Rethinking the Modern Chinese Canon: Refractions across the Transpacific

by Clara Iwasaki


"This clear-eyed and insightful book productively troubles the received boundaries of the canonical in Chinese and world literatures. Where many literary studies focus on vertical patterns of influence—dissecting which earlier authors influenced which modernists, for example, or how certain writers pressed their work into service toward political ends—this book works horizontally, arguing that many 20th-century Chinese writers engaged in direct dialogue with the literatures of the world through translation as well as through other forms of collaboration and communication. The book therefore offers a powerful and subtly radical reimagining of the global nature of circulated texts, whether in translation or through translation’s effective minions of appropriation, mimesis, and transnational dialogue. Writers and their works are not static, this book demonstrates, but rather are always already engaged in a dynamic conversation across time and space and—crucially—across language. The book will benefit not only scholars of modern Chinese literature but of Sinophone studies, comparative literature, American studies, Asian American studies, transpacific studies, cultural studies, and even modern comparative history, and will be an important teaching tool in translation studies." —Ari L. N. Heinrich, Australian National University

Rethinking the Modern Chinese Canon uncovers forgotten processes of literary exchange and circulation from the Republican era to the post–Cold War era surrounding early modern Chinese literary figures Xiao Hong, Yu Dafu, Lao She, and Zhang Ailing. This original and innovative study not only offers a bold and refreshing approach to transpacific studies that is broader in scope than its existing North America–Asia paradigm but also prompts us to question the canonical formation of world and Chinese literatures. By invoking the critical potential of the Sinophone as both category and methodology, Clara Iwasaki argues for the importance of literary relations that do not reflect the ideology of national liberation and/or the essence of nationalism in the first half of the 20th century with regards to China. This book will no doubt be a useful research and teaching resource for scholars in Sinophone studies, transpacific studies, comparative literature, world literature, modern Chinese literature, Asian American studies, and translation studies." —E. K. Tan, Stony Brook University, author of Rethinking Chineseness: Translational Sinophone Identities in the Nanyang Literary World


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