The Art Of Summary In Susan Bassnett's Comparative Literature

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The art of comparison is as old as humanity itself. It has a prominent and paramount part to play in the modern world comparison in every field has become a trend, fashion or even a dire necessity. The word ‘Comparative Literature’ was used in English for the first time by Mathew Arnold in 1848, when he was translating the French writer’s words, ‘Historie Camparative’. Susan Bassnett in her Comparative Literature: A Critical Introduction states: There is General agreement that comparative literature acquired its name from a series French anthologies used for the teaching of literature, published in 1816 and entitled Cours de littérature comparée. In an essay discussing the origins of the term, René Wellek notes that this title was 'unused and…show more content…
What becomes apparent when we look at the origins of comparative literature is that the term predated the subject. People used the phrase 'comparative literature ' without having clear ideas about what it was. With the advantages of retrospection, we can see that 'comparative ' was set against 'national ', and whilst the study of 'national ' literatures risked accusations of partisanship, the study of 'comparative ' literature carried with it a sense of transcendence of the narrowly nationalistic. In other words, the term was used loosely but was associated with the desire for peace in Europe and for harmony between nations. Central to this idealism was also the belief that comparison could be undertaken on mutual basis. It was also a reaction to nationalism in Europe. The origins of comparative literature in the early nineteenth century show an uneasy relationship between broad-ranging ideas of literature, for example Goethe’s notion of Weltliteratur, and emerging national literatures. Attempts to define comparative literature tended to concentrate on questions of national or linguistic boundaries. For the subject to be authentic, it was felt, the activity of comparing had to be based on an idea of difference: texts or writers or movements should ideally be compared across linguistic boundaries, and this view lasted a

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