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Embodying Human Rights in World Literature
Over the past fifty years, debates about human rights have assumed an increasingly prominent place in postcolonial literature and theory. Writers from Salman Rushdie to Nawal El Saadawi have used the novel to explore both the possibilities and challenges of enacting and protecting human rights, particularly in the Global South. In Fictions of Dignity, Elizabeth S. Anker shows how the dual enabling fictions of human dignity and bodily integrity contribute to an anxiety about the body that helps to explain many of the contemporary and historical failures of human rights, revealing why and how lives are excluded from human rights protections along the lines of race, gender, class, disability, and species membership. In the process, Anker examines the vital work performed by a particular kind of narrative imagination in fostering respect for human rights. Drawing on phenomenology, Anker suggests how an embodied politics of reading might restore a vital fleshiness to the overly abstract, decorporealized subject of liberal rights.
Each of the novels Anker examines approaches human rights in terms of limits and paradoxes. Rushdie's Midnight's Children addresses the obstacles to incorporating rights into a formerly colonized nation's legal culture. El Saadawi's Woman at Point Zero takes up controversies over women's freedoms in Islamic society. In Disgrace, J. M. Coetzee considers the disappointments of post-apartheid reconciliation in South Africa. And in The God of Small Things, Arundhati Roy confronts an array of human rights abuses widespread in contemporary India. Each of these literary case studies further demonstrates the relevance of embodiment to both comprehending and redressing the failures of human rights, even while those narratives refuse simplistic ideals or solutions.
Palimpsests of Nation and Diaspora
Chinese and English Bilingual Version
Flash Cards is a primer of modern Chinese life—constructing a complex philosophical vision from swatches of daily events and observations. As Yu Jian has written about his own work: "It is possible to see eternity—to see everything—in a teacup or a candy wrapper. Everything in the world is poetry." The JINTIAN [今天] series of contemporary literature features new and innovative writing from mainland China and abroad. Titles in the series are edited by Bei Dao, Lydia H. Liu, and Christopher Mattison. A collaborative venture between Zephyr Press, the Jintian Literary Foundation, and The Chinese University Press, each bilingual title highlights the ever-changing literary culture of China while simultaneously expanding the English language with a wave of new voices in translation.
Postcolonialism, Translation, and the Vernacular
In Flesh and Fish Blood Subramanian Shankar breaks new ground in postcolonial studies by exploring the rich potential of vernacular literary expressions. Shankar pushes beyond the postcolonial Anglophone canon and works with Indian literature and film in English, Tamil, and Hindi to present one of the first extended explorations of representations of caste, including a critical consideration of Tamil Dalit (so-called untouchable) literature. Shankar shows how these vernacular materials are often unexpectedly politically progressive and feminist, and provides insight on these oft-overlooked—but nonetheless sophisticated—South Asian cultural spaces. With its calls for renewed attention to translation issues and comparative methods in uncovering disregarded aspects of postcolonial societies, and provocative remarks on humanism and cosmopolitanism, Flesh and Fish Blood opens up new horizons of theoretical possibility for postcolonial studies and cultural analysis.
In an “other world” composed of language—it could be a fathomless Martian well, a labyrinthine hotel or forest—a narrative unfolds, and with it the experiences, memories, and dreams that constitute reality for Haruki Murakami’s characters and readers alike. Memories and dreams in turn conjure their magical counterparts—people without names or pasts, fantastic animals, half-animals, and talking machines that traverse the dark psychic underworld of this writer’s extraordinary fiction.
Fervently acclaimed worldwide, Murakami’s wildly imaginative work in many ways remains a mystery, its worlds within worlds uncharted territory. Finally in this book readers will find a map to the strange realm that grounds virtually every aspect of Murakami’s writing. A journey through the enigmatic and baffling innermost mind, a metaphysical dimension where Murakami’s most bizarre scenes and characters lurk, The Forbidden Worlds of Haruki Murakami exposes the psychological and mythological underpinnings of this other world. Matthew Carl Strecher shows how these considerations color Murakami’s depictions of the individual and collective soul, which constantly shift between the tangible and intangible but in this literary landscape are undeniably real.
Through these otherworldly depths The Forbidden Worlds of Haruki Murakami also charts the writer’s vivid “inner world,” whether unconscious or underworld (what some Japanese critics call achiragawa, or “over there”), and its connectivity to language. Strecher covers all of Murakami’s work—including his efforts as a literary journalist—and concludes with the first full-length close reading of the writer’s newest novel, Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage.
Contemporary Japanese Fairy-Tale Adaptations in Conversation with the West
As in the United States, fairy-tale characters, motifs, and patterns (many from the Western canon) have pervaded recent Japanese culture. Like their Western counterparts, these contemporary adaptations tend to have a more female-oriented perspective than traditional tales and feature female characters with independent spirits.In From Dog Bridegroom to Wolf Girl: Contemporary Japanese Fairy-Tale Adaptations in Conversation with the West, Mayako Murai examines the uses of fairy tales in the works of Japanese women writers and artists since the 1990s in the light of Euro-American feminist fairy-tale re-creation and scholarship.
After giving a sketch of the history of the reception of European fairy tales in Japan since the late nineteenth century, Murai outlines the development of fairy-tale retellings and criticism in Japan since the 1970s. Chapters that follow examine the uses of fairy-tale intertexts in the works of four contemporary writers and artists that resist and disrupt the dominant fairy-tale discourses in both Japan and the West. Murai considers Tawada Yoko's reworking of the animal bride and bridegroom tale, Ogawa Yoko's feminist treatment of the Bluebeard story, Yanagi Miwa's visual restaging of familiar fairy-tale scenes, and Konoike Tomoko's visual representations of the motif of the girl's encounter with the wolf in the woods in different media and contexts. Forty illustrations round out Murai's criticism, showing how fairy tales have helped artists reconfigure oppositions between male and female, human and animal, and culture and nature.
From Dog Bridegroom to Wolf Girl invites readers to trace the threads of the fairy-tale web with eyes that are both transcultural and culturally sensitive in order to unravel the intricate ways in which different traditions intersect and clash in today's globalising world. Fairy-tale scholars and readers interested in issues of literary and artistic adaptation will enjoy this volume.
Tales of Wonder from Early Medieval China
Between 300 and 600 CE, Chinese writers compiled thousands of accounts of the strange and the extraordinary. Some described weird spirits, customs, and flora and fauna in distant lands. Some depicted individuals of unusual spiritual or moral achievement. But most told of ordinary people's encounters with ghosts, demons, or gods; sojourns in the land of the dead; eerily significant dreams; and uncannily accurate premonitions. The selection of such stories presented here provides an alluring introduction to early medieval Chinese storytelling and opens a doorway to the enchanted world of thought, culture, and religious belief of that era. Known as zhiguai, or "accounts of anomalies," they convey a great deal about how people saw the cosmos and their place in it. The tales were circulated because they were entertaining but also because their compilers meant to document the mysterious workings of spirits, the wonders of exotic places, and the nature of the afterlife. A collection of more than two hundred tales, A Garden of Marvels offers an authoritative yet accessible introduction to zhiguai writings, particularly those never before translated or adequately researched. This volume will likely find its way to bedside tables as well as into classrooms and libraries, just as collections of zhiguai did in early medieval times.
A Collection of Modern Chinese Essays, 1919–1949
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.
Studies on the Leftist Literary Movement
As one of the few foundational texts to provide a critical overview of the aesthetics and politics of the leftist literary movement in China, The Gate of Darkness was previously published by the University of Washington Press in 1968 to great critical acclaim. Posthumously edited by the author’s brother Professor C. T. Hsia, this book critiques the works of leftist Chinese writers including Lu Hsün, Chiang Kuang-tz’u, and the “Five Martyrs.” As one of the few foundational texts to provide a critical overview of the aesthetics and politics of China’s leftist literary movement, The Gate of Darkness examines the conflicting dilemmas between leftist authors’ own ideals and the strict ideological frameworks imposed by the propaganda policies of the Chinese Communist Party in the early twentieth century. Numerous reviews appearing in the leading East Asian studies journals have acknowledged the historical importance of the book which has few comparisons. The cultural critic Leo Ou-fan Lee believes that this book gives one of the most significant scholarly analyses of Lu Xun’s work towards the end of his life, revealing the “darkness” that pervaded his later works such as “Wild Grass.” He calls Tsi-an Hsia “a creative and compassionate scholar” who has opened Lu Hsün’s inner “gate of darkness” to unveil “a fascinating world of demons and ghosts as dramatized in village operas and popular superstitions.”