"Comparative literature," Earl Miner writes, "clearly involves something more than comparing two great German poets, and something different from a Chinese studying French literature or a Russian studying Italian literature." But what would a true intercultural poetics be? This work proposes various ways to "study something other than what are, all things considered, the short and simple annals of one cultural parish at one historic moment." The first developed account of theories of literature from an intercultural standpoint, the book shows that an "originative" or "foundational" poetics develops in cultures with explicit poetics when critics define the nature and conditions of literature in terms of the then most esteemed genredrama, lyric, or narrative. Earl Miner demonstrates that these definitions and inferences from them constitute useful bases for comparative poetics.