DOI link for General introduction
General introduction book
Literature has “travelled” in many different fashions and guises throughout Europe, both in time and in space. This idea of travelling, also the subtitle of this chapter, helps us to look at the international and transnational dimensions of European literature, since literature does not necessarily abide by national or linguistic borders. This general introduction sets out to give a first sense of what European literature can be about, from geographical, chronological and institutional perspectives. It addresses a set of introductory aspects of the genre of a literary history and explains the general principles that underlie this specific European literary history. The main purpose of this handbook is to bring to light the various international dimensions of the literary histories of Europe, whilst also acknowledging, albeit mostly from a cross-national and cross-regional viewpoint, those tendencies and features that are at variance with this transnational dynamic. On a more conceptual level, this chapter enters into a discussion with the problem of “Eurocentrism” as it has been raised in the past few decades by postcolonial critics. It partly builds on their insights to motivate the chronological and thematic approach of this handbook, including the choices that have been made regarding periodization, themes, the use of canonical literature and the attention paid to reception. The chapter ends with a few practical guidelines to help the reader navigate through the book.