Chapter 20. Comparative Literature

Table of Contents

This section is highly selective and emphasizes those works likely to be of most value to researchers whose primary interest is literatures in English. For additional reference works in comparative literature, consult Thompson, Key Sources in Comparative and World Literature (S4850).

General Introductions

For an evaluative survey of introductions to comparative literature, see Ulrich Weisstein, “Assessing the Assessors: An Anatomy of Comparative Literature Handbooks,” Sensus Communis: Contemporary Trends in Comparative Literature / Panorama de la situation actuelle en littérature comparée, ed. János Riesz, Peter Boerner, and Bernhardt Scholz (Tübingen: Narr, 1986) 97–113.


Weisstein, Ulrich. Comparative Literature and Literary Theory. Trans. William Riggan. Bloomington: Indiana UP, 1973. 339 pp. (Translation and partial revision of Einführung in die Vergleichende Literaturwissenschaft [Stuttgart: Kohlhammer, 1968], 256 pp.) PN874.W4 809.

———. Vergleichende Literaturwissenschaft: Erster Bericht, 1968–1977. Bern: Lang, 1981. 218 pp. Jahrbuch für Internationale Germanistik, Reihe C: Forschungsberichte 2. PN874.W4 430.5.

An introduction to the history and theory of comparative literature, with chapters on the definition of the discipline and its study of influence and imitation; reception and survival; epoch, period, generation, and movement; genre; thematology; and relations of literature to the other arts. Concluding the study are two appendixes (a history of comparative literature and an evaluation of the major bibliographies) and a selected bibliography (through June 1973). Indexed by persons and anonymous works. The supplement updates the chapters and selective bibliography and adds discussions of publications and projects of the Association Internationale de Littérature Comparée, new periodicals and Festschriften, and national images. The volumes remain a useful general introduction to the theory and methodology of comparative literature. Review: (German ed.) Richard Bjornson, Monatshefte 62.2 (1970): 186–88.

Covering much the same ground—but less authoritatively—are S. S. Prawer, Comparative Literary Studies: An Introduction (London: Duckworth, 1973; 180 pp.), and Susan Bassnett, Comparative Literature: A Critical Introduction (Oxford: Blackwell, 1993; 183 pp.).

See also

Barricelli and Gibaldi, Interrelations of Literature (U5955).