The OF Blog: Which non-English works ought to be part of global literary awareness?

Monday, July 04, 2011

Which non-English works ought to be part of global literary awareness?

Leaving aside the arguments some might toss up in regards to "literary canons," which works not originally composed in English ought to be one of those "essential reads" that could bind global communities together?  For example, wouldn't Gabriel García Márquez's One Hundred Years of Solitude have something to say to someone whose native language is Vietnamese?  Or what about Confucius' Analects?  Wouldn't that philosophical work be interesting to a Cherokee or Quechua speaker?  Or how about the griot tales from West Africa?  Couldn't they hold some appeal to a Swede or Arab?

Just curious to see which non-English works (whether in English translation or in other translations) you feel might be of some value across linguistic/cultural divides.  If you find this to be of some interest, please feel free to repost this to your blog, Facebook, or Twitter.  The larger the conversation, the better, n'est ce pas?


Super Happy Jen said...

Difficult to say, as most of the non-english works that I've read have already received at least enough acclaim to be translated into English, and could already be considered known "Essestial Reads".

Having said that, I've always enjoyed "Le Petit Prince" by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry.

Redeni said...

How do you decide this? To know which works ought to be part ... you have to know which works would "function" in other cultural contexts. And what makes cultural contexts different is that different things are important in them. (Therefore french/english/german works are not so very different.) So the question could be: wich, say, vietnamese or african or chinese work did I read that gave me something special? (Or do you really want to know which german works should be part of ...?)

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