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The Modernity of Sanskrit Cover

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The Modernity of Sanskrit

Simona Sawhney

Sanskrit texts have usually been discussed either within the frames of anthropology and religious studies or with a veneration that has substituted for analysis. Going beyond such approaches, Simona Sawhney argues that only a literary approach that resists the closure of interpretation can reveal the fragility, ambivalence, and tension that mark the canonical texts. Today we witness, Sawhney contends, the near-total appropriation of Sanskrit literature by Hindu nationalism. The Modernity of Sanskrit challenges this appropriation by exploring the complex work of Rabindranath Tagore, M. K. Gandhi, and Mohan Rakesh. Sawhney proposes that Indian nationalist writings about classic Sanskrit became a charged site for postcolonial reflections on politics and art in India. Sawhney claims that although new readings of Sanskrit literature played a decisive role in the intellectual conception of modernity in India, the space for such readings has steadily shrunk in contemporary times, leading to a stark diminishment of both the political and the literary lives of the texts.

The Mozi Cover

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The Mozi

A Complete Translation

Ian Johnston

The Mozi is one of the small number of key texts surviving from the first flowering of Chinese philosophy during the Warring States period (403–221 BC). In structure, the Mozi comprises five distinct parts. Part I, the Epitomes, contains seven short essays on elements of Mohist doctrine. Part II, the "Core Doctrines," contains twenty-four chapters: twenty-three from the presumed thirty original chapters, arranged as ten triads, which set out the ten central doctrines of Mo Zi's ethical, social and political philosophy, and one of the two presumed chapters articulating Mo Zi's opposition to Confucianism. Part III, on "dialectics," contains six chapters on logic, language, disputation, ethics, science and other matters, attributed to the Later Mohists and written, in part at least, in defence of the original Mohist doctrines. Part IV, the Dialogues, contains five chapters made up of lively conversations, edifying anecdotes and gnomic utterances, a form more characteristic of the philosophical writing of the time. Part V, on the defence of a city, contains eleven chapters detailing the principles and practices of defensive warfare, a subject on which Master Mo was acknowledged as the leading authority of the time. The Mozi is, then, a rich and varied work, and yet it has been sadly neglected, both in China and the West. This is the first English translation of the complete work and the first bilingual version in any European language.

Mulan's Legend and Legacy in China and the United States Cover

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Mulan's Legend and Legacy in China and the United States

Mulan, the warrior maiden who performed heroic deeds in battle while dressed as a male soldier, has had many incarnations from her first appearance as a heroine in an ancient Chinese folk ballad. Mulan’s story was retold for centuries, extolling the filial virtue of the young woman who placed her father's honor and well-being above her own. With the publication of Maxine Hong Kingston’s The Woman Warrior in the late 1970s, Mulan first became familiar to American audiences who were fascinated with the extraordinary Asian American character. Mulan’s story was recast yet again in the popular 1998 animated Disney film and its sequel.

In Mulan’s Legend and Legacy in China and the United States, Lan Dong traces the development of this popular icon and asks, "Who is the real Mulan?" and "What does authenticity mean for the critic looking at this story?" Dong charts this character’s literary voyage across historical and geographical borders, discussing the narratives and images of Mulan over a long time span—from premodern China to the contemporary United States to Mulan’s counter-migration back to her homeland.

As Dong shows, Mulan has been reinvented repeatedly in both China and the United States so that her character represents different agendas in each retelling—especially after she reached the western hemisphere. The dutiful and loyal daughter, the fierce, pregnant warrior, and the feisty teenaged heroine—each is Mulan representing an idea about female virtue at a particular time and place.

Murder Most Modern Cover

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Murder Most Modern

Detective Fiction and Japanese Culture

Sari Kawana

The quintessential international genre, detective fiction often works under the guise of popular entertainment to expose its extensive readership to complex moral questions and timely ethical dilemmas. The first book-length study of interwar Japanese detective fiction, Murder Most Modern considers the important role of detective fiction in defining the country’s emergence as a modern nation-state.


Kawana explores the interactions between the popular genre and broader discourses of modernity, nation, and ethics that circulated at this pivotal moment in Japanese history. The author contrasts Japanese works by Edogawa Ranpo, Unno Juza, Oguri Mushitaro, and others with English-language works by Edgar Allan Poe, Dashiell Hammett, and Agatha Christie to show how Japanese writers of detective fiction used the genre to disseminate their ideas on some of the most startling aspects of modern life: the growth of urbanization, the protection and violation of privacy, the criminalization of abnormal sexuality, the dehumanization of scientific research, and the horrors of total war.


Kawana’s comparative approach reveals how Japanese authors of the genre emphasized the vital social issues that captured the attention of thrill-seeking readers-while eluding the eyes of government censors.


Sari Kawana is assistant professor of Japanese at the University of Massachusetts, Boston.

Nagai Kafu's Occidentalism Cover

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Nagai Kafu's Occidentalism

Defining the Japanese Self

Describes how writer Nagai Kafuµ (1879–1959) used his experience of the West to reconcile modernization and Japanese identity. Nagai Kafuµ (1879–1959) spent more time abroad than any other writer of his generation, firing the Japanese imagination with his visions of America and France. Applying the theoretical framework of Occidentalism to Japanese literature, Rachael Hutchinson explores Kafuµ’s construction of the Western Other, an integral part of his critique of Meiji civilization. Through contrast with the Western Other, Kafuµ was able to solve the dilemma that so plagued Japanese intellectuals—how to modernize and yet retain an authentic Japanese identity in the modern world. Kafuµ’s flexible positioning of imagined spaces like the “West” and the “Orient” ultimately led him to a definition of the Japanese Self. Hutchinson analyzes the wide range of Kafuµ’s work, particularly those novels and stories reflecting Kafuµ’s time in the West and the return to Japan, most largely unknown to Western readers and a number unavailable in English, along with his better-known depictions of Edo’s demimonde. Kafuµ’s place in Japan’s intellectual history and his influence on other writers are also discussed.

Naipaul's Strangers Cover

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Naipaul's Strangers

Dagmar Barnouw

From his reporting on Islamic true believers to his descriptions of the postcolonial world, V. S. Naipaul has been a controversial figure in contemporary letters. Winner of the Nobel Prize, Naipaul has traveled throughout the world, looking at its varied cultures and seeking out others' stories, recording and transforming them. His engagement with postcolonial cultures informs his novels, such as Guerrillas and A Bend in the River. However, it is his documentaries (such as Among the Believers and Beyond Belief) and his works that combine actual and fictional histories and memories (Finding the Center, The Enigma of Arrival, and A Way in the World) that best exhibit a growing awareness of the complexities of cultural difference -- and the incompleteness and uncertainty of understanding "strangers." In this book, Dagmar Barnouw explores the sophisticated strategies and experimentations that Naipaul employs in his cultural critique and in his enterprise of learning about and documenting the enduring strangeness of this world.

Nakagami, Japan Cover

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Nakagami, Japan

Buraku and the Writing of Ethnicity

Anne McKnight

How do you write yourself into a literature that doesn’t know you exist? This was the conundrum confronted by Nakagami Kenji (1946–1992), who counted himself among the buraku-min, Japan’s largest minority. His answer brought the histories and rhetorical traditions of buraku writing into the high culture of Japanese literature for the first time and helped establish him as the most canonical writer born in postwar Japan.

In Nakagami, Japan, Anne McKnight shows how the writer’s exploration of buraku led to a unique blend of fiction and ethnography—which amounted to nothing less than a reimagining of modern Japanese literature. McKnight develops a parallax view of Nakagami’s achievement, allowing us to see him much as he saw himself, as a writer whose accomplishments traversed both buraku literary arts and high literary culture in Japan.

As she considers the ways in which Nakagami and other twentieth-century writers used ethnography to shape Japanese literature, McKnight reveals how ideas about language also imagined a transfigured relation to mainstream culture and politics. Her analysis of the resulting “rhetorical activism” lays bare Nakagami’s unique blending of literature and ethnography within the context of twentieth-century ideas about race, ethnicity, and citizenship—in Japan, but also on an international scale.

The New Asian City Cover

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The New Asian City

Three-Dimensional Fictions of Space and Urban Form

Jini Kim Watson

Under Jini Kim Watson’s scrutiny, the Asian Tiger metropolises of Seoul, Taipei, and Singapore reveal a surprising residue of the colonial environment. Drawing on a wide array of literary, filmic, and political works, and juxtaposing close readings of the built environment, Watson demonstrates how processes of migration and construction in the hypergrowth urbanscapes of the Pacific Rim crystallize the psychic and political dramas of their colonized past and globalized present.

Examining how newly constructed spaces—including expressways, high-rises, factory zones, department stores, and government buildings—become figured within fictional and political texts uncovers how massive transformations of citizenries and cities were rationalized, perceived, and fictionalized. Watson shows how literature, film, and poetry have described and challenged contemporary Asian metropolises, especially around the formation of gendered and laboring subjects in these new spaces. She suggests that by embracing the postwar growth-at-any-cost imperative, they have buttressed the nationalist enterprise along neocolonial lines.

The New Asian City
provides an innovative approach to how we might better understand the gleaming metropolises of the Pacific Rim. In doing so, it demonstrates how reading cultural production in conjunction with built environments can enrich our knowledge of the lived consequences of rapid economic and urban development.

New Woman in Early Twentieth-Century Chinese Fiction Cover

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New Woman in Early Twentieth-Century Chinese Fiction

by Jin Feng

Jin Feng proposes that representation of the "new woman" in Communist Chinese fiction of the earlier twentieth century was paradoxically one of the ways in which male writers of the era explored, negotiated, and laid claim to their own emerging identity as "modern" intellectuals.

Noh Drama and

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Noh Drama and "The Tale of the Genji"

The Art of Allusion in Fifteen Classical Plays

Janet Emily Goff

The Japanese noh theater has enjoyed a rich, continuous history dating back to the Muromachi period (1336-1573), when virtually the entire repertoire was written. Some of the finest plays were inspired by the eleventh-century masterpiece of court literature, The Tale of Genji. In this detailed study of fifteen noh plays based upon the Genji, Janet Goff looks at how the novel was understood and appreciated by Muromachi audiences. A work steeped in the court poetry, or waka, tradition, the Genji in turn provided a source of inspiration and allusion for later poets, who produced a variety of handbooks and digests on the work as an aid in composing poetry. Drawing on such sources from the Muromachi period, Goff shows how playwrights reflected contemporary attitudes toward the Genji, even as they transformed its material to suit the demands of the noh as a theatrical form. This book includes annotated translations of the plays, many of them appearing in English for the first time. The translations are preceded by essays covering the history of each play and its use of Genji material.

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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