AROUND THE WORLD IN 80 BOOKS: David Damrosch with Julia Pistell

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November 18, 2021 • 7:00 pm - 8:00 pm


Join author and scholar David Damrosch and moderator Julia Pistell for a transporting and illuminating voyage around the globe, through classic and modern literary works that are in conversation with one another and with the world around them.

Inspired by Jules Verne’s hero Phileas Fogg, David Damrosch, chair of Harvard University’s department of comparative literature and founder of Harvard’s Institute for World Literature, set out to counter a pandemic’s restrictions on travel by exploring 80 exceptional books from around the globe. Following a literary itinerary from London to Venice, Tehran and points beyond, and via authors from Woolf and Dante to Nobel Prize-winners Orhan Pamuk, Wole Soyinka, Mo Yan, and Olga Tokarczuk, he explores how these works have shaped our idea of the world, and the ways in which the world bleeds into literature.

To chart the expansive landscape of world literature today, Damrosch explores how writers live in two very different worlds: the world of their personal experience and the world of books that have enabled great writers to give shape and meaning to their lives. In his literary cartography, Damrosch includes compelling contemporary works as well as perennial classics, hard-bitten crime fiction as well as haunting works of fantasy, and the formative tales that introduce us as children to the world we’re entering. Taken together, these 80 titles offer us fresh perspective on enduring problems, from the social consequences of epidemics to the rising inequality that Thomas More designed Utopia to combat, as well as the patriarchal structures within and against which many of these books’ heroines have to struggle – from the work of Murasaki Shikibu a millennium ago to Margaret Atwood today.

Around the World in 80 Books is a global invitation to look beyond ourselves and our surroundings, and to see our world and its literature in new ways.

FREE virtual event, although donations are gratefully accepted. REGISTER HERE.
Signed copies of Around the World in 80 Books will be available for purchase through the Mark Twain Store; proceeds benefit The Mark Twain House & Museum. Books will be shipped after the event. We regret that we are NOT able to ship books outside the United States as it is cost-prohibitive to do so.
About the Author:
David Damrosch is the chair of Harvard’s Department of Comparative Literature and the founder of Harvard’s Institute for World Literature. He is the author of eight books, including The Buried Book: The Loss and Recovery of the Great Epic of Gilgamesh and most recently Comparing the Literatures: Literary Studies for a Global Age (2020). He has given several hundred talks around the world, and his work has been translated into Arabic, Chinese, Danish, Estonian, French, German, Hungarian, Japanese, Persian, Polish, Romanian, Spanish, Turkish, Tibetan, and Vietnamese. His own translation of a francophone Congolese novel, Mbwil Ngal’s Giambattista Viko: Or the Rape of African Discourse, will be published next year.
About the Moderator:

Julia Pistell is an award-winning writer, comedian, and public relations professional. She loves books. Beyond that, please check out her many ongoing projects. Need a writer, performer, or teacher? Julia is a freelance consultant. Services include copywriting for web, social media, development materials, brochures, press releases, direct mail, and in-store; teaching for writing, public speaking, and performance; and private coaching in any of these areas. Julia lives in Hartford, Connecticut, with her husband Greg Ludovici, their daughter Vega, and two rescued cats.

Programs at The Mark Twain House & Museum are made possible in part by support from the Connecticut Department of Economic and Community Development, Office of the Arts, and the Greater Hartford Arts Council’s United Arts Campaign and its Travelers Arts Impact Grant program, with major support from The Travelers Foundation. For more information call 860-247-0998 or visit


November 18, 2021
7:00 pm - 8:00 pm
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