Hong Kong University Press, HKU

Royal Asiatic Society Shanghai

Published by: Hong Kong University Press, HKU

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Knowledge Is Pleasure

Florence Ayscough in Shanghai

Lindsay Shen

Florence Ayscough -- poet, translator, Sinologist, Shanghailander, “sensual realist”, avid collector, pioneering photographer and early feminist champion of women's rights in China. Ayscough's modernist translations of the classical poets still command respect, her ethnographic studies of the lives of Chinese women still engender feminist critiques over three quarters of a century later and her collections of Chinese ceramics and objets now form an important part of several American museums’ Asian art collections. Raised in Shanghai in an archetypal family in the late nineteenth century, Ayscough was to become anything but a typical foreigner in China. Encouraged by the New England poet Amy Lowell, she became a much sought-after translator in the early years of the new century, not least for her radical interpretations of the Tang dynasty poet Tu Fu published by the renowned literary critic Harriet Monroe. She later moved on to record China and particularly Chinese women using the new technology of photography, turn the Royal Asiatic Society's Shanghai library into the best on the China Coast and build several impressive collections featuring jars from the Dowager Empress Ci Xi, Ming and Qing ceramics. By the time of her death, Florence Ayscough left a legacy of collecting and scholarship unrivalled by any other foreign woman in China before or since. In this biography, Lindsay Shen recovers Ayscough for posterity and returns her to us as a woman of amazing intellectual vibrancy and strength.

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Lao She in London

Anne Witchard

‘London is blacker than lacquer’. Lao She remains revered as one of China great modern writers. His life and work have been the subject of volumes of critique, analysis and study. However, the four years the young aspiring writer spent in London between 1924 and 1929 have largely been overlooked. Anne Witchard, a specialist in the modernist milieu of London between the wars, reveals Lao She's encounter with British high modernism and literature from Dickens to Conrad to Joyce. Lao She arrived from his native Peking to the whirl of London's West End scene - Bloomsburyites, Vorticists, avant-gardists of every stripe, Ezra Pound and the cabaret at the Cave of the Golden Calf. Immersed in the West End 1920s world of risqué flappers, the tabloid sensation of England's ‘most infamous Chinaman Brilliant Chang’ and Anna May Wong's scandalous film Piccadilly, simultaneously Lao She spent time in the notorious and much sensationalised East End Chinatown of Limehouse. Out of his experiences came his great novel of London Chinese life and tribulations - Ma & Son: Two Chinese in London. However, as Witchard reveals, Lao She's London years affected his writing and ultimately the course of Chinese modernism in far more profound ways.

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