This new book from Peter McDonald illustrates how literature challenges the way states conceptualise language, culture, and community. It provides a clear and readable reflection on the public value of literature, linking literary works to constitutions and policy making, and encourages readers to think about the ways in which ideas shape the world, whether by becoming agents of mass mobilization or by becoming embedded in policies, constitutions, or durable institutions. The book covers an extraordinary range: historical (1860-present), geographical (Europe, Asia, Africa), and linguistic (English, Afrikaans, Bengali, French, German, Hindi, Irish as well as a host of international languages), and focuses on major writers including T.S. Eliot, James Joyce, Rabindrânâth Tagore, Amit Chaudhuri, J. M. Coetzee, Salman Rushdie, Antjie Krog, Arvind Krishna Mehrotra, and Es'kia Mphahlele, and the contemporary Chinese artist Xu Bing.
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More information on Peter McDonald's research can be found on the Artefacts of Writing website; this ongoing work in progress supplements the published book and is an exercise in digital curation and also an online forum about thinking interculturally.