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Multilingualism and Creativity in World Literature


One of the most important features of world literature is ‘multilingualism’. Multilingualism in poetry and stories written in any language around the world may best be described as ‘languages in dialogue’. Languages travel, talk to each other and interact. This can take place across languages, and even within a language, which makes each language multilingual. Multilingualism is both the sign and site of creativity in world literature, as will be seen in examples from Arabic, Chinese and English stories. These stories represent creative multilingualism in two overlapping ways. They have travelled around the world through literary translation and cinematic adaptation, bringing their languages, world views, motifs and characters into dialogue with other cultures, languages and literatures. More importantly, they are born in translation and adaptation, in inter-cultural, inter-lingual and inter-literary dialogues.

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CC BY / CC BY-SA

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