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Foreign literature across Space and Time

Though I’m French, most of the books I’ve read are foreign novels, and by foreign, I mean Americans (except for Harry Potter and a couple of other exception, but not that much), while the books I have to read for classes are French and especially French – or French-written – classics. It made me realize that I don’t really know classic books from other countries – I might have heard of them, but I’d never read them – while using American contemporary novels in my essays isn’t the best way to have a good grade! I was then wondering… quite a few things!

Pell-mell: How domestic and foreign literature is tackle elsewhere in Europe, elsewhere outside Europe, in the USA, in the UK, for instance? Are there contemporary foreign books – French books for instance – that are famous in the US, the UK, in Sweden, in Brazil, anywhere outside of its original country? What define “classic”? Does it depends on the country, or is Goethe’s concept of “Weltliteratur” (basically, global literature) real, widespread? To what extent time define whether a book is a “classic”? And, finally, any reading advice concerning foreign classics?

[I’m not quite fluent in English yet, so I hope it was understandable, and not too messy!]

  • Interesting topic. From a North American perspective, I have noticed that it depends greatly on the distribution and quality of the translation of the novels. The marketing campaign also adds an extra layer especially in regards to contemporary works.As a comics scholar, I have seen European comics make or break in the North American market depending on how the author/illustrator interacts with the readers. For example, the success of the French cartoonist Pénéloppe Bagieu is due to her careful marketing (social media, interviews) and being present in the comics festival circuits in North America. – kpfong83 8 months ago
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