Around the World in 80 Books: A Literary Journey (Pelican Books)

by David Damrosch

Hardcover, 2021



Call number



Pelican (2021), Edition: 01, 496 pages


"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. Inspired by Jules Verne's hero Phileas Fogg, David Damrosch, chair of Harvard University's department of comparative literature and founder of Harvard's Institute for World Literature, set out to counter a pandemic's restrictions on travel by exploring eighty exceptional books from around the globe. Following a literary itinerary from London to Venice, Tehran and points beyond, and via authors from Woolf and Dante to Nobel Prize-winners Orhan Pamuk, Wole Soyinka, Mo Yan, and Olga Tokarczuk, he explores how these works have shaped our idea of the world, and the ways in which the world bleeds into literature. To chart the expansive landscape of world literature today, Damrosch explores how writers live in two very different worlds: the world of their personal experience and the world of books that have enabled great writers to give shape and meaning to their lives. In his literary cartography, Damrosch includes compelling contemporary works as well as perennial classics, hard-bitten crime fiction as well as haunting works of fantasy, and the formative tales that introduce us as children to the world we're entering. Taken together, these eighty titles offer us fresh perspective on enduring problems, from the social consequences of epidemics to the rising inequality that Thomas More designed Utopia to combat, as well as the patriarchal structures within and against which many of these books' heroines have to struggle -- from the work of Murasaki Shikibu a millennium ago to Margaret Atwood today. Around the World in 80 Books is a global invitation to look beyond ourselves and our surroundings, and to see our world and its literature in new ways." --… (more)

User reviews

LibraryThing member TooLittleReading
Disclaimer: I received a copy of this ARC from NetGalley. No compensation was received other than the chance to read this book.

This work is a series of essays regarding literature from various places around the globe. If you were looking for something more in the vein of Nancy Pearl's Book Lust
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series, this isn't it. The series of essays and critiques does give a reader a sense of why the books, and where their stories are located, have such historical and literary importance. As a scholarly work (the author has been a literature professor), this is a well-written work. For a more casual reader, they may have more trouble getting into it.

Recommended for readers who enjoy a more scholarly tone on writing, and those who may be in the literary field themselves.
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LibraryThing member jetangen4571
Not only for the limitations of a pandemic but also for the limitations of finances, work restrictions, languages, practicality (family), or even disabilities of any kind, this work takes us around the globe and time through the world of books by mimicking Around The World In 80 Days by Jules
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Verne. Each book and author are studied in place with many different perspectives and interesting detail. I enjoyed reading segments several times a week.
I requested and received a free e-book copy from PENGUIN GROUP/The Penguin Press via NetGalley. Thank you!
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LibraryThing member Moshepit20
Books about books re always usually interesting. I enjoyed the backstories bout how many of these books got their start, which isn't often the story you get to hear.
LibraryThing member m.belljackson
Comprehensive trip around the World of Books loosely following Jules Verne is enlivened by comparative commentary.

London: way less egotistically boring Dalloway and more Doyle! "A Study in Scarlet" on Gutenberg...

Paris - Cruel Lost Time with memory of Proust and his rats.

Krakow - Never more
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Inspired to read [Bleak House] and "Axolotl."

Books I wish I'd never read: Heart of Darkness and In Cold Blood and Silence of the Lambs...

Israel - recently finished Old Testament, midway through The New

Palestine - listened to Mahmoud Darwish on Youtube and am searching for print copy of "Tariq"

Tehran-Shiraz - Find more Agha Shahadal "Call Me Ishmael tonight"

Tagore - re-read FIREFLIES

Salman Rushdie - just finished Joseph Anton - will find Midnight Children

Tokyo - So the great Basho leaves the child to die and Mishima gives another horror story while Merrill leaves dying Paul

Brazil - sadness of Thomas More

(Future editions would be enriched with larger photos.)

Bar Harbor - Charlotte's Web is way superior to Stuart Little

NYC - in place of Bellow, give slightly out of state: Faulkner Intruder in the Dust,
To Kill a Mockingbird, and Melville, no?
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Original language


Physical description

496 p.; 8.74 inches


0241501024 / 9780241501023
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