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In the Shadow of World LiteratureSites of Reading in Colonial Egypt$
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Michael Allan

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9780691167824

Published to Princeton Scholarship Online: January 2018

DOI: 10.23943/princeton/9780691167824.001.0001

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The World of World Literature

(p.17) 1 World
In the Shadow of World Literature

Michael Allan

Princeton University Press

This chapter focuses on the world of world literature—understood as either the site at which a literary work is produced (for world systems theory) or the site disclosed in the literary work itself (through practices of close reading). It examines the scholarship of Franco Moretti, Pascale Casanova, and Edward Said in order to elucidate dominant frames for understanding world literature and interweaves these different frames with selected scenes from modern Egypt: the first, the protests on the streets of Cairo of a Syrian novel deemed blasphemous, Haydar Haydar's Walīmah li-aʻshāb al-bahr (A Banquet for Seaweed); and the second, the awarding of the Nobel Prize to Naguib Mahfouz. Drawing from Said's notion of secular criticism, the chapter argues that reading—and not solely textuality—should be understood as worldly activity with a normative force across interpretative communities.

Keywords:   world literature, Franco Moretti, Pascale Casanova, Edward Said, Egypt, Naguib Mahfouz, secular criticism, reading, Haydar Haydar, Walīmah li-aʻshāb al-bahr

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