This reference volume attempts to summarize the life and work of a sampling from the host of writers who have contributed through the ages to the understanding and, in many cases, the enrichment of cultures other than their own. The Merriam-Webster dictionary definition of the word “multicultural” is “of, relating to, reflecting or adapted to diverse societies.” Today, with the continuing growth of travel and migration and the intercontinental exchange of language and ideas, the word has taken on new and diverse overtones. To an extent undreamed of even a generation ago, we have all come to be largely “multi-cultural” in our lives and outlook. The thrust of the word in contemporary life encompasses a variety of tags and slogans that run the gamut from nationalism to universalism, from identity to “Otherness.”
For the purposes of this volume, “multicultural authors” are those authors who lived, as children or adults, in a culture other than their own, and whose writings include works reflecting their experience of a different way of life, a different set of values, a different view of the world. Profiles of writers from antiquity to the watershed year of 1945 that closed World War II offer a selection of ancient, medieval, Renaissance, and modern authors, as well as a spectrum of linguistic, ethnic, and cultural diversities. Our choices were made with the aim of including as many names, eras, and nationalities as possible within the limitations of a single volume.
These original chapters focus specifically on the effects of multiculturalism and acculturation (or lack of acculturation) on the selected writers. The chapters, presented for easier reference in alphabetical rather than chronological or geographical order, generally include (1) an outline of the author's particular intercultural career and its repercussions on his or her works; (2) a discussion of multicultural themes in the works of the author; (3) a selective survey of criticism; and (4) a bibliography of and about the author, limited in most cases to those works that reflect a multicultural perspective. The volume concludes with