World literature as a dimension of Comparative Literature has been in existence as a “Gemeingut der Menschheit” (common property of mankind) since ancient civilization, emerging “überall und zu allen Zeiten in Hunderten und aber Hunderten von Menschen” [“everywhere and in all periods in hundreds and hundreds of people”, Johann Wolfgang Goethe to Johann Peter Eckermann, 31 January 1827]. But the German term Weltliteratur and the heightened awareness of literary exchanges and relations across national borders have their roots in the cosmopolitan aspirations of major literary figures as well as literary critics of the Age of Goethe.
Generally, scholars ascribe …
Hoffmeister, Gerhart. "Weltliteratur [World Literature]". The Literary Encyclopedia. First published 30 June 2008
[http://www.litencyc.com/php/stopics.php?rec=true&UID=5529, accessed 26 October 2016.]