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Premodern Chinese Texts in Western Translation
Volume Editors: Leo Tak-hung Chan and Zong-qi Cai
This collected volume focuses on the history of Western translation of premodern Chinese texts from the seventeenth to the twentieth century. Divided into three parts, nine chapters feature close readings of translated texts, micro-studies of how three translations came into being, and broad-based surveys that inquire into the causes of historical change. Among the specific questions addressed are: What stylistic, generic, and discursive permutations were undergone by Chinese texts as they crossed linguistic borders? Who were the main agents in this centuries-long effort to transmit Chinese culture to the West? How did readership considerations affect the form that particular translations take? More generally, the contributors are concerned with the relevance of current research paradigms, like those of World Literature, transcultural reception, and the rewriting of translation history.
Editor / Translator: Stuart Robson
Contributor: Hadi Sidomulyo
Javanese, a major language of Southeast Asia, possesses a little-known literature, occurring in various phases, Old, Middle and Modern. This publication presents a remarkable example, from the poetical literature of Middle Javanese, in an edited text with English translation and an extensive commentary. The aim is to acquaint a wider audience with this literature, in the hope of drawing attention to its fascinating qualities. Set principally in the Singhasari area of East Java, the narrative follows the journey of the lovers, Pañji Margasmara and Ken Candrasari, offering a glimpse of the beauty of the Javanese landscape in the 15th century. The cultural, historical and archaeological details preserved in the text help to shed light on the closing years of Majapahit, a largely unexplored period in Javanese history, before the age of Islam.
Volume Editors: Zong-qi Cai and Stephen Roddy
During much of China’s tumultuous 20th century, May 4th and Maoist iconoclasts regarded their classical literary heritage as a burden to be dislodged in the quest for modernization. This volume demonstrates how the traditions that had deeply impressed earlier generations of Western writers like Goethe and Voltaire did not lose their lustre; to the contrary, a fascination with these past riches sprouted with renewed vigour among Euro-American poets, novelists, and other cultural figures after the fall of imperial China in 1911. From Petrograd to Paris, and from São Paolo to San Francisco, China’s premodern poetry, theatre, essays, and fiction inspired numerous prominent writers and intellectuals. The contributors survey the fruits of this engagement in multiple Western languages and nations.
Translation, Reception, and Comparison
Volume Editors: Thomas J. Sienkewicz and Jinyu Liu
Ovid in China offers a fresh look at an ancient Roman author in a Chinese context and often from a Chinese perspective. The seventeen essays in this volume, by a group of international scholars, examine Ovid’s interaction with China in a broad historical context, including the arrival of Christian missionaries in 1294, the depiction of Ovidian scenes on 18th-century Chinese porcelain, the growing Chinese interest in Ovid in the early 20th century, a 21st-century collaborative project to translate Ovid’s poetry into Chinese with commentary, and comparative studies on such themes as conceptualization of time, consolation, laughter, filicide, and revenge.
Author: Peter Knapczyk

Abstract

This paper examines the changing roles and status of marṡiyah poets within hierarchies of political and religious authority during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. A direct link between the marṡiyah tradition and these institutions was a system of patronage that bound poets to the brokers of power. Although in the early 1700s marṡiyah poets were often dismissed as “inept poets,” in subsequent generations marṡiyah poets were nurtured by the patronage of political rulers and counted among the masters of Urdu literature. The Navābs of Avadh in particular, with their promotion of Shīʿī ritual in their capital Lucknow, helped to widen the audience for the marṡiyah. Such temporal rulers appropriated the marṡiyah’s wide appeal as a strategy for fostering social and cultural cohesion among an otherwise diverse population. The Urdu marṡiyah gave expression to the localized concerns and novel self-understanding of the Navābs as they broke politically and ideologically from Mughal rule. These changes in the systems of patronage for the marṡiyah and the genre’s unique association with Avadh’s political and religious project resulted in marṡiyah poets’ growing status in both literary and religious circles. As marṡiyah poets began to feature prominently in the religious life of Avadh, their authority and pious personas came to strain relations with marṡiyah poets’ more worldly patrons. By the mid-1800s, the growing power and influence of the British had undermined the traditional systems of literary patronage for the marṡiyah. But as marṡiyah poets sought out new sources of patronage, they helped extend Urdu’s popularity to distant regional centers. Across India, marṡiyah poets were instrumental in establishing networks of patronage and creating models of language and performance that were influential in Urdu literary circles well beyond the marṡiyah genre, placing such poets as Mīr Anīs and Mirzā Dabīr at the vanguard of crafting the cosmopolitan orientation of Urdu literary culture.

In: Journal of Urdu Studies
Free access
In: Journal of Chinese Humanities

Abstract

When it comes to the favorite food of the outlaws of Mount Liang, beef is the undisputed champion. The 120-chapter edition of Water Margin has nearly 50 scenes that depict the heroes feasting heartily on beef. The next most frequently evoked type of meat is mutton, but the number of times it is mentioned is only half that of beef and the relevant scenes are depicted with far less detail. Because cattle slaughter and the sale of beef were strictly forbidden during the Song dynasty, an expanding community of researchers considers this choice of food as a subtle reflection of the bandits’ defiance of law and order. However, this school of thought has yet to sufficiently take into account several elements, including the extent to which this law was enforced during the Song dynasty, when the adventures of Song Jiang and his sworn brothers took place; society’s attitude toward beef consumption during this same period; the compilation of the novel in the Ming dynasty and the author’s awareness of historical facts; and the limited presence of beef in the Song-Yuan antecedents of the novel.

Taking these points into consideration, this article reexamines the motif of beef consumption in Water Margin and the development of this theme through a historical lens. To do so, it first focuses on the legal issues pertaining to cattle slaughter and the sale of beef during the Song dynasty. Particular attention is paid to the enforcement of relevant laws and the circulation and popularity of black-market beef during this period. Then, it highlights the discrepancies between the way in which beef consumption is presented in the Ming novel and historical facts, followed by a discussion of the portrayal of meat consumption in Yuan dramas featuring Song Jiang and his gang of outlaws. In the end, by thoroughly considering the presentation of food in the developmental history of Water Margin, from Yuan dramas to the Ming novel, this article sheds light on the importance of this subject as a literary motif in medieval Chinese literature.

Open Access
In: Journal of Chinese Humanities

Abstract

Xie Lingyun was the first of China’s great nature poets. As the most celebrated poet in fifth-century China and a histrionic scion of the illustrious Xie clan of the Eastern Jin, he had cultural influence that extended beyond the literary into religion and philosophy. This article examines Xie’s poetic exploration of the concept of “return” – an important rhetorical trope throughout the history of Chinese literature. By close reading, annotating, and analyzing a selection of Xie’s poems, the article sheds light on the poet’s obsession with instability in the meaning of “return” and argues that beneath the compliant poetic surface lies a saliently dissenting voice. Xie’s distinctive imagery and ideation emerge from an intricate deployment of earlier texts, among which the Classic of Changes is of paramount importance.

Open Access
In: Journal of Chinese Humanities

Abstract

The present study traces the changing meanings of Su Shi’s Qiuchi rock in Song poetry. As an aesthetic artifact, the rock may be gifted and exchanged through literati social interactions. At a more personal level, the rock reminds Su of a mysterious dream and symbolizes a place of retreat, described as his homeland in Shu, a Daoist grotto heaven, and a utopia that is superior to Peach Blossom Spring. The rock also serves as Su’s most faithful companion in the dark days of his exile to the far south. In the poems of Southern Song poets, who experienced the trauma of the fall of northern China to the Jurchens, the rock turns into a nostalgic object but also prompts acute reflections on petrophilia as a morally and philosophically problematic passion.

Open Access
In: Journal of Chinese Humanities

The development of academic research largely depends on new materials and innovative research methodologies. In this special issue, scholars from mainland China, Hong Kong, Macau, and the US apply new approaches to the study of medieval Chinese literature. The articles in this issue focus on influential poets, such as Tao Yuanming 陶淵明 [ca. 365–427], Xie Lingyun 謝靈運 [385–433], Su Shi 蘇軾 [1037–1101], and Li Qingzhao 李清照 [1084–1155], as well as vernacular poetry and fiction, such as “bamboo branch lyrics” [zhuzhici 竹枝詞] and the Water Margin [Shuihu zhuan

Open Access
In: Journal of Chinese Humanities