In 2001, the official year of the “life sciences” in germany, ottmar ette began pulling together ideas for what was to become the programmatic essay excerpted and translated here. Ette is known for different things in different places: in Spain and Hispanic America, he is renowned for his work on José Martí, Jorge Semprún, Mario Vargas Llosa, Gabriel García Márquez, and a host of other authors. In the francophone world, he is best known for his writings on Roland Barthes and, more recently, on Amin Maalouf, while his reputation in his native Germany rests on his voluminous work on Alexander von Humboldt and on the new literatures in German. That this polyglot professor of Romance literatures is, at heart and in practice, a comparatist goes almost without saying. He is also, perhaps as inevitably, a literary theorist and a cultural critic, whose work has attracted attention throughout Europe. In his 2004 book ÜberLebenswissen—a title that might be rendered in English both as “Knowledge for Survival” and as “About Life Knowledge”—Ette first began to reclaim for literary studies the dual concepts of Lebenswissen and Lebenswissenschaft, which I have translated provisionally as “knowledge for living” and “science for living” to set them off from the biotechnological discourses of the life sciences. While ÜberLebenswissen focuses on the disciplinary history and practices of the field of Romance literatures, its companion volume from 2005, ZwischenWeltenSchreiben: Literaturen ohne festen Wohnsitz (“Writing between Worlds: Literatures without a Fixed Abode”), extends Ette's inquiry to the global contexts of Shoah, Cuban, and Arab American literatures. Both volumes urge that literary studies “be opened up, made accessible and relevant, to the larger society. Doing so is, simply and plainly, a matter of survival” (ZwischenWeltenSchreiben 270).