Part two continues our series in trying to understand the history of where transnational literature first came from and its popular growth in modern times. Most literary minds see that the U.S. was the main driving force behind transnational literature at the start, but it was recognized as becoming global in 2010.



There was a push to accept that the world literature now existed, as everybody was now all part of the world, in ways that in earlier days we could not have imagined. A literary observer Paul Jay went further by stating that transnational literature should include works in English as it was the most forceful element to shape the genre.

His thoughts go ever further to suggest that transnationalism becomes a sort of methodology which requires a change of structure of where we write and the locations. Globalization is not just a Western phenomenon, it also has a long history in the East with examples of decolonization and colonization.

European Transnationalism

Large countries and states in Europe have always had a moving populace who very early attuned themselves to travel to smaller state and countries. Many writers crossed borders and, in their work, they displayed a sense of self-authentication in their subject matter. This is particularly striking in literature of postcolonial India, and transnationalism offered a different perspective on what was actually happening at the time.

Where the outward form of transnational literature has been dominant from British literature from the early 17th Century, in Germany, France and Spain the experiences were more self-critical in terms of their transnational literature, and mostly came from returning soldiers from wars far afield.

What is Literary Transnationalism?

There is no doubt that transnational literature has been a form since organized societies have been around, and that different groups have been able to share their cultural ideas with one another. This type of literature has been able to identify the moment when two geo-cultural entities engage with each other. In simple terms this literature is a reach of a nation, like a time capsule sent to the moon.

It does not matter if this writing conflicts or even breaks down relationships, its importance is to provide awareness. In fact, conflicts have been at the core of great transnational works, such as All Quiet on the Western Front, or the relationships that were studied in Wilfred Owen’s Strange Meeting. The fact that transnational literature can be laden with such fierce political awareness brings forth the power that this literature can have. It shows the injustice of small nations at the hands of larger ones and the deterioration of their culture as a consequence.

At the heart of transnational literature is a kind of machinery of production and the way it is received, which include all subject matters that pertain to linguistic and multicultural understanding. Part of this includes issues of translation.

In this modern world where borders have been relaxed and travel is so easy and affordable, we are now seeing transnational literature becoming stronger and stronger as a globally accepted literary form. There is no doubt that this is bringing worlds and societies together as they better understand cultural differences.