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Literature > Asian Literature

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A Garden of One’s Own Cover

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A Garden of One’s Own

A Collection of Modern Chinese Essays, 1919–1949

Edited and translated by Tam King-fai

This authoritative collection contains writings by some thirty of the most significant Chinese writers of the period between 1919 and 1949. The three decades from which these pieces are drawn encompass most of the Republican period, a tumultuous era in Chinese history in which modernization and republicanism coexisted with classical culture. Thematically, these xiaopin wen, or modern Chinese essays, differ significantly from the more social and political fiction of the May Fourth movement. Their scope varies, from ruminations on broader existential issues to more personal contemplations on everyday life, often delving into issues of morality and interpersonal relations. Although described as “essays,” they are not restrained by the formal, expository connotations of this English term; rather, their tone is more intimate, reflective, and at times witty or tinged with melancholy.

Gender and Story in South India Cover

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Gender and Story in South India

Gender and Story in South India presents exciting ethnographic research by Indian women scholars on Hindu and Muslim women-centered oral narratives. The book is unique for its geographic and linguistic focus on South India, for its inclusion of urban and rural locales of narration, and for its exploration of shared Hindu and Muslim female space. Drawing on the worldviews of South Indian female narrators in both everyday and performative settings, the contributors lead readers away from customary and comfortable assumptions about gender distinctions in India to experience a more dialogical, poetically ordered moral universe that is sensitive to women’s material and spiritual lives.

Heroes of China's Great Leap Forward Cover

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Heroes of China's Great Leap Forward

Two Stories

edited by Richard King

Heroes of China’s Great Leap Forward presents contrasting narratives of the most ambitious and disastrous mass movement in modern Chinese history. The objective of the Great Leap, when it was launched in the late 1950s, was to catapult China into the ranks of the great military and industrial powers with no assistance from the outside world; it resulted in a famine that killed tens of millions of the nation’s peasants.

Li Zhun’s "A Brief Biography of Li Shuangshuang," written while the movement was underway, celebrates the Great Leap as it was supposed to be: a time of optimism, dynamism, and shared purpose. A spirited young peasant woman, freed from the restrictions of home life, launches a canteen and wins the recognition of authorities and the admiration of her husband. The story—and the film that followed it—made Li Shuangshuang the greatest fictional heroine of the Great Leap. In contrast, Zhang Yigong’s short novel The Story of the Criminal Li Tongzhong, written two decades later, was one of the first works published in China to suggest a much darker side to the Great Leap. A village official leads a raid on a state granary to feed starving peasants; he is later arrested and dies a criminal. Although Zhang stopped short of portraying the horrors of famine, his tone of moral outrage provides a rejoinder to the triumphalism of "Li Shuangshuang."

The stories are accompanied by an introduction to the Great Leap and portraits of the two writers, including their recollections of that traumatic time and the creation of their very different heroes.

Herself an Author Cover

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Herself an Author

Gender, Agency, and Writing in Late Imperial China

Grace S. Fong

Herself an Author addresses the critical question of how to approach the study of women’s writing. It explores various methods of engaging in a meaningful way with a rich corpus of poetry and prose written by women of the late Ming and Qing periods, much of it rediscovered by the author in rare book collections in China and the United States. The volume treats different genres of writing and includes translations of texts that are made available for the first time in English. Among the works considered are the life-long poetic record of Gan Lirou, the lyrical travel journal kept by Wang Fengxian, and the erotic poetry of the concubine Shen Cai. Taking the view that gentry women’s varied textual production was a form of cultural practice, Grace Fong examines women’s autobiographical poetry collections, travel writings, and critical discourse on the subject of women’s poetry, offering fresh insights on women’s intervention into the dominant male literary tradition. The wealth of texts translated and discussed here include fascinating documents written by concubines—women who occupied a subordinate position in the family and social system. Fong adopts the notion of agency as a theoretical focus to investigate forms of subjectivity and enactments of subject positions in the intersection between textual practice and social inscription. Her reading of the life and work of women writers reveals surprising instances and modes of self-empowerment within the gender constraints of Confucian orthodoxy. Fong argues that literate women in late imperial China used writing and reading to create literary and social communities, transcend temporal-spatial and social limitations, and represent themselves as the authors of their own life histories.

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Himalayan Voices

An Introduction to Modern Nepali Literature

Michael James Hutt

While the natural splendor of Nepal has been celebrated in many books, very little of the substantial body of Nepali literature has appeared in English translation. Himalayan Voices provides admirers of Nepal and lovers of literature with their first glimpse of the vibrant literary scene in Nepal today.

An introduction to the two most developed genres of modern Nepali literature—poetry and the short story—this work profiles eleven of Nepal's most distinguished poets and offers translations of more than eighty poems written from 1916 to 1986. Twenty of the most interesting and best-known examples of the Nepali short story are translated into English for the first time by Michael Hutt. All provide vivid descriptions of life in twentieth-century Nepal.

Although the days when Nepali poets were regularly jailed for their writings have passed, until 1990 the strictures of various laws governing public security and partisan political activity still required writers and publishers to exercise a certain caution. In spite of these conditions, poetry in Nepal remained the most vital and innovative genre, in which sentiments and opinions on contemporary social and political issues were frequently expressed.

While the Nepali short story adapted its present form only during the early 1930s, it has rapidly developed a surprisingly high degree of sophistication. These stories offer insights into the workings of Nepali society: into caste, agrarian relations, social change, the status of women, and so on. Such insights are more immediate than those offered by scholarly works and are conveyed by implication and assumption rather than analysis and exposition.

This book should appeal not only to admirers of Nepal, but to all readers with an interest in non-Western literatures. Himalayan Voices establishes for the first time the existence of a sophisticated literary tradition in Nepal and the eastern Himalaya.

History, Narrative, and Testimony in Amitav Ghosh's Fiction Cover

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History, Narrative, and Testimony in Amitav Ghosh's Fiction

Comprehensive overview of the work of Indian novelist Amitav Ghosh.

Holy Prayers in a Horse's Ear Cover

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Holy Prayers in a Horse's Ear

A Japanese American Memoir

Kathleen Tamagawa, Edited by Greg Robinson and Elena Tajima Creef

Originally published in 1932, Kathleen Tamagawa’s pioneering Asian American memoir is a sensitive and thoughtful look at the personal and social complexities of growing up racially mixed during the early twentieth century. Born in 1893 to an Irish American mother and a Japanese father and raised in Chicago and Japan, Tamagawa reflects on the difficulty she experienced fitting into either parent’s native culture.

            She describes how, in America, her every personal quirk and quality was seen as quintessentially Japanese and how she was met unpredictably with admiration or fear—perceived as a “Japanese doll” or “the yellow menace.” When her family later moved to Japan, she was viewed there as a “Yankee,” and remained an outsider in that country as well. As an adult she came back to the United States as an American diplomat’s wife, but had trouble feeling at home in any place.

            This edition, which also includes Tamagawa’s recently rediscovered short story, “A Fit in Japan,” and a critical introduction, will challenge readers to reconsider how complex ethnic identities are negotiated and how feelings of alienation limit human identification in any society. 

 

I Can Almost See The Clouds of Dust Cover

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I Can Almost See The Clouds of Dust

Selected Poetry of Yu Xiang

Translated by Fiona Sze-Lorrain

Yu Xiang comfortably inhabits the negative space between viewer and subject, artist and artwork, the lover and her beloved in this acrobatic, ekphrastic, meditatively-compelling collection. Fiona Sze-Lorrain’s crisp translation invites American readers to experience Yu Xiang’s poetic mastery half a world away from its formative origins in the Shandong province, bringing into focus the voice of one of China’s most celebrated and memorable female voices. “I have a lonely yet / stable life,” Yu admits at one point in the book. “This is my house. If / you happen to walk in, it’s certainly not / for my rambling notes.” Yu Xiang disarms her reader with exacting imagery and pathos in order to tell the aching, unavoidable truth of womanhood in these striking poems. —Dorianne Laux

Imperial Babel Cover

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Imperial Babel

Translation, Exoticism, and the Long Nineteenth Century

Padma Rangarajan

At the heart of every colonial encounter lies an act of translation. Once dismissed as a derivative process, the new cultural turn in translation studies has opened the field to dynamic considerations of the contexts that shape translations and that, in turn, reveal translation’s truer function as a locus of power. In Imperial Babel, Padma Rangarajan explores translation’s complex role in shaping literary and political relationships between India and Britain._x000B__x000B_Unlike other readings that cast colonial translation as primarily a tool for oppression, Rangarajan argues that translation changed both colonizer and colonized and undermined colonial hegemony as much as it abetted it. Imperial Babel explores the diverse political and cultural consequences of a variety of texts, from eighteenth-century oriental tales to mystic poetry of the fin de siècle and from translation proper to its ethnological, mythographic, and religious variants._x000B__x000B_Searching for translation’s trace enables a broader, more complex understanding of intellectual exchange in imperial culture as well as a more nuanced awareness of the dialectical relationship between colonial policy and nineteenth-century literature. Rangarajan argues that while bearing witness to the violence that underwrites translation in colonial spaces, we should also remain open to the irresolution of translation, its unfixed nature, and its ability to transform both languages in which it works._x000B_

The Ise Stories Cover

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The Ise Stories

Ise monogatari

translated and with commentary by Joshua S. Mostow and Royall Tyler

Ise monogatari is one of classical Japan’s most important texts. It influenced other literary court romances like The Tale of Genji and inspired artists, playwrights, and poets throughout Japanese history and to the present day.

In a series of 125 loosely connected episodes, the Ise tells the story of a famous lover, Captain Ariwara no Narihira (825–880), and his romantic encounters with women throughout Japan. Each episode centers on an exchange of love poems designed to demonstrate wit, sensitivity, and "courtliness."

Joshua Mostow and Royall Tyler present a fresh, contemporary translation of this classic work, together with a substantial commentary for each episode. The commentary explores how the text has been read in the past and identifies not only the point of each episode, but also the full range of historical interpretations, many of which shaped the use of the Ise in later literary and visual arts. The book includes reproductions from a version of the 1608 Saga-bon printed edition of the Ise, the volume that established Ise iconography for the entire Edo period (1600–1868).

52 illus.

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