World famous, locally
Insights from the study of international canonization
ByMads Rosendahl Thomsen
Pages 5

The growing interest in world literature has been accompanied by a more nuanced perspective on translations and their vital role in enabling a cosmopolitan literary community beyond that of experts, whose expertise would in any case be too limited to talk of “the world.” The idealist vision of world literature as the canon of the best works and those that enlighten readers most about other cultures is often countered by the harsh reality of the works that actually get translated, republished, anthologized, and taught. A number of sources are available today in a completely different form than just a decade ago: publication records, world library holdings, coverage of literature in news media, and even approximate sales figures and sales ranks. In online communities, in addition, the large number of readers’ comments has turned them into a serious analytical tool, and methods for analyzing large bodies of texts are developing rapidly.