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 this past year,
I decided in the summer of 2020 to follow the lead of Jules Verne’s
globe-spanning hero Phileas Fogg, in my case voyaging around the world not in
person but through eighty books.
During 16 weeks from May-August 2020, this website chronicled my travels
through classic and contemporary world literature, offering readers worldwide
the chance to look freshly at some much-loved works and to make new discoveries
in their company. Since then, I've revised the original blog postings, and have converted weeks into chapters. The book has now come out from Pelican Books in the UK and Penguin in the USA.
Each chapter's set of five works is associated with a city or region that they’ve embodied in memorable form. The book, like the 80 Books blog before it, highlights the way these works reflect or refract their world and the way they enter into the world in turn. I invite you to join me on the journey.
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 or editor of twenty-five books,
including What Is World Literature?, 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 in fifty countries 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, Georges Ngal’s
Giambattista Viko: Or the Rape of African
Discourse, will be published next year.