Goethe did not coin the term Weltliteratur, as John Pizer notes in his introduction. This distinction appears to belong to Christoph Martin Wieland, who used it in undated notes to his translation of Horace’s letters. Because Wieland died fourteen years prior to Goethe’s first mention of the term in 1827, he would technically deserve credit for it.Another possible candidate is the lesser-known August Ludwig Schlözer, whose “Vorstellung der Universaltheorie” uses the term as early as 1772. Despite their advocates’ attempts to insert them into the history of Weltliteratur ,neither Wieland nor Schlözer plays a substantial role in the genealogy of this concept, Pizer argues, because Goethe’s engagement with this topic both set the tone of the discussion and continues to inform not only the question of “world literature” but also current interests in transnationalism and globalization.
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