The Chinese Prose Poem: A Study of Lu Xun's Wild Grass (Yecao)

by Nicholas A. Kaldis


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"A comprehensive, well-balanced study ... Kaldis's analyses of many of the pieces are brilliant and insightful. His own prose style and argumentation are impeccable. ... As scholars, we have to be more than recorders of facts or appliers of methodologies. Kaldis's book is an example of how much can be achieved by combining careful scholarship with creative reading and inspired writing. Students, scholars, and anyone who is curious to learn more about Lu Xun should turn to this superlative work for many years to come."– CLEAR

"A well-crafted, critical, and interpretive analysis of Lu Xun’s Wild Grass (Yecao). In addition to standing as its own critical interpretation, The Chinese Prose Poem is also a well annotated bibliographical reference for interpretations of Lu Xun’s prose poem collection. Nicholas A. Kaldis draws convincingly on the literary interpretive strategy of Walter A. Davis and is informed by Freudian psychology and Nietzschean symbolism (an interest of Lu Xun’s), which the author weaves into his close readings of Lu Xun’s prose poems themselves. ... Kaldis’ close readings of Yecao works use ample quotations with accompanying Chinese characters (which will be appreciated by Chinese-literate readers), discussions of Xun’s linguistic expressions, and his psychological and emotional states. The readings are well considered and complex, and Kaldis’ analyses and interpretive perspectives are clear and solid, engaging productively with Lu Xun’s intentionally difficult embrace of a language of paradox in Yecao." – Frontiers of Literary Studies in China

"As a reference work, the book fulfills its role by underlying the entire project with extensive scholarly apparatus. ... This extensive supplementary matter provides a rich fund of secondary observations, such as notes on translation, intertextual connections with Lu Xun’s other writings, and most prominently, background dialogue with the voluminous English- and Chinese-language studies of Yecao. Those studies alone represent a small sea of scholarship, all indexed in the book’s substantial sixty-page bibliography, a feat of compilation that stands as a scholarly resource in and of itself. Clearly, The Chinese Prose Poem is not aimed at the casual reader; but for that matter, neither was Yecao. ... As a whole, the close readings of the twenty-four poems remain true to Kaldis’s interpretive approach. He works with linguistic, structural, imagistic, and dramatic attributes intrinsic to each piece, directs us to important allusions to Chinese and western literature and philosophy, and frequently refers the Yecao poems to Lu Xun’s other writings, all done without losing sight of the existential-psychoanalytic interpretive framework developed in Chapter 1. The Chinese Prose Poem lives up to its promise as a scholarly reference and reader’s companion to some of Lu Xun’s most challenging and enigmatic work. Of equal importance, the book reaffirms the value of the close reading of literature, implicitly arguing, along with Lu Xun, that serious literature does matter and might change its readers for the better, given that those readers are willing to put in the effort of close, thoughtful analysis and reflection." – MCLC


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