Chinese Literature and Culture in the Age of Global Capitalism review

MCLC Resource Center is pleased to announce publication of Aoife Cantrill’s review of Chinese Literature and Culture in the Age of Global Capitalism: Renaissance or Rehabilitation?, by Wang Xiaoping. The review appears below and at its online home: https://u.osu.edu/mclc/book-reviews/cantrill/. My thanks to Nicholas Kaldis, MCLC literary studies book review editor, for ushering the review to publication.

Kirk A. Denton, MCLC

Chinese Literature and Culture in the Age of
Global Capitalism: Renaissance or Rehabilitation?

By Wang Xiaoping


Reviewed by Aoife Cantrill

MCLC Resource Center Publication (Copyright January, 2022)


Wang Xiaoping, Chinese Literature and Culture in the Age of Global Capitalism: Renaissance or Rehabilitation? Leiden and Boston: Brill, 2021. xii + 376 pp. ISBN 978-90-04-46119-2 (E-Book: PDF); ISBN 978-90-04-46118-5 (Hardback).

Rarely when assessing a book do reviewers encourage readers to begin with the final chapters. In the case of Wang Xiaoping’s Chinese Literature and Culture in the Age of Global Capitalism: Renaissance or Rehabilitation?, however, this reviewer would recommend doing so.[1] Chapters eight to ten and the volume’s conclusion provide a convincing distillation of the book’s critical thrust, by way of a concise rundown of the cultural-political debates that have occupied Chinese literary intellectuals from the turn of the twenty-first century. In these closing chapters, Wang contextualizes his contribution alongside the discussions of the New Left and New Right during the 1990s, as well as more recent commentary exemplified by Zhang Xudong’s 2015 treatise on China’s cultural direction, Cultural Identity in the Era of Globalization (全球化时代的文化认同).[2] These debates are animated by now-familiar questions that accompany any study placing China in the “global” perspective: the significance of “modernity”; China’s superiority, inferiority, or proximity to the West; and what is meant by “postsocialism.” Wang’s work considers these questions anew, answering them with reference to “the renaissance of China’s socialist culture” (348), identified in the title of his conclusion. Continue reading

Circuit Listening review

MCLC Resource Center is pleased to announce publication of Jeroen de Kloet’s review of Circuit Listening: Chinese Popular Music in the Global 1960s, by Andrew F. Jones. The review appears below and at its online home: https://u.osu.edu/mclc/book-reviews/circuit-listening/. My thanks to media studies book review editor Jason McGrath for ushering the review to publication.

Kirk Denton, MCLC

Circuit Listening:
Chinese Popular Music in the Global 1960s

By Andrew F. Jones


Reviewed by Jeroen de Kloet

MCLC Resource Center Publication (Copyright December, 2021)


Andrew F. Jones, Circuit Listening: Chinese Popular Music in the Global 1960s Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2020.
304 pp. ISBN: 978-1517902070 (paper); ISBN 978-1517902063 (hardcover)

Allow me a rather unconventional and slightly self-indulgent opening to this book review. I read most of this book during a three-week quarantine in a hotel in Hong Kong. To keep fit, I would do some body combat exercises in the mornings. One online teacher, named Dan, would tell me that this lesson is all about connection, about connecting to the music, to your body, to others, and to the movements. That message is strikingly in-tune with the focus of Andrew Jones’s book Circuit Listening: Chinese Popular Music in the Global 1960s. And it is a powerful message, captured so well in the key concept of this book: circuit listening. The book explores musical cultures in Mainland China, Hong Kong, and Taiwan, in the 1960s and beyond, alternating rich empirical detail with lucid theorizations that hark back to globalization theory, popular music studies, and China studies. It presents an outstanding cultural history that helps to de-center the West and powerfully shows how cultural production is always already a form of cross-contamination, cross-fertilization, and creative entanglement, in the Sinophone world as elsewhere. Continue reading

Youth Economy, Crisis, and Reinvention in Twenty-First-Century China

MCLC Resource Center is pleased to announce publication of Liang Luo’s review of Youth Economy, Crisis, and Reinvention in Twenty-First-Century China: Morning Sun in the Tiny Times, by Hui Faye Xiao. The review appears below and at its online home: https://u.osu.edu/mclc/book-reviews/youth-economy/. My thanks to media studies book review editor, Jason McGrath, for ushering the review to publication.

Kirk Denton, MCLC

Youth Economy, Crisis, and Reinvention in
Twenty-First-Century China: Morning Sun in the Tiny Times

By Hui Faye Xiao


Reviewed by Liang Luo

MCLC Resource Center Publication (Copyright December, 2021)


Hui Faye Xiao, Youth Economy, Crisis, and Reinvention in Twenty-First-Century China: Morning Sun in the Tiny Times London: Routledge, 2020. 236 pp. ISBN 9781032084695 (paperback); ISBN 9780367345518 (hardcover)

Hui Faye Xiao’s Youth Economy, Crisis, and Reinvention in Twenty-First-Century China: Morning Sun in the Tiny Times is an exciting and rewarding read. It is part of the Contemporary China series from Routledge, a series successfully bridging the social sciences and humanities. Xiao’s introduction and conclusion bind her central case studies together and offer a vision of hope amid competing trends of crisis and reinvention in what she calls the “youth economy” of twenty-first-century China.

In her introductory chapter 1, Xiao reads contemporary Chinese youth culture in the three keys of “youth economy,” “youth crisis,” and “youth reinvention.” Throughout her investigation, Xiao pays close attention to the agency, initiative, and creativity of the younger generation. She further highlights the power of the ongoing digital revolution in augmenting the self-expression and critical social engagement of Chinese youths. According to Xiao, the three keys of economy, crisis, and reinvention work together to best represent the dynamic interactions among different forces in the contemporary Chinese youth culture scene. First, “youth economy” emphasizes that Chinese youth culture, like any youth culture, is highly commercialized; situated in a roaring market economy under globalization, it also represents a departure from China’s socialist past, although historical continuities and resonances are important for Xiao’s nuanced articulations of the contemporary phenomena as well. Second, “youth crisis” refers to how the profit-driven neoliberal economy accelerates the division, differentiation, and fragmentation of Chinese youths along class, gender, ethnicity, educational, and regional lines. Third, “youth reinvention” articulates how the creative economy generates new opportunities for younger generations and may give birth to possible new youth subjects pushing forward social and cultural changes. Here the aesthetics and politics of youthful smallness, often associated with marginalized identities, emerge as central threads (23). Xiao insists on the creative potentials of the “small” identities, genres, and media studied in her book, arguing for their powers for coalition-building and reinvention among marginalized social groups. Continue reading

Translating Early Modern China review

MCLC Resource Center is pleased to announce publication of Lucas Klein’s review of Translating Early Modern China: Illegible Cities, by Carla Nappi. The review appears below and at its online home: https://u.osu.edu/mclc/book-reviews/translating-early-modern-china/. My thanks to our new book review editor for translations and translation studies, Michael Gibbs Hill, for ushering the review to publication.

Enjoy,

Kirk A. Denton, MCLC

Translating Early Modern China:
Illegible Cities

By Carla Nappi


Reviewed by Lucas Klein

MCLC Resource Center Publication (Copyright December, 2021)


Carla Nappi, Translating Early Modern China: Illegible Cities Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2021. 256 pp. ISBN: 978-0-19-886639-8 (Cloth)

“This is a history book” (vii), Carla Nappi writes at the beginning of Translating Early Modern China: Illegible Cities. Then: “this isn’t a history book” (viii). She’s right.

I find it a sad irony as a partisan of my discipline that historians are so often better than literary scholars at incorporating daring literary techniques into their scholarly writings—or into their conceptualizations of what it means to write scholarship. Nappi, for instance, has lectured and has a forthcoming book on the art of history as the art of the disc jockey (I think of David Bowie: “I am a DJ, I am what I play”). Even so, this history book is not only not a standard history book, it is also much more than a history book: it is a work of translation studies; it is an appeal to understand China beyond its obvious yet limiting relationship to the Chinese language; and it is a work of literature. In the medium of its mixture of these various aspects and more is its message about early modern China and translation. Continue reading

Going to the Countryside review

MCLC Resource Center is pleased to announce publication of Nicolai Volland’s review of Going to the Countryside: The Rural in the Modern Chinese Cultural Imagination, 1915-1965, by Yu Zhang. The review appears below and at its online home: https://u.osu.edu/mclc/book-reviews/volland2/. My thanks to Nicholas Kaldis, our literary studies book review editor, for ushering the review to publication.

Kirk Denton, MCLC

Going to the Countryside: The Rural in the
Modern Chinese Cultural Imagination, 1915-1965

By Yu Zhang


Reviewed by Nicolai Volland

MCLC Resource Center Publication (Copyright December, 2021)


Yu Zhang, Going to the Countryside: The Rural in the Modern Chinese Cultural Imagination, 1915-1965 Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 2020. xii, 294 pp. ISBN 978-0-472-05443-5 (paper); ISBN 978-0-472-07443-3 (hardcover); ISBN 978-0-472-12660-6 (ebook).

In summer 1968, Mao Zedong ordered millions of educated youth to move to the countryside, “where the nation needs you most.” The disbanding of the Red Guards, called to life early in the Cultural Revolution to topple Mao’s opponents in the Party, set off the largest urban-to-rural migration in modern Chinese history. It also profoundly changed the course of modern Chinese literature. Members of the grouping later called “misty poets” first met during rustication, and many of their most celebrated works were written in the countryside. The 1980s revival of China’s nativist literary tradition, in the form of the “roots-seeking movement,” drew heavily on the experiences of sent-down youth (知青) in the countryside and in frontier locations, from Ah Cheng’s 阿城 Yunnan to Zheng Chengzhi’s 鄭承志 Northwest to Han Shaogong’s 韓少功 Hunan. The budding avant-gardists, likewise, found inspiration in the countryside for their experimental works. And the fifth-generation filmmakers were drawn to rural settings, delivering portrayals of the countryside that stood in stark contrast to the images found in films from the 1950s and 1960s. Originally designed to close the gap between urban and rural areas, the rustication of millions of urban-educated youths instead widened the gulf. The confrontation with life in China’s vast agrarian hinterland traumatized many of the “sent-down youth” and, beginning in the late 1970s, shaped the nation’s cultural imagination of the countryside, in literature and in film, for decades to come. Continue reading

Decadence in Modern Chinese Literature and Culture review

MCLC Resource Center is pleased to announce publication of Nan Hu’s review of Decadence in Modern Chinese Literature and Culture: A Comparative and Literary-Historical Reevaluation, by Hongjian Wang. The review appears below and at its online home: https://u.osu.edu/mclc/book-reviews/nan-hu/. My thanks to Nicholas Kaldis, MCLC’s literary studies book review editor, for ushering the review to publication.

Kirk Denton, MCLC

Decadence in Modern Chinese Literature and Culture:
A Comparative and Literary-Historical Reevaluation

By Hongjian Wang


Reviewed by Nan Hu

MCLC Resource Center Publication (Copyright November, 2021)


Hongjian Wang, Decadence in Modern Chinese Literature and Culture: A Comparative and Literary-Historical Reevaluation Amherst, NY: Cambria Press, 2020. viii+252 pp. ISBN: 9781621965435 (hardcover).

Decadence in Modern Chinese Literature and Culture: A Comparative and Literary-Historical Reevaluation is a necessary and long-awaited revision to the extant scholarship and common perceptions of “Decadent” literature in China.[1] Following an introductory discussion of the history and origins of the term, Hongjian Wang works through a series of studies of seven prominent writers, devoting a separate chapter to each and revealing not only specific ways in which each writer engages with Decadence, but also the cultural and social dynamics fueling the emergence and development of Chinese Decadent literature from the 1920s through the 2000s. Along with the introduction and a conclusion, the seven chapters are divided into three thematically- and chronologically-titled parts: Part I, “Seeing Romanticism through Decadence: Tuifei Writers in the 1920s and 1930s,” is comprised of one chapter on Yu Dafu 郁达夫 and one on Shao Xunmei 邵洵美; Part II, “Farewell to Revolution: Critical Fin-De-Siécle-ization in the Late 1980s and Early 1990s,” analyzes the works of Yu Hua 余华 and Su Tong 苏童, respectively; while Part III, “Performing Perversion: Decadence with Chinese Characteristics from the Mid-1980s to the Turn of the Century,” looks at three writers—Wang Shuo 王朔, Wang Xiaobo 王小波, and Yin Lichuan 尹丽川. Regarding the gap from the late 1930s to the late 1970s, Wang explains that Decadent writing at that time was suppressed by patriotic and nationalistic discourses during the second Sino-Japanese War (1937-1945) and then by leftist/communist-inspired politics and ideology in the subsequent civil war (1945-1949) and throughout the Mao era (1949-1976). Continue reading

Chinese Science Fiction during the Post-Mao Cultural Thaw review

MCLC and MCLC Resource Center are pleased to announce publicatiaon of Yingying Huang’s review of Chinese Science Fiction during the Post-Mao Cultural Thaw, by Hua Li. The review appears below and at its online home: https://u.osu.edu/mclc/book-reviews/yingying-huang/. My thanks to Nicholas Kaldis, MCLC literary studies book review editor, for ushering the review to publication.

Kirk Denton, MCLC

Chinese Science Fiction
during the Post-Mao Cultural Thaw

By Hua Li


Reviewed by Yingying Huang

MCLC Resource Center Publication (Copyright November, 2021)


Hua Li, Chinese Science Fiction during the Post-Mao Cultural Thaw Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2021. x + 234 pp. ISBN: 9781487508234 (cloth)

The recent history of Chinese science fiction has unfolded in staccato rhythm, punctuated by abrupt suspensions. The incorporation and popularization of science in PRC creative literature, begun in the 1950s and 1960s, was first interrupted by the Cultural Revolution. It then resumed with a brief boom from the late 1970s through the early 1980s, during the cultural thaw of the early reform era, then again came to a halt in 1983 with the launch of the short-lived Campaign to Eliminate Spiritual Pollution (清除精神污染运动). It did not experience robust revival until the 1990s, the beginning of what Mingwei Song calls “New Wave Chinese SF” that continues to the present.[1] During this most recent wave, both the subjects and style of the genre have been utterly transformed, displaying a new degree of complexity that is often attributed more to the influence of translated works than seen as an outgrowth of domestic developments. Continue reading

Liu Zaifu: Selected Critical Essays review

MCLC and MCLC Resource Center are pleased to announce publication of Carlos Rojas’s review of Liu Zaifu: Selected Critical Essays, edited by Howard Y. F. Choy and Liu Jianmei. The review appears below and at its online home: https://u.osu.edu/mclc/book-reviews/rojas/. My thanks to Nicholas Kaldis, MCLC literary studies book review editor, for ushering the review to publication.

Kirk A. Denton, MCLC

Liu Zaifu: Selected Critical Essays

By Liu Zaifu
Edited by Howard Y. F. Choy and Liu Jianmei


Reviewed by Carlos Rojas
MCLC Resource Center Publication (Copyright November, 2021)


Liu Zaifu, Liu Zaifu: Selected Critical Essays. Edited by Howard Y. F. CHOY and LIU Jianmei. Leiden and Boston: Brill, 2021. xxii + 375 pp. ISBN: 978-90-04-44911-4 (hardback) ISBN: 978-90-04-44912-1 (e-book).

Liu Zaifu was born in 1941, one year before Erich Auerbach began working on what would become his magnum opus, Mimesis: The Representation of Reality in Western Literature.[1] The dates of the latter work’s composition—May 1942-April 1945—were significant enough that Auerbach saw fit to have them printed on the verso of the book’s title page. Not only did the composition period of Mimesis closely coincide with World War II, the work was also written in Istanbul, Turkey, where Auerbach had been forced to relocate in 1935, after being dismissed from his academic post in Marburg, Germany as a result of Nazi policies.[2]

Although Auerbach adjusted quickly to his new post in Istanbul, the new setting was nevertheless far from ideal. For instance, Auerbach observes in the epilogue to Mimesis that

the book was written during the war and at Istanbul, where the libraries are not well equipped for European studies. International communications were impeded; I had to dispense with almost all periodicals, with almost all the more recent investigations, and in some cases with reliable critical editions of my texts. (2003: 557)

At the same time, however, Auerbach also notes that there is a way in which these same restrictions and impediments may have also been enabling:

The lack of technical literature and periodicals may also serve to explain that my book has no notes. Aside from the texts, I quote comparatively little, and that little it was easy to include in the body of the book. On the other hand it is quite possible that the book owes its existence to just this lack of a rich and specialized library. If it had been possible for me to acquaint myself with all the work that has been done on so many subjects, I might never have reached the point of writing. (ibid) Continue reading

Contending for the “Chinese Modern” review

MCLC and MCLC Resource Center is pleased to announce publication of Christopher Rosenmeier’s review of Contending for the “Chinese Modern”: The Writing of Fiction in the Great Transformative Epoch of Modern China, 1937-1949, by Wang Xiaoping. The review appears below and at its online home: https://u.osu.edu/mclc/book-reviews/rosenmeier/. My thanks to Nicholas Kaldis, MCLC book review editor for literary studies, for ushering the review to publication.

Kirk Denton, MCLC

Contending for the “Chinese Modern”: The Writing of Fiction in
the Great Transformative Epoch of Modern China, 1937-1949

By Wang Xiaoping


Reviewed by Christopher Rosenmeier

MCLC Resource Center Publication (Copyright November, 2021)


Wang Xiaoping, Contending for the “Chinese Modern”: The Writing of Fiction in the Great Transformative Epoch of Modern China, 1937-1949 Brill: Leiden and Boston, 2019. xii + 604 pp. ISBN: 978-90-04-39862-7 (hardcover); ISBN: 978-90-04-39863-4 (e-book)

Wang Xiaoping’s monograph surveying Chinese literature and cultural theory in the 1940s presents itself ambitiously as “a new paradigm in studies of modern Chinese literature” (back cover), but it belongs, I believe, to a rather different category of writing that had its heyday in the PRC some time ago: a political critique targeting various writers and scholars from a Maoist perspective. Although a study of class dynamics in 1940s wartime fiction might well have been a worthwhile addition to the current research on the period, Wang’s analysis unfortunately appears to be driven by an agenda based on how he thinks class issues and relationships ought to have been portrayed at the time so as better to serve national causes. As a work of academic scholarship, there is little to commend Contending for the “Chinese Modern.” Continue reading

How China Escaped Shock Therapy review

Source: London Review of Books 43, 20 (21 October 2021)
The Scissors Gap
By Rebecca E. Karl

How China Escaped Shock Therapy: The Market Reform Debate by Isabella Weber. Routledge, 358 pp., £29.99, May, 978 1 03 200849 3

In July 1978, Hu Qiaomu, a sociologist who was working in Deng Xiaoping’s Political Research Office, issued a dire report on the Chinese peasantry. Hu wasn’t known as a supporter of radical reform, but he nevertheless called for something to be done to mitigate the effects of the socialist industrialisation programme. Over the previous three decades China’s agricultural sector had been systematically underdeveloped in comparison to its industrial sector, resulting in what became known as the ‘scissors gap’. The prices the state paid peasants for their produce were so low that relief from rural poverty was systemically impossible. As younger – and bolder – intellectuals than Hu graduated from their rural re-education locations and took up academic and political positions in major cities, a debate began over the best way to lift the peasantry, then still 80 per cent of the Chinese population, out of poverty. Economic restructuring was clearly in order. Within a few years, the debate had spread beyond intellectual circles in China, and was engaging economists and policymakers in Eastern and Western Europe, as well as the US. The market, they determined, would rescue the Chinese people. Continue reading

Moonlight Rests on My Left Palm review

Source: Washington Post (9/29/21)
Review of Moonlight Rests on My Left Palm by Yu Xiuhua, Trans. Fiona Sze-Lorrain
Poet Yu Xiuhua became a viral sensation. Her first book-length collection in English translation deserves to bring her an even bigger audience.
Reviewed by Chris Littlewood

Moonlight Rests on My Left: Poems and Essays By Yu Xiuhua; Translated by Fiona Sze-Lorrain Astra House. 160 pp. $21

Soon after publishing the poem “Crossing Half of China to F— You” on her blog in 2014, Yu Xiuhua rose from obscurity to become one of the most widely read poets of her generation. Discussions of her poetry, and its viral success, were inevitably tied to her life, which made her a singular figure in Chinese poetry: She was born with cerebral palsy, which affected her movement and speech, to a family of farmers who lived in the small village of Hengdian in rural Hubei province, which she had barely left. In China, the shock of her rise was felt like lightning. Now, with the publication of her first book-length collection in English, “Moonlight Rests on My Left Palm,” in a lyrical translation by Fiona Sze-Lorrain, a new audience has a chance to hear the thunderclap.

The book intersperses a selection of Yu’s poems with her essays, arranged in an associative flow that shifts back and forth in time. The ruminative essays, rendered in elegant but somewhat mannered prose, offer context and insight on her life and poetry, but their meanderings can sap the energy of the collection. The poems, which compress her thoughts into daring and disconcerting forms, are another matter. Continue reading

Stories of the White Terror review

Source: Taipei Times
Book review: Fictionalizing Taiwan’s White Terror
Political persecution is revealed as a violence that extends beyond physical abuse to a trauma that scars the soul
By James Baron / Contributing Reporter

Transitions in Taiwan: Stories of the White Terror, edited by Ian Rowen.

Violence and oppression, we are told in the introduction to this collection of tales, are foundational to modern Taiwan, providing “a legacy that continues to influence its contemporary society.”

It is interesting, then, that an anthology subtitled “Stories about the White Terror,” offers few instances of physical violence, a notable exception being a neighborhood dust-up involving a gossip nicknamed Big Mouth Yang.

This incident, from Sung Tse-lai’s (宋澤萊) “Rice Diary,” is the first snapshot in a montage of quotidian happenings in the village of Daniunan (打牛湳), Yunlin County. The story forms part of a series focusing on life in this village in the 50s and 60s.

At first glance, the squabble is an insignificant personal grievance. Yet, this land rights wrangle points to something deeper. Acknowledging that he could simply divide the disputed property, Big Mouth’s assailant Ban-hok nonetheless concludes that “in this downturn, with so much craziness and thievery all around — well maybe he was thief, too.” Continue reading

The Stone and the Wireless review

MCLC Resource Center is pleased to announce publication of Xuenan Cao’s review of The Stone and the Wireless: Mediating China, 1861-1906, by Shaoling Ma. The review appears below and at its online home: https://u.osu.edu/mclc/book-reviews/the-stone-and-the-wireless/. My thanks to Nicholas Kaldis, MCLC book review editor for literary studies, for ushering the review to publication.

Kirk Denton, MCLC

The Stone and the Wireless:
Mediating China, 1861-1906

By Shaoling Ma


Reviewed by Xuenan Cao

MCLC Resource Center Publication (Copyright October, 2021)


Shaoling Ma, The Stone and the Wireless: Mediating China, 1861-1906 Durham: Duke University Press, 2021. ix+312 pp. ISBN: 978-1-4780-1147-7 (paper) / 978-1-4780-1046-3 (cloth).

The Stone and the Wireless is a convincing critique of the notion that China lacked communication networks before the advent of Western technoscience. The book undermines any simplistic answer to the Needham Question (a.k.a., “the ‘Needham paradigm’ postulating the supposed absence of modern science in China,” 10), instead tracing a complex web of media technologies in the late Qing period (1861-1906). Ma documents the variety of strategies Qing diplomats, writers, poets, and other media practitioners employed in their efforts to make sense of the era by tinkering with existing technologies through the practical use of technoscience. Ma sheds light on imaginary strategies as well—unrealized media scenarios that nonetheless helped shape the narrative of communication in the late Qing, as found in (gendered) Techno-utopian visions of the future.

The book covers the period from 1861, when the Ministry of Foreign Affairs was established, to 1906, when the Ministry of Posts and Communications centralized all “transmissions.” This unconventional periodization of the late Qing marks the object of study: mediation. Although “media” as a term in Chinese did not exist in the second half of the nineteenth century, devices and technologies weighed heavily on the minds of those who did not have the vocabulary to describe their experience in a time of transition. Ma proposes to synthesize devices, sciences, and sensitivities, defining “mediation” as “the dynamic interactions between the material and technical process or device, and its discursive significations in texts and images” (5). Mediation enacts a “cleaving and bridging of technics and signification,” which Ma describes, citing Xiao Liu, as a “‘worlding’ process” of “temporal and spatial reorganization” and “generates new relations, conflicts, and negotiations” (5). Continue reading

Chinese Poetry and Translation review

MCLC Resource Center is pleased to announce publication of Michel Hockx’s review of Chinese Poetry and Translation: Rights and Wrongs, edited by Maghiel van Crevel and Lucas Klein. The review appears below and at its online home: https://u.osu.edu/mclc/book-reviews/chinese-poetry-and-translation/. My thanks to Nicholas Kaldis, MCLC book review editor for literary studies, for ushering the review to publication.

Kirk Denton, MCLC

Chinese Poetry and Translation:
Rights and Wrongs

Edited by Maghiel van Crevel and Lucas Klein


Reviewed by Michel Hockx

MCLC Resource Center Publication (Copyright October, 2021)


Maghiel van Crevel and Lucas Klein, eds., Chinese Poetry and Translation: Rights and Wrongs. Amsterdam: Amsterdam University Press, 2019. 355 pp. OPEN SOURCE ISBN: 9789462989948 (Hardback).

This is a very rich collection of essays showcasing a range of approaches to the study and practice of Chinese poetry translation. The editors are both leading scholars of Chinese poetry, as well as highly experienced poetry translators in their own right. Their efforts bring together an intellectually diverse yet coherent set of papers by a group of individuals who clearly have engaged actively and productively with one another’s work, despite their sometimes considerable differences in background and approach. Published by Amsterdam University Press, the book is an open access publication, freely downloadable through the OAPEN platform.

Translation Studies is a vibrant, highly interdisciplinary field. It is also still a relatively young field, as evidenced by the fact that publications by translation scholars often tend to sound somewhat defensive of their own enterprise. The case still needs to be made, again and again, that translations are worth studying in their own right; that translators need to be recognized as creative writers; that studying translation is not about finding “mistakes”; and that, in the case of poetry especially, nothing gets “lost” in translation. In their brief introduction to Chinese Poetry and Translation, van Crevel and Klein state their case succinctly and elegantly by offering the metaphor of the triptych: a tripartite structure that invites intellectual movement beyond simple binaries and toward thinking in three terms: China + poetry + translation, or (referencing Walter Benjamin) source language + target language + third language. They add to this a healthy dose of irony, by openly censoring Robert Frost’s infamous quote about poetry translation, and by subtitling their collection Rights and Wrongs, which is only a binary if you believe that these terms are mutually exclusive. Continue reading

Dictionary of Literary Biography: Chinese Poets since 1949 review

MCLC Resource Center is pleased to announce publication of Jenn Marie Nunes’ review of Dictionary of Literary Biography: Chinese Poets since 1949, edited by Christopher Lupke and Thomas Moran. The review appears below and at its online home: https://u.osu.edu/mclc/book-reviews/dlb-chinese-poets-since-1949/.

Kirk Denton, MCLC

Dictionary of Literary Biography:
Chinese Poets since 1949

Edited by Christopher Lupke and Thomas Moran


Reviewed by Jenn Marie Nunes

MCLC Resource Center Publication (Copyright October, 2021)


Christopher Lupke and Thomas Moran, eds., Dictionary of Literary Biography: Chinese Poets Since 1949, Volume 387. Farmington Hills, MI: Gale, A Cengage Company, 2021. 461 pages. ISBN 9781410395948 (hardcover)

This volume of the Dictionary of Literary Biography presents an engaging selection of contemporary Chinese poets (see here for complete table of contents), compiled for anyone interested in compact and yet detailed introductions to those poets’ lives. In terms of selection, Chinese Poets Since 1949 (CPS) focuses on award-winning literary figures who have made well-documented contributions to contemporary Chinese poetics from various places inside and outside of official poetry arena(s) and along the spectrum from, to borrow Maghiel van Crevel’s terms, “elevated” to “earthly” (and otherwise experimental ideologies and aesthetics). Moreover, in defining “Chinese poets,” editors Christopher Lupke and Thomas Moran look beyond the geo-political border of the Chinese state and include those who write in Chinese language and are located in Taiwan and Hong Kong (although here the volume comes up a little short). The editors clarify that this is not meant to imply anything about the political relationship between these geographical areas, but they are also careful to emphasize that the poetic traditions in these three places “have developed distinctive characteristics, even while sharing a heritage and influencing one another” (xxi). As such, this is a text that pushes gently in the direction of Sinophone literary studies. Continue reading