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Western scholars have tended to read Heian literature through the prism of female experience, stressing the imbalance of power in courtship and looking for evidence that women hoped to move beyond the constraints of marriage politics. Paul Schalow’s original and challenging work inherits these concerns about the transcendence of love and carries them into a new realm of inquiry—the suffering of noblemen and the literary record of their hopes for transcendence through friendship. He traces this recurring theme, which he labels "courtly male friendship," in five important literary works ranging from the tenth-century Tale of Ise to the early eleventh-century Tale of Genji. Whether authored by men or women, the depictions of male friendship addressed in this work convey the differing perspectives of male and female authors profoundly shaped by their gender roles in the court aristocracy. Schalow’s analysis clarifies in particular how Heian literature articulates the nobleman’s wish to be known and appreciated fully by another man.
China's Quest for a Nobel Prize in Literature
In the 1980s China’s politicians, writers, and academics began to raise an increasingly urgent question: why had a Chinese writer never won a Nobel Prize for literature? Promoted to the level of official policy issue and national complex, Nobel anxiety generated articles, conferences, and official delegations to Sweden. Exiled writer Gao Xingjian’s win in 2000 failed to satisfactorily end the matter, and the controversy surrounding the Nobel committee’s choice has continued to simmer. Julia Lovell’s comprehensive study of China’s obsession spans the twentieth century and taps directly into the key themes of modern Chinese culture: national identity, international status, and the relationship between intellectuals and politics. The intellectual preoccupation with the Nobel literature prize expresses tensions inherent in China’s move toward a global culture after the collapse of the Confucian world-view at the start of the twentieth century, and particularly since China’s re-entry into the world economy in the post-Mao era. Attitudes toward the prize reveal the same contradictory mix of admiration, resentment, and anxiety that intellectuals and writers have long felt toward Western values as they struggled to shape a modern Chinese identity. In short, the Nobel complex reveals the pressure points in an intellectual community not entirely sure of itself. Making use of extensive original research, including interviews with leading contemporary Chinese authors and critics, The Politics of Cultural Capital is a comprehensive, up-to-date treatment of an issue that cuts to the heart of modern and contemporary Chinese thought and culture. It will be essential reading for scholars of modern Chinese literature and culture, globalization, post-colonialism, and comparative and world literature.
Cultural Borrowing and Japanese Crime Literature, 1868–1937
This is an impressive book, which casts the early history of Japanese detective fiction within the broader context of Japanese cultural and political modernity. Through his close analysis of three central figures—Kuroiwa Ruikô, Okamoto Kidô, and Edogawa Ranpo—Silver demonstrates the complex ways in which detective fiction in the late nineteenth and early twentieth century was used to reflect upon new ideas, represent the past, and reveal Japan's newly ‘modern’ society in grotesque and frightening ways. Lucidly argued and elegantly written, Purloined Letters will become essential reading for scholars of detective fiction, Japanese literature, and translation studies more generally. —Amanda Seaman, author of Bodies of Evidence: Women, Society, and Detective Fiction in 1990s Japan
"Mark Silver has written an elegant and original history of the early twentieth-century Japanese detective story, which had a proto-realistic tradition of its own quite apart from that of the canonical Meiji novels. We feel Japan’s anxieties about rising crime in an age when feudal and geographical limits on mobility had crumbled, its nostalgia for a magicalpast of wise judges and thief-catchers, and its fascination with criminals, some of them women, who were just as ingenious. Silver addresses big theoretical questions of how cultures react to each other while providing new readings of such seminal contributors to the crime fiction genre as Edogawa Ranpo. This eye-opening work not only redefines both Euro-American and Japanese crime genres in light of each other, but also delineates a complicated transition from a premodern and transnational East Asian detective story tradition to a modern genre in which the crimes and sleuthing seem more familiar and Westernized—until, under Silver’s skillful guidance, we get a closer look!"—Jeffrey C. Kinkley, author of Chinese Justice, the Fiction: Law and Literature in Modern China
This engaging study of the detective story’s arrival in Japan—and of the broader cross-cultural borrowing that accompanied it—argues for a reassessment of existing models of literary influence between "unequal" cultures. Because the detective story had no pre-existing native equivalent in Japan, the genre’s formulaic structure acted as a distinctive cultural marker, making plain the process of its incorporation into late nineteenth- and early twentieth-century Japanese letters. Mark Silver tells the story of Japan’s adoption of this new Western literary form at a time when the nation was also remaking itself in the image of the Western powers. His account calls into question conventional notions of cultural domination and resistance, demonstrating the variety of possible modes for cultural borrowing, the surprising vagaries of intercultural transfer, and the power of the local contexts in which "imitation" occurs.
Purloined Letters considers a fascinating range of primary texts populated by wise judges, faceless corpses, wily confidence women, desperate blackmailers, a fetishist who secrets himself for days inside a leather armchair, and a host of other memorable figures. The work begins by analyzing Tokugawa courtroom narratives and early Meiji biographies of female criminals (dokufu-mono, or "poison-woman stories"), which dominated popular crime writing in Japan before the detective story’s arrival. It then traces the mid-Meiji absorption of French, British, and American detective novels into Japanese literary culture through the quirky translations of muckraking journalist Kuroiwa Ruiko. Subsequent chapters take up a series of detective stories nostalgically set in the old city of Edo by Okamoto Kido (a Kabuki playwright inspired by Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes) and the erotic, grotesque, and macabre works of Edogawa Ranpo, whose pen-name punned on "Edgar Allan Poe."
Traces of a Late-Ming Hatchet and Chisel
Qian Qianyi's Reflections on Yellow Mountain is a close examination of the practice of travel writing in seventeenth-century China, presenting a new reading of the youji genre that combines meticulous research and an innovative theoretical position.
Literature, like food, is, in Terry Eagleton’s words, "endlessly interpretable," and food, like literature, "looks like an object but is actually a relationship." So how much do we, and should we, read into the way food is represented in literature? Reading Food explores this and other questions in an unusual and fascinating tour of twentieth-century Japanese literature. Tomoko Aoyama analyzes a wide range of diverse writings that focus on food, eating, and cooking and considers how factors such as industrialization, urbanization, nationalism, and gender construction have affected people’s relationships to food, nature, and culture, and to each other. The examples she offers are taken from novels (shosetsu) and other literary texts and include well known writers (such as Tanizaki Jun’ichiro, Hayashi Fumiko, Okamoto Kanoko, Kaiko Takeshi, and Yoshimoto Banana) as well as those who are less widely known (Murai Gensai, Nagatsuka Takashi, Sumii Sue, and Numa Shozo). Food is everywhere in Japanese literature, and early chapters illustrate historical changes and variations in the treatment of food and eating. Examples are drawn from Meiji literary diaries, children’s stories, peasant and proletarian literature, and women’s writing before and after World War II. The author then turns to the theme of cannibalism in serious and popular novels. Key issues include ethical questions about survival, colonization, and cultural identity. The quest for gastronomic gratification is a dominant theme in "gourmet novels." Like cannibalism, the gastronomic journey as a literary theme is deeply implicated with cultural identity. The final chapter deals specifically with contemporary novels by women, some of which celebrate the inclusiveness of eating (and writing), while others grapple with the fear of eating. Such dread or disgust can be seen as a warning against what the complacent "gourmet boom" of the 1980s and 1990s concealed: the dangers of a market economy, environmental destruction, and continuing gender biases. Reading Food in Modern Japanese Literature will tempt any reader with an interest in food, literature, and culture. Moreover, it provides appetizing hints for further savoring, digesting, and incorporating textual food.
A Historical Key to a Poetic Labyrinth
In this book, Huaichuan Mou takes a fresh look at the life, times, and work of Wen Tingyun, the great poet of the late Tang dynasty in China, whose reputation has been overshadowed by notoriety and misunderstanding for more than a thousand years. In probing the political intricacies of the major events of Wen’s life and the complex contexts in which these events took place, Mou presents a historical key to Wen’s artistic labyrinth, unraveling many of Wen’s poetic puzzles and rediscovering a historical past that vividly represents his unyielding pursuit of ideal government and true love. This reconstruction of the poet’s life results in a new understanding not only of his literary work but also of late Tang history as well. Translations and close readings of a number of poems and prose essays are included.
Redrawing French Empire in Comics by Mark McKinney investigates how comics have represented the colonization and liberation of Algeria and Indochina. It focuses on the conquest and colonization of Algeria (from 1830), the French war in Indochina (1946–1954), and the Algerian War (1954–1962). Imperialism and colonialism already featured prominently in nineteenth-century French-language comics and cartoons by Töpffer, Cham, and Petit. As society has evolved, so has the popular representation of those historical forces. French torture of Algerians during the Algerian War, once taboo, now features prominently in comics, especially since 2000, when debate on the subject was reignited in the media and the courts. The increasingly explicit and spectacular treatment in comics of the more violent and lurid aspects of colonial history and ideology is partly due to the post-1968 growth of an adult comics production and market. For example, the appearance of erotic and exotic, feminized images of Indochina in French comics in the 1980s indicated that colonial nostalgia for French Indochina had become fashionable in popular culture. Redrawing French Empire in Comics shows how contemporary cartoonists such as Alagbé, Baloup, Boudjellal, Ferrandez, and Sfar have staked out different, sometimes conflicting, positions on French colonial history.
Politics, Personality, and Literary Production in the Life of Nun Abutsu
Rewriting Medieval Japanese Women explores the world of thirteenth-century Japan through the life of a prolific noblewoman known as Nun Abutsu (1225–1283). Abutsu crossed gender and genre barriers by writing the first career guide for Japanese noblewomen, the first female-authored poetry treatise, and the first poetic travelogue by a woman—all despite the increasingly limited social mobility for women during the Kamakura era (1185–1336). Capitalizing on her literary talent and political prowess, Abutsu rose from middling origins and single-motherhood to a prestigious marriage and membership in an esteemed literary lineage.
Abutsu’s life is well documented in her own letters, diaries, and commentaries, as well as in critiques written by rivals, records of poetry events, and legal documents. Drawing on these and other literary and historiographical sources, including The Tale of Genji, author Christina Laffin demonstrates how medieval women responded to institutional changes that transformed their lives as court attendants, wives, and nuns. Despite increased professionalization of the arts, competition over sources of patronage, and rivaling claims to literary expertise, Abutsu proved her poetic capabilities through her work and often used patriarchal ideals of femininity to lay claim to political and literary authority.
Rewriting Medieval Japanese Women effectively challenges notions that literary salons in Japan were a phenomenon limited to the Heian period (794–1185) and that literary writing and scholarship were the domain of men during the Kamakura era. Its analysis of literary works within the context of women’s history makes clear the important role that medieval women and their cultural contributions continued to play in Japanese history.
India in Translation and Other Tales of Possession
Can the subaltern joke? Christi A. Merrill answers by invoking riddling, oral-based fictions from Hindi, Rajasthani, Sanskrit, and Urdu that dare to laugh at what traditions often keep hidden-whether spouse abuse, ethnic violence, or the uncertain legacies of a divinely wrought sex change. Herself a skilled translator, Merrill uses these examples to investigate the expectation that translated work should allow the non-English-speaking subaltern to speak directly to the English-speaking reader. She plays with the trope of speaking to argue against treating a translated text as property, as a singular material object to be carried across(as trans-latus implies.) She refigures translation as a performative telling in turn,from the Hindi word anuvad, to explain how a text might be multiply possessed. She thereby challenges the distinction between originaland derivative,fundamental to nationalist and literary discourse, humoring our melancholic fixation on what is lost. Instead, she offers strategies for playing along with the subversive wit found in translated texts. Sly jokes and spirited double entendres, she suggests, require equally spirited double hearings.The playful lessons offered by these narratives provide insight into the networks of transnational relations connecting us across a sea of differences. Generations of multilingual audiences in India have been navigating this Ocean of the Stream of Storiessince before the 11th century, arriving at a fluid sense of commonality across languages. Salman Rushdie is not the first to pose crucial questions of belonging by telling a version of this narrative: the work of non-English-language writers like Vijay Dan Detha, whose tales are at the core of this book, asks what responsibilities we have to make the rights and wrongs of these fictions come alive age after age.