When thinking about the relationships between modern Jewish writers and world literature, it may seem odd to begin with Jacob Glatstein, a seemingly marginalized Yiddish writer unknown to world audiences. However, if contemporary scholarship of both world literature and Jewish literatures is to move beyond the binaries of a center-margin model, the figure of Glatstein can offer a way to think through the contingencies of global literary production. In 1930s America, writers were increasingly compelled to confront the multiple world contexts inherent in the very act of writing, regardless of language or size of audience. As such, Glatstein could not help but be a world-writer, even if such a designation was self-imposed and uncertain. Through his poetry, fiction, and criticism of the period, Glatstein rejected the expected routes to world literature and considered translation a problem, a marker of a gap between a personal language of experience and a perpetually deferred world language. However, in facing the problem of world literature for Jewish writing, Glatstein did not retreat to a politics of marginality or compromise. Instead, Glatstein's reaction was both utopian and reclusive, proposing a form of writing that encountered the world while simultaneously fleeing from it.

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