Editor's Note

By Stalling, Jonathan | Chinese Literature Today, Summer 2010 | Go to article overview

Editor's Note


Stalling, Jonathan, Chinese Literature Today


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As the world enters what many have already begun calling the Pacific Era, it is more important than ever for Westerners to gain a better understanding of Chinese culture, history, and perspectives. Chinese Literature Today, a new title from the award-winning World Literature Today organization, creates an important channel of access to China through literary studies. Like its parent journal, CLT offers the inquisitive reader a wide range of contemporary fiction, poetry, literary essays, and criticism. Our editorial teams in the U.S. and China are working closely with translators, authors, and scholars to answer pressing questions of our time: How has Chinese literature responded to China's modernization? How does Chinese literature compare with other national traditions? What are Chinese literature's central debates, concerns, and trends? What is Chinese literature today?

WLT has been addressing these very questions since 1935 when it published Chih Meng's "The New Literature of Changing China," and over the years WLT has published hundreds of essays and book reviews about Chinese literature and culture. Over the last several years, however, this engagement has grown stronger as WLT and the University of Oklahoma have developed an unprecedented partnership with Beijing Normal University's College of Chinese Language and Literature, culminating in the new Chinese edition of World Literature Today and a series of conferences and symposia in Beijing in 2007, 2008, and 2010. In each instance, numerous writers and scholars from China and the West have identified the need for quality translations of Chinese literature to engender greater appreciation of Chinese literature in the world. Simply put, only a small fraction of what is being written, read, and discussed in China ever appears in English. There are also numerous scholars, especially in China, who feel that Westerners may never know enough about China's cultural memory to truly understand or appreciate Chinese literature, and many have written off "world literature" as a self-serving Western idea.

CLT exists owing to the belief that Western readers can, in fact, understand important developments in Chinese literature. But to encourage this understanding, Westerners need a publication that offers readers the contextual materials required to open meanings hidden by the lack of historical, cultural, or linguistic knowledge in the West. …

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