About the Project
As we shelter in place in these troubled times, or when we return home
after a socially distanced excursion out, we can use antidotes to the
closing in of the walls around us. Literature has always provided windows
into the wider world, and I’ve found myself more than ever drawn to
reading writers from around the world, people who have transformed
their own traumas and their society’s struggles into brilliantly achieved
works of art. With a whole series of travel plans cancelled for the coming
months, I’ve decided to follow the lead of Jules Verne’s globe-spanning
hero Phileas Fogg, now voyaging around the world not in person but
through eighty books.
This website chronicles my travels through classic and contemporary
world literature, offering you the chance to look freshly at some works
you’ve always loved and to make new discoveries in their company. In
keeping with Verne’s punctilious protagonist, I’ve organized my
eighty books on a strict schedule. For sixteen weeks from mid-May
through the end of August, I’ll be posting on a cluster of five books per
week, one per day every Monday through Friday.
Each week’s set of works will be associated with a place that they’ve
embodied in memorable form. The website will highlight the way these
works reflect or refract their world and the way they enter into the world
in turn, and it will also serve as a kind of ship’s log for the book that will
emerge at journey’s end. I invite you to join me on the way.
About the Author
David Damrosch is the chair of Harvard’s
Department of Comparative Literature and
the founder of Harvard’s Institute for World
Literature. He is the author of eight books,
including The Buried Book: The Loss and
Recovery of the Great Epic of Gilgamesh and
most recently Comparing the Literatures:
Literary Studies for a Global Age (2020).
He has given several hundred talks around
theworld, and his work has been translated
into Arabic, Chinese, Danish, Estonian, French,
German, Hungarian, Japanese, Persian, Polish,
Romanian, Spanish, Turkish, Tibetan, and
Vietnamese. His own translation of a
francophone Congolese novel, Mbwil Ngal’s
Giambattista Viko: Or the Rape of African
Discourse, will be published next year.