Books

A Literary Scholar Takes Us Around the World in Eight Books – Smithsonian

Summary

In his new book Around the World in 80 Books, David Damrosch builds an itinerary that circumnavigates the globe—and doesn’t require a passport to enjoy.
Alex Treadway/Getty Images

Books and travel have always gone hand in hand, but the current pandemic, in which people from around the world experienced mass lockdowns, made the need for escape through the written word even more crucial. 

In his new book Around the World…….

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In his new book Around the World in 80 Books, David Damrosch builds an itinerary that circumnavigates the globe—and doesn’t require a passport to enjoy.
Alex Treadway/Getty Images

Books and travel have always gone hand in hand, but the current pandemic, in which people from around the world experienced mass lockdowns, made the need for escape through the written word even more crucial. 

In his new book Around the World in 80 Books, author and literary scholar David Damrosch takes his readers on a global journey using some of the most transportive books ever published, from Marcel Proust’s In Search of Lost Time, set in high-society Paris, to Marjane Satrapi’s Persepolis, capturing life in Tehran during the Iranian Revolution. A recognizable force in the field of literature and a professor at Harvard, Damrosch weaves in anecdotes from his own life as a ravenous reader, starting from a very young age while browsing the dusty bookshop near his school bus stop, to his many years teaching. Together with excerpts pulled from each book, Damrosch builds an itinerary that circumnavigates the globe—and doesn’t require a passport to enjoy. His carefully curated compendium of must-read written works spans time periods and continents, and includes a diverse selection of voices. 
 

Around the World in 80 Books

A transporting and illuminating voyage around the globe, through classic and modern literary works that are in conversation with one another and with the world around them.

“As [the Roman lyric poet] Horace once wrote, ‘literature is both sweet and useful,’” Damrosch says. “And since he put ‘sweetness’ first, it seems to me that literature provides an exceptional outlook and different way to look at the world while being the most pleasurable way to do so.”  

Here are eight of the 80 books Damrosch highlights: 

Written in the early 11th century by Murasaki Shikibu, a Japanese poet-turned-novelist and lady-in-waiting, The Tale of Genji tells the story of Hikaru Genji, the fictional son of a Japanese emperor during the Heian period (794 to 1185) who finds himself unexpectedly removed from the line of succession. Often considered the world’s first novel, it wouldn’t be until many centuries later, in 1925, that the 54-chapter tome would receive an English translation by the scholar Arthur Waley. The massive work not only transports readers to aristocratic Japan, but to an age that’s far removed from modern times. “Murasaki gives us a new perspective on the present moment,” Damrosch says. “She’s a great master of this and challenges us to begin to understand what so many of her assumptions and expectations are, challenging us to read more carefully.”

Despite having lived her entire life in Maine, author and poet Sarah Orne Jewett opted to create a storyline for her 1896 novel, The Country of the Pointed Firs, built entirely around …….

Source: https://www.smithsonianmag.com/travel/literary-scholar-takes-us-around-world-in-eight-books-180979078/