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Literature > Asian Literature

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Guru English Cover

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Guru English

South Asian Religion in a Cosmopolitan Language

Srinivas Aravamudan

Guru English is a bold reconceptualization of the scope and meaning of cosmopolitanism, examining the language of South Asian religiosity as it has flourished both inside and outside of its original context for the past two hundred years. The book surveys a specific set of religious vocabularies from South Asia that, Aravamudan argues, launches a different kind of cosmopolitanism into global use.

Using "Guru English" as a tagline for the globalizing idiom that has grown up around these religions, Aravamudan traces the diffusion and transformation of South Asian religious discourses as they shuttled between East and West through English-language use. The book demonstrates that cosmopolitanism is not just a secular Western "discourse that results from a disenchantment with religion, but something that can also be refashioned from South Asian religion when these materials are put into dialogue with contemporary social move-ments and literary texts. Aravamudan looks at "religious forms of neoclassicism, nationalism, Romanticism, postmodernism, and nuclear millenarianism, bringing together figures such as Swami Vivekananda, Sri Aurobindo, Mahatma Gandhi, and Deepak Chopra with Rudyard Kipling, James Joyce, Robert Oppenheimer, and Salman Rushdie.

Guru English analyzes writers and gurus, literary texts and religious movements, and the political uses of religion alongside the literary expressions of religious teachers, showing the cosmopolitan interconnections between the Indian subcontinent, the British Empire, and the American New Age.

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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.

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

Comprehensive overview of the work of Indian novelist Amitav Ghosh.

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A History of Japanese Literature, Volume 3

The High Middle Ages

Jin'ichi Konishi

In this third of five volumes tracing the history of Japanese literature through Mishima Yukio, Jin'ichi Konishi portrays the high medieval period. Here he continues to examine the influence of Chinese literature on Japanese writers, addressing in particular reactions to Sung ideas, Zen Buddhism, and the ideal of literary vocation, michi. This volume focuses on three areas in which Konishi has long made distinctive contributions: court poetry (waka), featuring twelfth-and thirteenth-century works, especially those of Fujiwara Teika (1162-1241); standard linked poetry (renga), from its inception to its full harvest in the work of Sogi (1421-1502); and the theatrical form noh, including the work of Zeami (ca. 1365-1443) and Komparu Zenchiku (1405-?). The author also considers prose narrative and popular song.

Originally published in 1991.

The Princeton Legacy Library uses the latest print-on-demand technology to again make available previously out-of-print books from the distinguished backlist of Princeton University Press. These paperback editions preserve the original texts of these important books while presenting them in durable paperback editions. The goal of the Princeton Legacy Library is to vastly increase access to the rich scholarly heritage found in the thousands of books published by Princeton University Press since its founding in 1905.

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Hitomaro and the Birth of Japanese Lyricism

Ian Hideo Levy

Professor Levy explores the ritual origins of Japanese verse, the impact of Chinese and Korean literary influence on the seventh-century Court, and the rhetorical deification of the imperial family as the condition under which Hitomaro would begin his career as a Court poet.

Originally published in 1984.

The Princeton Legacy Library uses the latest print-on-demand technology to again make available previously out-of-print books from the distinguished backlist of Princeton University Press. These paperback editions preserve the original texts of these important books while presenting them in durable paperback editions. The goal of the Princeton Legacy Library is to vastly increase access to the rich scholarly heritage found in the thousands of books published by Princeton University Press since its founding in 1905.

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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. 

 

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How to Read the Chinese Novel

David L. Rolston

Fiction criticism has a long and influential history in pre-modern China, where critics would read and reread certain novels with a concentration and fervor far exceeding that which most Western critics give to individual works. This volume, a source book for the study of traditional Chinese fiction criticism from the late sixteenth to the early twentieth centuries, presents translations of writings taken from the commentary editions of six of the most important novels of pre-modern China. These translations consist mainly of tu-fa, or "how-to-read" essays, which demonstrate sensitivity and depth of analysis both in the treatment of general problems concerning the reading of any work of fiction and in more focused discussions of particular compositional details in individual novels.

The translations were produced by pioneers in the study of this form of fiction criticism in the West: Shuen-fu Lin, Andrew H. Plaks, David T. Roy, John C. Y. Wang, and Anthony C. Yu. Four introductory essays by Andrew H. Plaks and the editor address the historical background for this type of criticism, its early development, its formal features, recurrent terminology, and major interpretive strategies. A goal of this volume is to aid in the rediscovery of this traditional Chinese poetics of fiction and help eliminate some of the distortions encountered in the past by the imposition of Western theories of fiction on Chinese novels.

Originally published in 1990.

The Princeton Legacy Library uses the latest print-on-demand technology to again make available previously out-of-print books from the distinguished backlist of Princeton University Press. These paperback editions preserve the original texts of these important books while presenting them in durable paperback editions. The goal of the Princeton Legacy Library is to vastly increase access to the rich scholarly heritage found in the thousands of books published by Princeton University Press since its founding in 1905.

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

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