Djelal Kadir, an eminent professor of comparative literature who has been active on several fronts in the effort to establish world literature as a discipline, offers in this book a kind of manifesto for philology in the twenty-first century. The volume is structured as a series of essays on individual authors from around the globe and across history. Each example has been chosen to articulate a pattern of heroic scholarship intended as a guide for comparatists in the currently beleaguered state of the university.

For the most part, the exemplary figures Kadir chooses to flesh out his metaphor of memos from the past are exiles and martyrs who were persecuted by the state or church. He begins with Erich Auerbach, whose Mimesis serves as a model for this whole volume, each chapter of which is a particular illustration of the recurring waves of resistance to critical humanism. Examples include the...

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