Transnationality Of Literature Essay

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Transnationality of Literature in the Works by H. D. Thoreau and R. W. Emerson

Transnationalism as an approach within the discipline of American studies has been adopted not so long ago (Giles 62). However, the idea of transnationality of cultural heritage in general and of literature in particular is not an entire novelty. Already in the nineteenth century America there existed literary works that were similar to this approach in their argumentation. Ralph Waldo Emerson’s and Henry David Thoreau’s works – “Persian Poetry” and the chapter “Reading” from Walden respectively – are a good examples of such sources. Yet, it should be mentioned that these authors never explicitly use this terminology to argue their case. They rather imply the idea of certain universality of literature. Certainly, Emerson and Thoreau structure their arguments differently, but they seem to share the same opinion on at least three aspects. Firstly, they claim that books are for the mankind the main source of knowledge. Secondly, both authors argue that reading lists should include not only literary canon from the reader’s own country, but also should extend themselves onto the literature from other lands.
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“Persian Poetry” by R. W. Emerson and the chapter “Reading” from Walden by H. D. Thoreau are works that elaborate on this subject and substantiate the idea of transnationality of the literary canon. Although both authors do not explicitly use the term “transnational”, they argue that literature has or rather should have no boundaries. In this regard, they believe that such classics as Plato, Virgil, Burns, Shakespeare and others are not only mere sources of knowledge, but also affluent wellsprings of manifold cultural experience, which by enriching people’s minds influences their mindsets, thus broadening their horizons and leading to liberation of people’s
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