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Not at Home in Singaporean and Malaysian Literature
The literature of Malaysia and Singapore, the multicultural epicenter of Asia, offers a rich body of source material for appreciating the intellectual heritage of colonial and postcolonial Southeast Asia. Focusing on themes of home and belong, Eddie Tay illuminates many aspects of identity anxiety experienced in the region, and helps construct a dialogue between postcolonial theory and the Anglophone literatures of Singapore and Malaysia. A chronologically ordered selection of texts is examined, including Swettenham, Bird, Maugham, Burgess, and Thumboo. The genealogy of works includes travel writings and sketches as well as contemporary diasporic novels by Malaysian and Singapore-born authors based outside their countries of origin. The premise is that home is a physical space as well as a symbolic terrain invested with social, political and cultural meanings. As discussions of politics and history argument close readings of literary works, the book should appeal not only to scholars of literature, but also to scholars of Southeast Asian politics and history.
and Other Novels of Struggle
This collection introduces the work of Japan’s foremost Marxist writer, Kobayashi Takiji (1903–1933), to an English-speaking audience, providing access to a vibrant, dramatic, politically engaged side of Japanese literature that is seldom seen outside Japan. The volume presents a new translation of Takiji’s fiercely anticapitalist Kani kōsen—a classic that became a runaway bestseller in Japan in 2008, nearly eight decades after its 1929 publication. It also offers the first-ever translations of Yasuko and Life of a Party Member, two outstanding works that unforgettably explore both the costs and fulfillments of revolutionary activism for men and women. The book features a comprehensive introduction by Komori Yōichi, a prominent Takiji scholar and professor of Japanese literature at Tokyo University.
For South Asians, food regularly plays a role in how issues of race, class, gender, ethnicity, and national identity are imagined as well as how notions of belonging are affirmed or resisted. Culinary Fictions provides food for thought as it considers the metaphors literature, film, and TV shows use to describe Indians abroad. When an immigrant mother in Jhumpa Lahiri’s The Namesake combines Rice Krispies, Planters peanuts, onions, salt, lemon juice, and green chili peppers to create a dish similar to one found on Calcutta sidewalks, it evokes not only the character’s Americanization, but also her nostalgia for India.
Food, Anita Mannur writes, is a central part of the cultural imagination of diasporic populations, and Culinary Fictions maps how it figures in various expressive forms. Mannur examines the cultural production from the Anglo-American reaches of the South Asian diaspora. Using texts from novels—Chitra Divakaruni’s Mistress of Spices and Shani Mootoo’s Cereus Blooms at Night—and cookbooks such as Madhur Jaffrey’s Invitation to Indian Cooking and Padma Lakshmi’s Easy Exotic, she illustrates how national identities are consolidated in culinary terms.
Wŏnhyo (617-686) is the dominant figure in the history of Korean Buddhism and one of the two or three most influential thinkers in the Korean philosophical tradition more broadly. Koreans know Wŏnhyo in his various roles as Buddhist mystic, miracle worker, social iconoclast, religious proselytist, and cultural hero. Above all else, Wŏnhyo was an innovative thinker and prolific writer, whose works cover the gamut of Indian and Sinitic Buddhist materials. The some one hundred treatises and commentaries attributed to this prolific writer, twenty-three of which are extant today, find no rivals among his fellow Korean exegetes. Wŏnhyo was comfortable with all of the major theoretical paradigms prominent in Buddhism of his day and eventually came to champion a highly synthetic approach to the religion that has come to be called t'ong pulgyo, or the Buddhism of Total Interpenetration, an approach that left an indelible imprint on the subsequent course of Korean and East Asian Buddhism. Indeed, it is no exaggeration to say that it was Wŏnhyo who created the Korean tradition of Buddhism. His importance is not limited to the peninsula, however. His writings were widely read in China and Japan as well, and his influence on the overall development of East Asian Mahāyāna thought is significant, particularly in relation to the Huayan, Chan, and Pure Land schools. The five volumes in this series will offer full translations of all of Wonhyo’s extant works, with complete annotation, and extensive introductions framing Wŏnhyo’s insights and contributions in the broader context of East Asian Buddhism. In this first volume in the series, Cultivating Original Enlightenment, Robert E. Buswell Jr. translates Wŏnhyo’s longest and probably culminating work, the Exposition of the Vajrasamādhi-Sūtra (Kŭmgang sammaegyŏng non). Wŏnhyo here brings to bear all the tools acquired throughout a lifetime of scholarship and meditation to the explication of a scripture that has a startling, even unique, connection to the Korean Buddhist tradition. In his treatise, Wŏnhyo examines the crucial question of how enlightenment can be turned from a tantalizing prospect into a palpable reality that manifests itself in all activities. East Asian Buddhism is founded on the assurance that the prospect of enlightenment is something innate to the mind itself and inherently accessible to all living creatures. This doctrine of “original enlightenment,” along with its related teaching of the “womb (or embryo) of buddhahood,” is foundational to the Korean Buddhist tradition. Given, however, the delusion we persistently face in ourselves and the evil we see surrounding us every day, it is obvious that the fact of being enlightened does not mean that we have necessarily learned how to act enlightened. In Wŏnhyo’s presentation, the notion of original enlightenment is transformed from an abstract philosophical concept into a practical tool of meditative training. Wŏnhyo’s Exposition provides a ringing endorsement of the prospect that all human beings have to recover the enlightenment that is said to be innate in the mind and to make it a tangible force in all of our activities.
Cosmopolitanism and the Indian Novel in English
Interrogating current theories of cosmopolitanism, nationalism, and aesthetics in Postcolonial Studies, Decentering Rushdie offers a new perspective on the Indian novel in English. Since Salman Rushdie’s Midnight’s Children won the Booker Prize in 1981, its postmodern style and postnational politics have dominated discussions of postcolonial literature. As a result, the rich variety of narrative forms and perspectives on the nation that constitute the field have been obscured, if not erased altogether. Reading a range of novels published between the 1950s and 1990s, including works by Nayantara Sahgal, Kamala Markandaya, Anita Desai, and Arundhati Roy, Decentering Rushdie suggests an alternative understanding of the genre in postcolonial India. Pranav Jani documents the broad shift from nation-oriented to postnationalist perspectives following the watershed crisis of the Emergency of the 1970s. Recovering the “namak-halaal cosmopolitanism” of early novels—a cosmopolitanism that is “true to its salt”—Decentering Rushdie also explains the rise and critical celebration of postnational cosmopolitanism. Decentering Rushdie thus resituates contemporary literature within a nuanced history of Indian debates about cosmopolitanism and the national question. In the process, Jani articulates definitions of cosmopolitanism and nationalism that speak to the complex negotiation of language, culture, and representation in postcolonial South Asia.
The Singaporean/Malaysian Novel
The Different Voices: Singaporean/Malaysian Novel, focuses on the challenges that face a novelist in the literary representation of a multilingual environment. The early writers used strategies like vernacular transcription and mimetic translation. However, the close readings of twelve selected novels by non-European writers from 1980 to 2001 indicate the increasing use of strategies like lexical borrowings, code mixing, code switching and varieties of Singapore-Malayan English, instead. Puthucheary asserts in her book that the methods of language appropriation have a direct connection to how the writer conveys the multilingual nature of the Singapore-Malayan society through the speaking person while developing the central theme of the novel. The book maps out the verbal artistic representation of the speaking person and the correlation between speech and character in a multilingual environment.
Selected Poetry of Ouyang Jianghe
Ouyang Jianghe played a central role in the 1980s underground Sichuanese poetry scene that gave rise to the Chinese poetic avant-garde, and during that time he became known as one of the “Five Masters from Sichuan.” Since then he has emerged as one of China’s most prominent literary figures, authoring four books of poetry and essays and publishing numerous works of criticism on art, music, and literature. He is also a noted calligrapher. In 2010 he was awarded the Chinese Literature Media Award for poetry. He lives in Beijing and travels frequently to the U.S. and Germany. Doubled Shadows is his first poetry collection in English.
Environmental Crises and East Asian Literatures
East Asian literatures are famous for celebrating the beauties of nature and depicting people as intimately connected with the natural world. But in fact, because the region has a long history of transforming and exploiting nature, much of the fiction and poetry in the Chinese, Japanese, and Korean languages portrays people as damaging everything from small woodlands to the entire planet. These texts seldom talk about environmental crises straightforwardly. Instead, like much creative writing on degraded ecosystems, they highlight what Karen Laura Thornber calls ecoambiguity—the complex, contradictory interactions between people and the nonhuman environment. Ecoambiguity is the first book in any language to analyze Chinese, Japanese, Korean, and Taiwanese literary treatments of damaged ecosystems. Thornber closely examines East Asian creative portrayals of inconsistent human attitudes, behaviors, and information concerning the environment and takes up texts by East Asians who have been translated and celebrated around the world, including Gao Xingjian, Ishimure Michiko, Jiang Rong, and Ko Un, as well as fiction and poetry by authors little known even in their homelands. Ecoambiguity addresses such environmental crises as deforesting, damming, pollution, overpopulation, species eradication, climate change, and nuclear apocalypse. This book opens new portals of inquiry in both East Asian literatures and ecocriticism (literature and environment studies), as well as in comparative and world literature.
Literature from Japan's Mega-City, 1750-1850
During the eighteenth century, Edo (today’s Tokyo) became the world’s largest city, quickly surpassing London and Paris. Its rapidly expanding population and flourishing economy encouraged the development of a thriving popular culture. Innovative and ambitious young authors and artists soon began to look beyond the established categories of poetry, drama, and prose, banding together to invent completely new literary forms that focused on the fun and charm of Edo. Their writings were sometimes witty, wild, and bawdy, and other times sensitive, wise, and polished. Now some of these high spirited works, celebrating the rapid changes, extraordinary events, and scandalous news of the day, have been collected in an accessible volume highlighting the city life of Edo.
Edo’s urban consumers demanded visual presentations and performances in all genres. Novelties such as books with text and art on the same page were highly sought after, as were kabuki plays and the polychrome prints that often shared the same themes, characters, and even jokes. Popular interest in sex and entertainment focused attention on the theatre district and “pleasure quarters,” which became the chief backdrops for the literature and arts of the period. Gesaku, or “playful writing,” invented in the mid-eighteenth century, satirized the government and samurai behavior while parodying the classics. These entertaining new styles bred genres that appealed to the masses. Among the bestsellers were lengthy serialized heroic epics, revenge dramas, ghost and monster stories, romantic melodramas, and comedies that featured common folk.
An Edo Anthology offers distinctive and engaging examples of this broad range of genres and media. It includes both well-known masterpieces and unusual examples from the city’s counterculture, some popular with intellectuals, others with wider appeal. Some of the translations presented here are the first available in English and many are based on first editions. In bringing together these important and expertly translated Edo texts in a single volume, this collection will be warmly welcomed by students and interested readers of Japanese literature and popular culture.
104 illus., 5 in color
Romancing Languages, Cultures and Genres
Eileen Chang (1920–1995) is arguably the most perceptive writer in modern Chinese literature. She was one of the most popular writers in 1940s Shanghai, but her insistence on writing about individual human relationships and mundane matters rather than revolutionary and political movements meant that in mainland China, she was neglected until very recently. Outside the mainland, her life and writings never ceased to fascinate Chinese readers. There are hundreds of works about her in the Chinese language but very few in other languages. This is the first work in English to explore her earliest short stories as well as novels that were published posthumously. It discusses the translation of her stories for film and stage presentation, as well as nonliterary aspects of her life that are essential for a more comprehensive understanding of her writings, including her intense concern for privacy and enduring sensitivity to her public image. The thirteen essays examine the fidelity and betrayals that dominate her alter ego’s relationships with parents and lovers, informed by theories and methodologies from a range of disciplines including literary, historical, gender, and film studies. These relationships are frequently dramatized in plays and filmic translations of her work.