availability

This feature is in its initial stage of development. Return periodically to see future additions.

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