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"Engagement: Authoring European Futures"

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationAuthors and the World
EditorsRebecca Braun, Tobias Boes, Emily Spiers
Place of PublicationOxford
PublisherOxford Univerity Press; Oxford
Number of pages15
ISBN (Print)9780198819653
PublishedSep 2020

Publication series

NameOxford 21st Century Handbooks
PublisherOxford University Press

King's Authors


The idea of literary ‘engagement’, first introduced to a wider public by Jean-Paul Sartre in the 1940s, is perhaps the most important twentieth-century contribution to our evolving understanding of authorship. The question of how authors should position themselves vis-à-vis the human conflicts of their day remains as pertinent as ever. In this chapter, Benedict Schofield analyses how two contemporary novelists—Robert Menasse and Ali Smith—have found distinctively twenty-first-century forms of literary engagement, transforming themselves into what Schofield calls ‘cultural statespeople’. The works of Menasse and Smith cement their creators’ demands that they be taken seriously as literary authors, rather than as celebrities or even generic public intellectuals. Yet, both are deeply cognizant of the extra-literary factors that contribute to their popular appeal and use these to agitate for the strengthening and transformation of the European Union.

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