World Literature After Empire : Rethinking Universality in the Long Cold War book cover
1st Edition

World Literature After Empire
Rethinking Universality in the Long Cold War

ISBN 9780367655204
Published July 29, 2021 by Routledge
222 Pages 13 B/W Illustrations

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Book Description

This book makes the case that the idea of a "world" in the cultural and philosophical sense is not an exclusively Western phenomenon. During the Cold War and in the wake of decolonization a plethora of historical attempts were made to reinvent the notions of world literature, world art, and philosophical universality from an anticolonial perspective. Contributing to recent debates on world literature, the postcolonial, and translatability, the book presents a series of interdisciplinary and multilingual case studies spanning Europe, the United States, and China. The case studies illustrate how individual anti-imperialist writers and artists set out to remake the conception of the world in their own image by offering a different perspective centered on questions of race, gender, sexuality, global inequality, and class. The book also discusses how international cultural organizations like the Afro-Asian Writers’ Bureau, UNESCO, and PEN International attempted to shape this debate across Cold War divides.

Table of Contents


CHAPTER ONE – China and the Restaging of Afro-Asian World Literature

CHAPTER TWO – Moravia’s Presidency of PEN International

CHAPTER THREE – Translating Anticolonial Universality in Gramsci and Pasolini

CHAPTER FOUR –The Singular Universal in Sartre’s Lumumba Preface

CHAPTER FIVE –Malraux’s Imaginary Museum of World Art

CHAPTER SIX –Huang Yong Ping’s Competing Universalities


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Pieter Vanhove is an Associate Lecturer in the Department of Languages and Cultures at Lancaster University. He holds a Ph.D. in Italian and Comparative Literature from Columbia University. Pieter’s publications include articles in Critical Asian Studies, estetica: studi e ricerche, Senses of Cinema, and Studi pasoliniani.