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This article sketches the historical rise of monolingualism and its centrality to literary modernity since the Renaissance, while paying special attention to the incipient multilingualism in all literary texts. In suggesting the need to chart the fortunes of monolingualism, what it calls "the monolingual fallacy," in European and then North American literary criticism, it promotes the development of multilingual critical practices. It historicizes the national critical tradition, steeped in the romantic conflation of a literary language with a "natural language," and suggests we consider all national literatures as "minor." A reading of Goethe's "Lied und Gebilde" ("Song and Formation"), in conclusion, suggests how literary historians today must work at scales both smaller (short and local) and larger (longer and planetary) to hear literature's many voices in constant dialogue, even in purportedly national writers.