Academic journal article The Mailer Review

Norman Mailer in China: Criticism and Translation

Academic journal article The Mailer Review

Norman Mailer in China: Criticism and Translation

Article excerpt

With the publication of the naked and the dead, Norman Mailer became a major American writer and immediately drew attention from critics in America. But it was not until thirty years later when the second flowering wave of the Mailer criticism emerged in America and Chinese critics began to pay attention to Mailer. Indeed, it was near the end of the 1970s that Norman Mailer came into the Chinese critical world. In 1979, Fan Lu published in Literature, History and Philosophy an article, "On Norman Mailer's 'The White Negro,'" and thereby introduced the Chinese reader to Norman Mailer for the first time and started Mailer criticism in China. Later in the same year, Qizhan Wang, in his article, "Existentialism and Contemporary American Novel," published in Foreign Literature Studies, also made a brief introduction to Mailer and his writing in relation to existentialism. Ever since then, for more than forty years, Mailer has been drawing attention from Chinese readers and critics, and so far, there have been two books, three PhD dissertations and ten Master of Arts theses on Mailer and his works, as well as more than one hundred scholarly and semi-scholarly articles on or related to Mailer and his works in addition to eight books that have been translated into Chinese: The Naked and the Dead, The Deer Park, An American Dream, The Armies of the Night, The Executioner's Song, Tough Guys Don t Dance, Marilyn Monroe and The Castle in the Forest.

Although Mailer came into the Chinese critical world in 1979, by the 1980s, there were not many serious publications on his works. In 1980, two articles related to Mailer and his works were published. One, published in Foreign Literatures Recent Developments, offered a short introduction to Mailer's writing. The other, entitled "The So-called 'Non-Fiction,'" published in the Readings Magazine, also introduced Mailer's nonfiction writing.

In 1981, three articles on or related to Mailer and his works were published. Fan Lu, in his "The American Literary Critic Hassan on American Literature," published in Translations, offered a short introduction to Mailer and his writings. Yue Yun's "Norman Mailer on Writing," published in Foreign Literature Studies, was the first article wholly concerned with Mailer since Fan Lu's "On Norman Mailer's 'The White Negro,'" published in 1979. It introduced Mailer's views on writing to Chinese readers. Dingshan Dong, in his "Supplements to Norman Mailer and Jack Abbott's In the Belly of the Beast," published in the Readings, also gave a very short introduction to Mailer in relation to Jack Abbott.

The year of 1982 saw no publication on Mailer and his work in China, but in 1983, three articles were published on Mailer and his works: one was concerned with An American Dream and the other two with Ancient Evenings. Mansu Qian published in Readings an article, "From Daydream to Nightmare: Norman Mailer's An American Dream," which was the first scholarly article devoted to the study of Mailer's fiction. It articulated a thematic exploration of Mailer's An American Dream, arguing that the novel revealed "the complicity between the American political power and the underworld society," and that "some characters and plots in the novel are symbolic of the upper class and the lower class in American society." Dingshan Dong published in Readings an article, "Ancient Evenings: On Norman Mailer and His New Work," which was an exclusive study of Mailer's then new novel, Ancient Evenings. It offered an introduction to Mailer's Ancient Evenings, another significant work after The Executioner's Song. Zi Zhong also published an article, "Norman Mailer's Ancient Evenings" which offered a brief introduction to the Egyptian narrative.

The following two years, 1984-1985, once again witnessed the absence of Mailer from the Chinese critical world. Then, in 1986 two articles related to Mailer appeared. One is Xu Xin's "Notes on the Image of Schlegel in Jewish Literature," which examined the image of Schlegel in Mailer's writings. …

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