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The Chinese essay is arguably China’s most distinctive contribution to modern world literature, and the period of its greatest influence and popularity—the mid-1930s—is the central concern of this book. What Charles Laughlin terms "the literature of leisure" is a modern literary response to the cultural past that manifests itself most conspicuously in the form of short, informal essay writing (xiaopin wen). Laughlin examines the essay both as a widely practiced and influential genre of literary expression and as an important counter-discourse to the revolutionary tradition of New Literature (especially realistic fiction), often viewed as the dominant mode of literature at the time. After articulating the relationship between the premodern traditions of leisure literature and the modern essay, Laughlin treats the various essay styles representing different groups of writers. Each is characterized according to a single defining activity: "wandering" in the case of the Yu si (Threads of Conversation) group surrounding Lu Xun and Zhou Zuoren; "learning" with the White Horse Lake group of Zhejiang schoolteachers like Feng Zikai and Xia Mianzun; "enjoying" in the case of Lin Yutang’s Analects group; "dreaming" with the Beijing school. The concluding chapter outlines the impact of leisure literature on Chinese culture up to the present day. The Literature of Leisure and Chinese Modernity dramatizes the vast importance and unique nature of creative nonfiction prose writing in modern China. It will be eagerly read by those with an interest in twentieth-century Chinese literature, modern China, and East Asian or world literatures.
Most Japanese literary historians have suggested that the Meiji Period (1868-1912) was devoid of women writers but for the brilliant exception of Higuchi Ichiyo (1872-1896). Rebecca Copeland challenges this claim by examining in detail the lives and literary careers of three of Ichiyo's peers, each representative of the diversity and ingenuity of the period: Miyake Kaho (1868-1944), Wakamatsu Shizuko (1864-1896), and Shimizu Shikin (1868-1933). In a carefully researched introduction, Copeland establishes the context for the development of female literary expression. She follows this with chapters on each of the women under consideration. Miyake Kaho, often regarded as the first woman writer of modern Japan, offers readers a vision of the female vitality that is often overlooked when discussing the Meiji era. Wakamatsu Shizuko, the most prominent female translator of her time, had a direct impact on the development of a modern written language for Japanese prose fiction. Shimizu Shikin reminds readers of the struggle women endured in their efforts to balance their creative interests with their social roles. Interspersed throughout are excerpts from works under discussion, most never before translated, offering an invaluable window into this forgotten world of women's writing.
Shimao Toshio and the Margins of Japanese Literature
Hailed by the noted critic Karatani Kojin as a more important and lasting writer than Mishima, Shimao Toshio (1917-1986) remains almost unknown in the West. Several of his short stories have appeared in English translation, yet it is only now, with the publication of Philip Gabriel's comprehensive and searching study, that Shimao's work is being introduced to the worldwide audience it deserves. Mad Wives and Island Dreams not only is a thorough assessment of the literary legacy of a highly original and influential writer, but also represents a significant contribution to the consideration of much broader issues relating to the emergence and nature of the postwar Japanese sense of identity. Shimao's fiction covers a wide range of topics: the war and its aftermath, the unconscious, the nuclear family, madness, the position of women, the culture of Japan's southern islands. Shimao's experiences as a survivor of a "kamikaze" unit underscore much of his literature and resulted in a series of compelling short stories unique in modern fiction. Many of these early, critically acclaimed works, including the classic "Everyday Life in a Dream," are based on the narrative logic of the unconscious. Mad Wives and Island Dreams contextualizes these "dream stories" as a literary expression of wartime trauma and argues that Shimao's powerful narration of guilt and victimization challenges standard readings of Japanese war literature. Shimao's most popular works are the byosaimono (literally "stories of a sick wife"), which chronicle the real-life crisis of his wife's madness in the mid-1950s. Among these is the writer's best-known work, the 1977 novel Shi no toge (The sting of death), widely recognized as one of the masterpieces of Japanese literature. The novel further explores Shimao's "literature of the victimizer" and wartime experience while revealing a feminist perspective that explores links between the suppressed aspirations of women and madness. Perhaps, most importantly, just as the novel examines the relationship between the wife, Miho, and her southern island roots, Shi no toge parallels Shimao's growing concern over the culture of marginalized regions and notions of cultural diversity-a concern that would eventually result in the Yaponesia essays. In Mad Wives and Island Dreams, Gabriel succeeds in linking all of the seemingly disparate strands within Shimao's oeuvre--the war stories, the byosaimono, the dream stories, the Yaponesia writings-categories all too often discussed in isolation. He shows convincingly that together they represent a consistent and concerted attempt to depict the existence of "the Other," the significant periphery of a less than homogenous whole. This volume will prove fascinating and important reading for those interested in questions of cultural identity and marginalization as well as Japanese literature and culture.
Reading Lu Xun's Fiction
The book makes use of critical and cultural theory to consider these short stories in the context of not only Chinese fiction, but in terms of the art of the short story, and in relation to literary modernism. It attempts to put Lu Xun into as wide a perspective as possible for contemporary reading. To make his work widely accessible, he is treated here in English translation.
Globalization and the Emergence of Asian and African Literature in Spanish
The Magellan Fallacy argues that literature in Spanish from Asia and Africa, though virtually unknown, reimagines the supposed centers and peripheries of the modern world in fundamental ways. Through archival research and comparative readings, The Magellan Fallacy rethinks mainstream mappings of diverse cultures while advocating the creation of a new field of scholarship: global literature in Spanish. As the first attempt to analyze Asian and African literature in Spanish together, and doing so while ranging over all continents, The Magellan Fallacy crosses geopolitical and cultural borders without end. The implications of the book, therefore, extend far beyond the lands formerly ruled by the Spanish empire. The Magellan Fallacy shows that all theories of globalization, including those focused on the Americas and Europe, must be able to account for the varied significances of hispanophone Asia and Africa as well.
Local Opera under the Revolution (1949–1956)
This volume is the most extensive social and cultural history of twentieth-century Huangmei Opera to date. A regional Chinese theater originating in the Anqing countryside, Huangmei Opera gained popularity with the success of the 1950s play and movie, Tianxian pei 天仙配 (Married to a Heavenly Immortal). Through a case study of this work, the author juxtaposes the complex process of rewriting and revising the play and movie against the rapidly changing cultural and ideological climate of the Communist theater reform movement. As a result, the traditional theme of filial piety becomes a struggle over class and free love. This volume features a full translation of the original play and its revision in the 1950s, as well as selected articles by scriptwriters, directors, performers, and critics. These primary sources allow readers to gain access to inside views of the contemporaries and their political and artistic concerns. “Wilt Idema is one of the most important scholars in Chinese literary and cultural studies. Few in the academia can emulate him in both the spectrum of specializations and the depth of scholarship. From Yuan drama to Ming fiction, and traditional folk culture to modern performing arts, Idema’s work demonstrates a Sinologist’s dedication, erudition, and originality at its best. Tianxian pei is arguably the most popular play in mid-twentieth century China. In his book, Idema discusses the play’s roots and ramifications, its incarnations in multiple genes and medial forms, and its significance in modern Chinese cultural politics. His critical insight is illuminating and his translational expertise impeccable. The Metamorphosis of Tianxian pei is a major contribution to the studies of Chinese folklore, literature, theatre, and media.” David Der-wei Wang, Harvard University “This is a real contribution to the literature on Chinese popular theatre. The particular opera chosen is a famous love story between a mortal and an immortal that has touched and charmed ordinary Chinese people over generations. The author’s translations and his own writing style show a sense of style and expertise that make a perfect combination for such a work as this. The commentary is always penetrating and interesting. This book will appeal to the general reader as much as it will to specialists.” Colin Mackerras, Griffith University
Of Birds Crying
Of Birds Crying (Naku tori no, 1985), the recipient of the Noma Bungei Prize, is loosely based on the author’s own life, recounting six months in the lives of Yurie Mama, a well-established middle-aged novelist married to Shōzō, a scientist. In this deeply psychological novel, a tapestry of extraordinary moments expands and interconnects via interior monologues and dialogues ranging from the humorous and farcical to the somber and meditative. Acutely perceptive social and cross-cultural commentaries fill the narrator’s voice and the characters’ conversations. Long-forgotten incidents come back to life, triggered by the sight of an ancient tree, the name of a flower, or the crying of a bird, and memories spawn tales within tales. Despite the fact that the characters’ motives for their actions defy prediction, these seemingly disparate elements are woven into a coherent whole, a reflection of the interdependency of humanity and nature in its wholeness that is one of the many underlying threads of the story.
Genre, Consumption, and Religiosity in Cultural Practice
Richard Wang's Ming Erotic Novellas is path breaking in its attention to a virtually ignored body of literature that certainly influenced the writing of the Jin Ping Mei, the Sanyan vernacular stories, and most likely Li Yu's fiction. Compared to other titles in the field, this is the first scholarly monograph in any language to contextualize the erotic novellas of late imperial China. Moreover, existing studies in this area have tended to concentrate on a limited number of works of Chinese erotic fiction, or have only brushed up against these works tangentially during more general discussion of Ming and Qing literature. Ming Erotic Novellas adopts a provocative approach to fiction, moving beyond the traditional textual analyses of gender politics and the qing cult, and examining these erotic novellas as a new genre within the contexts of print culture, readership, consumption patterns, as well as religious dimensions. Ming Erotic Novellas focuses on a group of mid to late Ming literary (wenyan) novellas, which are all stories of erotic romance. These novellas include a profusion of poems mixed with prose narratives that are characterized by "simple" literary Chinese, with a tendency toward the vernacular. Their plots are complex, with some running 20,000 characters or more, allowing for nuanced character development, rich dialogue, and psychological description. Circulated widely during the Ming, the novellas had a significant impact on later erotic and "scholar-beauty" (caizi jiaren) novels. This particular group of novellas was of great importance in the development of Chinese fiction, functioning as a transitional link between the classical tale to the vernacular novel. By approaching these works through the lens of a cultural study, Wang is able to explore the social functions of the novellas as well as their significance in the development of Chinese fiction in the Ming cultural context.
The Fiction and Essays of Koda Aya
Ann Sherif discusses the life and work of Kòda in light of changes in critical horizons, readerly communities, and especially constructions of gender and the family in the latter half of the twentieth century. Excellent translations of some of Kòda's most provocative short works are included.