Translingual Practice: Literature, National Culture, and Translated Modernity--China, 1900-1937

Translingual Practice: Literature, National Culture, and Translated Modernity--China, 1900-1937

Translingual Practice: Literature, National Culture, and Translated Modernity--China, 1900-1937

Translingual Practice: Literature, National Culture, and Translated Modernity--China, 1900-1937

Synopsis

This study - bridging contemporary theory, Chinese history, comparative literature, and culture studies - analyzes the historical interactions among China, Japan, and the West in terms of "translingual practice". By this term, the author refers to the process by which new words, meanings, discourses, and modes of representation arose, circulated, and acquired legitimacy in early modern China as it contacted/collided with European/Japanese languages and literatures. In reexamining the rise of modern Chinese literature in this context, the book asks three central questions: How did "modernity" and "the West" become legitimized in May Fourth literary discourse? What happened to native agency in this complex process of legitimation? How did the Chinese national culture imagine and interpret its own moment of unfolding? After the first chapter, which deals with the theoretical issues, ensuing chapters treat particular instances of translingual practice such as national character, individualism, stylistic innovations, first-person narration, and canon formation.

Excerpt

Are languages incommensurate? If so, how do people establish and maintain hypothetical equivalences between words and their meanings? What does it mean to translate one culture into the language of another on the basis of commonly perceived equivalences? For instance, can we talk, or stop talking, about "modernity" across the East-West divide without subjecting the experience of the one to representations, translations, or interpretations by the other? Who fixes and polices the borders between the two? Are the borders easily crossed? Is it possible to have reliable comparative categories on universal or transhistorical grounds?

I propose the idea of "translingual practice" in this book to raise the possibility of rethinking cross-cultural interpretation and forms of linguistic mediation between East and West. Over the past two decades or so, there has been no lack of sophisticated discussions of postcoloniality, cultures, identities, self and other, and so on, but these discussions have reached the point where it becomes unthinkable to continue treating the concrete language issue in cross-cultural scholarship as a superfluity or merely part of a critique of the effects of colonialism and imperialism. I find the work of postcolonial theorists very stimulating and am indebted to the interesting new ways of thinking their scholarship has opened up. At the same time, my research in modern Chinese history and literature has led me to confront phenomena and problems that cannot easily be brought under the postcolonial paradigm of Western domination and native resistance. I am struck by the irony that, in the very act of criticizing Western domination, one often ends up reifying the power of the . . .

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.