Reconstructing History: An Exercise in World-Building

Kareem Ashraf Nabil


Still of young age and far from developed, world literature presents itself as an avenue for innovation for the upcoming generation of literary theorists and academics. Theorists including Edward Said, Franco Moretti, and David Damrosch have all followed Goethe in his inception of Weltliteratur by posing their respective views and modes of analysis. This essay is an attempt to pave way to help define how world literature attempts to answer its main question: "What is the World?". Using a text, Umberto Eco’s The Name of the Rose, a historical novel and postmodern text that has travelled and is deemed "worldly" by many, the concept of historical reconstruction through world building is presented. A short overview and critique of some of the underlying theory and ideas relevant on world literature is also presented. Through an overarching analysis of the chosen text and comparison to existing theory, it is argued that the creation, or "building", of the "world" in world literature is done through an open yet meticulous imagining in the form of a rigorous rehistoricization. It is this imagining, which is rebellious and, by definition, creative, that both shatters an existing canon and defines one anew. It is this imagining that binds microcosmic Man with the macrocosmic World in which he is situated. 


World Literature; Historical Reconstruction; Worldliness; Canonicity; Postmodernist

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Bortis, Heinrich. "An Essay in the Philosophy and Theory of World History" last modified January 22, 2018.

Said, Edward W. The World, the Text, and the Critic. Cambridge, Mass: Harvard University Press, 1983.

Eco, Umberto. The Name of the Rose. Melbourne: Penguin Random House, 2016.


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