Introduction: Canon and the World Literary Writer
This chapter reevaluates Heinrich Heine’s poetically and culturally diverse work as a model of world or worldly literature. It summarizes some of the main points in the contemporary debates about the meaning and scope of world literature/s. While no single definition of what constitutes world literature in our age of accelerated cultural movements across the globe can do justice to this concept, innovative approaches to world literature by noted critics, such as Milan Kundera, Venkat B. Mani, Pascale Casanova, John Pizer, and David Damrosch illustrate the distance gained since Goethe’s famous pronouncement about the coming age of Weltliteratur. This chapter further stresses the importance of Heine’s philosophically informed prose in his journalism and on travel, censorship, translation, and exile. It also establishes a relationship between Heine’s censor-resistant strategies and those of the censored writers from both Europe and the Middle East.