What is Global Literature? If you ask this question to the greatest professor alive, which, unfortunately, is Google, you will get the references directing you towards ‘world literature’ and if you are lucky to use some broadband, you will end up knowing that ‘circulation of books around the world’ makes Global Literature happen. Well, I don’t buy that argument of whatsoever logic is present in that. There is a certain line which differentiates the terms ‘world’ and ‘global’ especially when we talk in the terms of literature. I would like to share my views on Global Literature in this post.
When I started my graduation in English Literature, I was rudely exposed to Lycidas in the very first year. Even though I enjoyed reading that, it took me long to understand the magnificent language used by Milton and also the context of that great elegy. However, in the second year, when I had to read tragedy by Shakespeare, Othello, and play by Congreve, Way of the World, I could, somehow, enjoy those more than Milton’s. Shakespeare certainly connected to my understanding as well as the to understanding of the class in general – the tragedy had universality attached to it. And thus, if I could say, without being ‘circulated’ in the terms of Google, Othello became a Global Literature phenomenon!
Not only the great English literary giants but also literary personalities across the world, who are universal and humane in their approach, qualify for the tag of ‘Global Literature’. To my mind, Vivekananda, the great Indian saint and philosopher and scholar and what not, always comes whenever I think in this direction. His works are also the best examples of Global Literature as they encompass not only the concerns of India or Asia, but the entire world. When he talks about tolerance; when he argues for the need to mutual harmony; when he requests people to co-exist with peace… I think his appeal has the global importance and I am also equally happy that the world, mostly, acknowledges that importance.
One of the important writers who can qualify for this Global Literature club is Henrik Ibsen, the popular Norwegian playwright. Hailed by the most as the father of ‘modern’ realism, I think his plays circumambulate not only the time he was producing plays, rather the past, present and also the future… Then, the writers from Russia – Tolstoy and Chekhov have also the global appeal in their literary productions.
I am glad that Ashvamegh will be organizing a discussion on this debatable topic this Sunday (9AM morning to the night, IST) on its WhatsApp group. It’d be great to see news ideas coming and the discussion will be uploaded on the website as well.