World literature

To the world literature literary works are counted, who found across national and regional boundaries widespread and are simultaneously considered as significant for the world's population. The approach is thus similar to the considerations which have led to a term as a World Heritage Site. The concept of " world literature " was first used by Christoph Martin Wieland, who, however, including literature for the homme du monde, the " man of the world " understand. Goethe coined the term from 1827 in his magazine about art and antiquity around and gave him doing a meaning which still represents an essential part of the concept. He understood including the literature that was created from a supra-national, cosmopolitan spirit out.

Term use

Today, the term " world literature " comprises two different, methodologically not always clearly separated from each other ideas: a qualitative and a quantitative definition. In the qualitative definition will be assumed that the international dissemination of a work alone does not constitute a sufficient condition for the assignment to world literature. The decisive factor, however, are of exemplary artistic value of the respective work and its influence on the development of the world's literature. An agreement on generally accepted criteria to decide which works of world literary rank may be granted is not easy, especially as represented by era and region specifics of the development situation of the individual works are taken into account. Therefore, this use canonical become the term " world literature " is problematic, moreover, have different nations and peoples culturally different perspectives on the importance of literature. Thus, for example, in the West the tendency for a certain navel-gazing: Even basic works such as the Iliad or the Bible can hardly be seen as a " global " cultural property. After the Second World War subjected comparatists as the French literary theorist René Etiemble the term, therefore, a fundamental revision. The new quantitative concept of world literature " world literature as a totality in mind," and criticized the high- judgmental view of world literature as a " Euro-centric ". Given the scope of this literature to be considered, however, this second definition of world literature remains a utopia.

Literatures of the World

If you understand world literature in this second, broader sense than the totality of the entire literature of all time, the following review articles provide an insight into the literature of different languages ​​, religions, cultures and peoples:


Countries, regions


  • African American Literature
  • Indian mythology and literature of North America