What Is World Literature History?

World literature history is the study of literary works that are written by authors from different parts of the world. It encompasses works written in all languages and covers a vast range of genres, including poetry, drama, and fiction. The study of world literature history allows readers to gain a deeper understanding of cultures, beliefs, and values that exist in different parts of the world.

What Is World Literature?

World literature refers to literary works that have been translated into different languages and are read by people across the globe. These works are considered to be part of a collective global heritage that transcends national boundaries and cultural differences. They provide insights into the experiences, thoughts, and emotions of people from diverse backgrounds.

The concept of world literature can be traced back to ancient times when Greek writers such as Homer wrote about epic journeys and heroic deeds. Over time, literary works from other parts of the world were also translated into Greek and Latin, leading to an exchange of ideas between different cultures.

The History Of World Literature

The history of world literature can be divided into several periods based on cultural movements and significant events that influenced literary production. Some notable periods include:

Ancient Literature

Ancient literature includes works written by writers in ancient civilizations such as Greece, Rome, Egypt, China, India, and Mesopotamia. These works reflect the beliefs, values, and customs prevalent in these societies.

The Middle Ages

During the Middle Ages (5th-15th centuries), literary production was dominated by religious themes. Works such as Dante’s Divine Comedy (1308-1320) and Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales (1387-1400) provided insight into medieval society’s religious beliefs.

The Renaissance

The Renaissance (14th-17th centuries) saw a revival in classical learning and arts. Works such as Shakespeare’s plays and Cervantes’ Don Quixote (1605) reflected the humanist ideas that were prevalent during this time.

The Enlightenment

The Enlightenment (18th century) was characterized by a focus on reason, science, and individual freedom. Literary works such as Voltaire’s Candide (1759) and Goethe’s Faust (1808) reflected these ideas.

The 19th Century

The 19th century saw the rise of romanticism in literature. Works such as Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice (1813) and Victor Hugo’s Les Miserables (1862) explored themes of love, passion, and individualism.

The 20th Century

The 20th century was marked by significant political and social changes that influenced literary production. Works such as Gabriel Garcia Marquez’s One Hundred Years of Solitude (1967) and Chinua Achebe’s Things Fall Apart (1958) provided insights into the experiences of people from different parts of the world.

The Importance Of Studying World Literature History

Studying world literature history is essential because it helps readers gain a deeper understanding of different cultures, beliefs, and values. It allows readers to see how similar themes are explored across different time periods and societies.

Moreover, studying world literature history can help readers develop critical thinking skills by analyzing the cultural context in which literary works were produced. It can also help readers develop empathy by understanding the experiences of people who are different from them.


In conclusion, world literature history is an essential field of study that provides insights into the experiences, beliefs, and values of people from different parts of the world. By studying literary works from various cultures and time periods, readers can gain a deeper understanding of the commonalities that exist across different societies.