Worlds Apart: Recent Chinese Writing and Its Audiences

Worlds Apart: Recent Chinese Writing and Its Audiences

Worlds Apart: Recent Chinese Writing and Its Audiences

Worlds Apart: Recent Chinese Writing and Its Audiences

Synopsis

Thirteen selected papers from an international conference on contemporary Chinese literature held near Gunzburg, Bavaria, in June-July 1986 constitute both a record of literary writings from the PRC, Hong Kong, and Taiwan, as well as an overview of the broader international role of Chinese writing i

Excerpt

Howard Goldblatt

On June 30, 1986, a week-long international conference on contemporary Chinese literature opened in Schloss Reisensburg, a centuries-old castle near the Bavarian town of Günzburg. Announced as a conference on "The Commonwealth of Chinese Literature" by its organizers, professors Helmut Martin of the Ruhr-Universität, Bochum, and Joseph S. M. Lau of the University of Wisconsin, Madison, the gathering brought together sixty-five scholars, writers, and critics, as well as a number of journalists, graduate students, and other interested parties from nearly twenty countries and locales. Owing to the nature and scope of this significant gathering, the participants were prepared for a major intellectual "happening" and a rewarding, perhaps even heated, exchange of ideas. Thanks again to Professor Martin, his colleagues and assistants, and to the extent of preparation by the participants, it exceeded everyone's expectations.

The current volume, which includes thirteen of the papers presented, is representative of the achievements of the conference. It comprises both a contemporary and historical scorecard (partial, of course) of literary writings from some of the geographical locales where this literature is written, published, and read, as well as an overview of the broader international role of Chinese writing in translation.

During the selection and editing process, it became clear that the "commonwealth" issue, which strikes not only an internationalist theme but also a hopeful one, may not have been borne out by either the explicit or implicit conclusions of the papers as a whole, and of the discussions to which they gave rise. As Marián Gálik shows in his article concerning studies of modern Chinese literature, the term "commonwealth" may well be inappropriate for both semantic and geopolitical reasons. Although the bulk of Gálik's study deals with research on pre-1949 literature, he draws our attention to the probably untenable concept of "commonwealth," then or now, preferring the term "community" instead, which "expresses the identity of character . . .

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