How Literatures Begin: A Global History

Edited by Joel B. Lande and Denis Feeney

A comparative history of the practices, technologies, institutions, and people that created distinct literary traditions around the world, from ancient to modern times.

Literature is such a familiar and widespread form of imaginative expression today that its existence can seem inevitable. But in fact very few languages ever developed the full-fledged literary cultures we take for granted. Challenging basic assumptions about literatures by uncovering both the distinct and common factors that led to their improbable invention, How Literatures Begin is a global, comparative history of literary origins that spans the ancient and modern world and stretches from Asia and Europe to Africa and the Americas.