Comparative Literature Analytical Essay by JPWrite

Comparative Literature
A review of Susan Bassnett's book "Comparative Literature: A Critical Introduction".
# 67339 | 2,100 words | 1 source | MLA | 2006 | US
Published on Jul 05, 2006 in English (Analysis) , Literature (Comparative Literature)

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This paper reviews and critiques the book "Comparative Literature: A Critical Introduction" by Susan Bassnett. The paper divides the book into two distinct, yet interrelated, parts: A general history of comparative literature and an examination of various topics in comparative literature. The paper parallels the book, recounting the historical roots of comparative literature in Europe (chapter 1) and outside of Europe (chapter 2). Then the paper turns to the special topics and details Bassnett's assertions in each. The paper covers the literature of the British Isles, post-modern literature, travel narratives and translations. The paper then critiques the book. While the author calls the book laudable provocative, she does point out some short-comings, namely poor copy editing and an inappropriate attention to writings in translation as a comparative study.

From the Paper:

"Comparative Literature: A Critical Introduction is a provocative book. There are certainly praiseworthy sections of it. The portrayal of the history of comparative literature as it developed in Europe and America is well-done and the differences between the two models are made very clear. Bassnett's depiction of the state of comparative literature in non-Western countries is important, for these countries are often overlooked, just as the various literatures of the British Isles are often overlooked and lumped together as "British." Bassnett is especially convincing when writing on travel narratives. Her discussion of how the non-Western world has been perceived and mythologized is insightful and it is important that she recognizes that exchange between the colonizer and the colonized takes place in both directions. Her analysis of the stereotypes attached to the north and the south is excellent, and her choice of Iceland as the subject for the lure of the north is a propitious one. Furthermore, the recognition of the sexualization of foreign lands is perceptive, and is a good example of how texts not traditionally thought of as worthy of literary study can indeed yield insights which pertain to more traditional literature, as well. The chapter on Guinevere provides a concise overview of a character as it develops in literature over the course of centuries and how the popularity of that character changes with the times. It is clear that Bassnett is passionate about translation studies, and she summarizes the field succinctly and understandably, which is of importance, since many readers will probably not be as familiar with translation studies as with, say, post-colonial literature. Stylistically, the book is constructed well. As I noted earlier, Comparative Literature begins with the history of the field and then proceeds into a series of case studies, one of which is translation. But by subsuming comparative literature under the rubric of translation studies, Bassnett makes translation studies part of the history, or, better, the future, of comparative literature. The final chapter is, then, a continuation of the history of comparative literature begun in the first two chapters."

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