Turner’s Lu Xun in Seedings

seedings1-f-coverIssue 1 of the new journal Seedings is now out, featuring a great collection of work by some of English’s best poets: Rachel Blau DuPlessis, Nathaniel Tarn, Rosmarie Waldrop, Will Alexander… and translators: Keith Waldrop (Paul Verlaine), Cole Swensen (Jaime Montestrela), Johannes Göransson (Sara Tuss Efrik)…

Worth mention on this blog are the three new translations by Matt Turner of prose poems by Lu Xun 魯迅. From “Waking” 一覺:

Planes on a mission to drop bombs, like the start of class at school every morning, fly over Beijing. Everytime I hear the sound of their parts pound the air I repeatedly feel a light tension, as though witnessing a “death” raid. But at the same time intensely feeling the “birth” of existence.


Click the image above to access the issue.

Jenne on China’s Literary Lushes


“They feast and drink merrily despite no accompaniment of strings or flutes. When somebody wins a game or a match of chess, they mark up their scores with drink and raise a cheerful din sitting or standing. The guests are enjoying themselves. In their midst sits an elderly man with white hair, totally relaxed and at ease. That is the governor, already half drunk…The governor can share his enjoyment with others when he is in his cups, and sober again can write an essay about it. Who is this governor? He is Ouyang Xiu.”

In addition to Ouyang Xiu 歐陽修, the article mentions Confucius 孔子, Li Bai 李白, Du Fu 杜甫, and Lu Xun’s Kong Yiji 孔乙己.

Nick Kaldis’s The Chinese Prose Poem

Front Cover The Chinese Prose Poem:  A Study of Lu Xun's  <i>Wild Grass</i> (<i>Yecao</i>)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.

For further information, click the image above.

Lu Xun and East Asia–an International Conference at Harvard

Friday, April 5 & Saturday, April 6, 2013
CGIS South, Tsai Auditorium (S010), 1730 Cambridge Street, Harvard University

Lucas Klein on Daniel Dooghan’s Literary Cartographies: Lu Xun and the Production of World Literature

Lu Xun and World LiteratureDissertation Reviews has posted my review of Daniel Dooghan’s Literary Cartographies: Lu Xun and the Production of World Literature. Here’s how it begins:

In his entry in the 2004 report on the state of the discipline, Comparative Literature in an Age of Globalization, David Damrosch, doyen of world literature studies, reproduces a table showing the MLA citation index of Lu Xun 鲁迅 (1881 – 1936) over the previous four decades. According this bibliography, Lu Xun was referred to in 3 articles between 1964 and 1973, in 12 articles from 1974 to 1983, in 19 articles from 1984 to 1993, and in 22 articles between 1994 and 2003 (David Damrosch, “World Literature in a Postcanonical, Hypercanonical Age,” in Comparative Literature in an Age of Globalization. Haun Saussy (ed.). Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2006, p. 49). Without question, in what may be the disciplinary “age of world literature” even more than “an age of globalization,” Lu Xun has entered into a certain kind of canonicity. Investigating and interrogating the specifics of that canonicity, and the ways in which Lu Xun is framed, understood, translated, and transformed via such canonicity, is the subject of Daniel Dooghan’s fascinating, revealing, and provocative dissertation, Literary Cartographies: Lu Xun and the Production of World Literature (University of Minnesota, 2011).

Renditions Special Issue: Chinese Science Fiction: Late Qing and the Contemporary

The next issue of Renditions, no. 77/78 (Spring and Autumn of 2012), a special issue on late Qing and contemporary science fiction, is now available for order, guest edited by Mingwei Song 宋明煒. He writes:

As a popular genre, science fiction has energized modern Chinese literature by evoking an array of sensations ranging from the grotesque to the sublime, from the utopian to the apocalyptic, and from the human to the post-human. It mingles nationalism with fantasy, sharpens social criticism with an acute awareness of China’s potential for further reform as well as its limitations, and envelops political consciousness in scientific discourses on the power of technology or the technology of power. Science fiction today both echoes and complicates the late Qing writers’ vision of China’s future and the transformation of human society.

Juxtaposing writings from the first two decades of successive centuries has proven to be a meaningful project. Both epochs are characterized by heightened aspiration for change as well as by deep anxieties about China’s future. A comparative reading of the stories from the late Qing and the contemporary sheds light on their common themes. Yet recapitulations of the earlier age’s literary motifs also lead to self-reflexive variations that point to the latter period’s uniqueness.

The history of Chinese science fiction has never been continuous. Only three short booms can be identified: the last decade of the Qing dynasty (1902-1911); the first four years of the New Era (1978-1982); and the beginning of the twenty-first century. These booms alternated with long dormant periods. This Renditions special issue showcases representative works of Chinese science fiction from its first and latest booms, focusing on the late Qing and the contemporary. An earlier anthology Science Fiction from China (New York: Praeger, 1989), edited by Wu Dingbo and Patrick D. Murphy, introduced English readers to the second generation of Chinese science fiction writers.

The works selected have all been translated into English for the first time. This special issue is also the first English-language collection of Chinese science fiction since the publication of Wu and Murphy’s anthology in 1989. The thirteen pieces included are divided into two groups: the first four are stories and novel excerpts from the first decade of Chinese science fiction’s development; the other nine pieces are recent works by contemporary authors. I will welcome any comments and criticism.

Here’s the Table of Contents:

Preface: Mingwei Song

Part One: The Early Twentieth Century

Xu Nianci, “New Tales of Mr. Braggadocio” (Translated by Nathaniel Isaacson) 徐念慈: 新法螺先生譚

Wu Jianren, New Story of the Stone: excerpts (Translated by Sterling Swallow) 吳趼人:新石頭記(節選)

Louise Strong, “The Art of Creating Humanity” (Translated by Suozi [Lu Xun]; Re-translated by Carlos Rojas) 索子[魯迅]: 造人朮

Xu Zhuodai, “The Secret Room” (Translated by Christopher Rea) 徐卓呆: 秘密室

Part Two: The Early Twenty First Century

Liu Cixin, “The Poetry Cloud” (Translated by Chi-yin Ip and Cheuk Wong) 劉慈欣: 詩雲

Liu Cixin, “The Village Schoolteacher” (Translated by Christopher Elford and Jiang Chenxin) 劉慈欣: 鄉村教師

Han Song, “The Passengers and the Creator” (Translated by Nathaniel Isaacson) 韓松: 乘客與創造者

Wang Jinkang, “The Reincarnated Giant” (Translated by Carlos Rojas) 王晉康:轉生的巨人

La La, “The Radio Waves That Never Die” (Translated by Petula Parris-Huang) 拉拉: 永不消逝的電波

Zhao Haihong, “1923-a Fantasy” (Translated by Nicky Narman and Pang Zhaoxia) 趙海虹: 一九二三年科幻故事

Chi Hui, “The Rainforest” (Translated by Jie Li) 遲卉: 雨林

Fei Dao, “The Demon’s Head” (Translated by David Hull) 飛氘: 魔鬼的頭顱

Xia Jia, “The Demon-Enslaving Flask” (Translated by Linda Rui Feng) 夏笳: 関妖精的瓶子

Chris Livaccari on Overcoming Misconceptions about China

chinaSalon.com posted an interview with Chris Livaccari of the Asia Society (New York) with a guided reading list of how to overcome misconceptions about China. Here’s how he begins his responses:

I recently asked some school kids, “If you had the opportunity to go to China today, what do you think you would see?” One of the students said there would be a lot of lanterns everywhere, a lot of red, and a lot of dragons. I thought, “Wow. If this kid stepped into Shanghai in 2012, he would really be bowled over.”

The books he mentions are Robert Ramsey’s The Languages of China, Joanna Waley-Cohen’s The Sextants of Beijing, Zhuangzi 莊子 as translated by Victor Mair (called Wandering on the Way), the stories of Lu Xun 魯迅 (the article links to William Lyell’s translations), and The Story of the Stone 石頭記 by Cao Xueqin 曹雪芹 and translated by David Hawkes and John Minford. Not surprisingly, his list contains no poetry. Perhaps one day somebody will compile a list like this and Xi Chuan will be on it.

Paul Mason’s top 10 books about China

Mine in north-west ChinaEnglish novelist and Newsnight economics editor Paul Mason has compiled a top-ten list of books on China he found helpful for his novel Rare Earth (here’s a review of the novel by scholar-translator Julia Lovell), comprising five works of fiction in translation (including Lu Xun 魯迅, Mo Yan 莫言, Gao Xingjian 高行健, Wang Xiaobo 王小波, and The Plum in the Golden Vase 金瓶梅–and he mentions the translators!) and five works of social science or historical or literary scholarship (including a work by friend and follower of this blog, Charles Laughlin).

It’s an interesting list. I’m glad to see literature in translation so well represented. As a novelist, it makes sense that Mason would be so drawn to fiction, but I wonder what it would take for works of Chinese poetry to make it onto such a list. Certainly I think Xi Chuan can be helpful for readers looking to know more about China, though of course the instruction does not travel in direct lines.