Nicholas Kaldis’s The Chinese Prose Poem: A Study of Lu Xun’s Wild Grass (Yecao) is now out from Cambria Press.
Yecao 野草 (Wild Grass, a.k.a. Weeds), is a 1927 collection of twenty-three prose poems written by Lu Xun 魯迅 (1881–1936), who is China’s foremost writer of the twentieth-century. The poems, written between 1924 and 1926, were first published serially in the journal Threads of Talk from 1924 to 1927. This prose poem collection —a literary masterpiece in the eyes of many— features some of Lu Xun’s most complex and psychologically dense creative works; Lu Xun himself is purported to have said his “entire philosophy is contained in his Yecao.”
Despite the significance attributed to this collection within Lu Xun’s literary corpus, until now there has not been a single comprehensive English-language study of Yecao. Part of the reason for this considerable gap in the scholarship can be attributed to the fact that fiction has been given primacy in most literary studies of Lu Xun, and prose poetry (sanwen shi 散文詩) as a genre has generally not been well represented —if at all— in surveys, anthologies, and other collections of twentieth-century Chinese literature.
This study remedies the absence of a comprehensive English-language study of Lu Xun’s Yecao and is the perfect companion to the reading and study of Yecao. It is not only a useful reference work and bibliographical source but also an informative contribution to and dialogue with the extant scholarship. Most importantly, this study engages with the Yecao prose poems in a rigorous scholarly fashion while simultaneously allowing each prose poem to influence its reader and determine directions and conclusions made during the interaction of interpretation. This book deftly addresses in detail key aspects of context and content integral to interpreting Yecao.
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