The Organization of Distance

Poetry, Translation, Chineseness

Series:

Lucas Klein

What makes a Chinese poem “Chinese”? Some call modern Chinese poetry insufficiently Chinese, saying it is so influenced by foreign texts that it has lost the essence of Chinese culture as known in premodern poetry. Yet that argument overlooks how premodern regulated verse was itself created in imitation of foreign poetics. Looking at Bian Zhilin and Yang Lian in the twentieth century alongside medieval Chinese poets such as Wang Wei, Du Fu, and Li Shangyin, The Organization of Distance applies the notions of foreignization and nativization to Chinese poetry to argue that the impression of poetic Chineseness has long been a product of translation, from forces both abroad and in the past.