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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.
Daoism, Territorial Networks, and the History of a Ming Novel
Revealing the fundamental continuities between vernacular fiction and exorcist, martial rituals in the vernacular language, Meulenbeld argues that a specific type of Daoist exorcism helped shape vernacular novels in the late Ming dynasty (1368–1644). Focusing on the once famous novel Fengshen yanyi (“Canonization of the Gods”), the author maps out the general ritual structure and divine protagonists that it borrows from much older systems of Daoist exorcism.
By exploring how the novel reflects the specific concerns of communities associated with Fengshen yanyi and its ideology, Meulenbeld is able to reconstruct the cultural sphere in which Daoist exorcist rituals informed late imperial “novels.” He first looks at temple networks and their religious festivals, then shows that it is by means of dramatic practices like ritual, theatre, and temple processions that divine acts were embodied and brought to life.
Meulenbeld makes a convincing case for the need to debunk the retrospective reading of China through the modern, secular Western categories of “literature,” “society,” and “politics.” He shows that this disregard of religious dynamics has distorted our understanding of China and that “religion” cannot be conveniently isolated from scholarly analysis.
The Life and Writings of an Early 'Abbasid Poet
Di'bil b. 'Alī (765--860) was regarded by his contemporaries as one of the best satirists in the school of Arabic poets which flourished during the early 'Abbāsid age. Leon Zolondek has collected, translated, and annotated 229 fragments of Di'bil's verse and has assembled materials for a reconstruction of his long-lost yet widely quoted Book of the Poets. Arabic texts of the poems and of the citations of Book of the Poets are included.
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.
Writing Tusán in Peru
Tales from Medieval China
This collection of short stories, anecdotes, and poems was likely compiled during the 13th century. Tales of romantic love—including courtship, marriage, and illicit affairs—unify the collection and make it an essential primary source for literary and social history, since official Chinese history sources did not usually discuss family conflict or sexual matters. This volume, the first complete translation of The Drunken Man’s Talk (Xinbian zuiweng tanlu) in any language, includes an introduction that explores the literary significance of the work as well as annotations explaining the symbolism and allusions found in the stories.
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.