36.1 | Sari Kivistö

Imagining Lost Literature—Some Preliminary Considerations on Literary Extinction

This paper examines how textual losses function as a creative space for reimagining the literary-historical past and promoting textual endurance. Research focused on book history has come up with new tools for studying destroyed books, but this article devises an alterna- tive approach that investigates how textual losses invite fictitious supplements and creative rewritings. By focusing on three modes of textual loss—poetic fragments, intentionally constructed gaps, and extinct genres—this paper demonstrates how authors such as Ezra Pound have creatively engaged with literary forms of lostness. The paper suggests that much more work can be done on conceiving silences, losses, gaps and deaths within the realm of literature.

Sari Kivistö is Professor of Comparative Literature at Tampere University, Finland. She has published extensively on Neo-Latin literature, the history and theory of satire, epistemic vices, and su!ering and antitheodicy in literature. She is currently leading a research project called “Literary extinction. Lost literary genres and imagining the past”.