Synopses & Reviews
This is the first systematic study of the vernacular movement in modern Chinese literature of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries from the perspective of comparative literature. Drawing on the experiences of vernacular movements in other times and societies (Italian, French, German, English, Japanese, Indian, Arabic, Turkish, Vietnamese), and on the concept of world literature, this book is a new and radical rereading of the origins of modern Chinese literature. Examining the Chinese literary revolution in the context of vernacularization in Renaissance Europe, the genbun itchi movement in Meiji Japan, modern Turkish language reform, and the revival of classical Hebrew in modern Israeli society, this book situates the "triumph" of the vernacular in modern China in a truly global comparative setting.
"Comparative literature is not just an academic specialization--it contributes to the creation of the vernacular or national literatures to which it is often opposed. Gang Zhou's history of persons, influences and polemics surrounding the emergence of modern Chinese literature shows the process at work, in all its unpredictable detail."--Haun Saussy, Bird White Housum Professor of Comparative Literature, Yale University
"Zhou's study is the best way to enter the origin of modern Chinese language and literature in our global world. It offers a refreshing view from the outside, i.e. from world literature coupled with a rich knowledge of many of the vernacular movements in different geopolitical contexts."--Wolfgang Kubin, Professor of Chinese Language and History, University of Bonn
"Placing the Modern Chinese Vernacular in Transnational Literature is the most important study of the rise of the Chinese vernacular language as a literary language yet written in English. Inherently comparative, with side-glances and examples from the wide range of other vernaculars and their rehabilitation from Dante to the age of nationalism, the book is a subtle and critical analysis of what drove some writers to the 'new' literary language, what deterred others, and what problems each group faced. A new voice in American comparative literature in her most impressive critical debut."--Sander L. Gilman, Distinguished Professor of the Liberal Arts and Sciences, Emory University
1895-1925 was a critical historical period in Chinese literary history, when" baihua" (the vernacular) was elevated to become the national language and "wenyan" (classical Chinese) was eliminated from many literary practices, overturning the long-established linguistic hierarchy. This is the first book to concentrate not only on the triumph of the vernacular in modern China but also on the critical role of the rise of the vernacular in world literature, invoking parallel cases from countries throughout Europe and Asia.
About the Author
Gang Zhou is an Assistant Professor of Chinese at Louisiana State University. She has published in PMLA and MLN, among others and is the co-editor of Other Renaissances: A New Approach to World Literature.
Table of Contents
Introduction * The Language of Utopia * The Chinese Renaissance * The Shaky House * “The Vernacular Only” Writing Mode * Epilogue