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Chinese Shakespeares: Two Centuries of Cultural Exchange [Paperback]

Alexander C. Y. Huang

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Book Description

June 26 2009 Global Chinese Culture

For close to two hundred years, the ideas of Shakespeare have inspired incredible work in the literature, fiction, theater, and cinema of China, Taiwan, and Hong Kong. From the novels of Lao She and Lin Shu to Lu Xun's search for a Chinese "Shakespeare," and from Feng Xiaogang's martial arts films to labor camp memoirs, Soviet-Chinese theater, Chinese opera in Europe, and silent film, Shakespeare has been put to work in unexpected places, yielding a rich trove of transnational imagery and paradoxical citations in popular and political culture.

Chinese Shakespeares is the first book to concentrate on both Shakespearean performance and Shakespeare's appearance in Sinophone culture and their ambiguous relationship to the postcolonial question. Substantiated by case studies of major cultural events and texts from the first Opium War in 1839 to our times, Chinese Shakespeares theorizes competing visions of "China" and "Shakespeare" in the global cultural marketplace and challenges the logic of fidelity-based criticism and the myth of cultural exclusivity. In his critique of the locality and ideological investments of authenticity in nationalism, modernity, Marxism, and personal identities, Huang reveals the truly transformative power of Chinese Shakespeares.


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Review

The best of a new generation of scholarship based on rigorous archival research that moves the field in significant new directions.

(The China Quarterly 1900-01-00)

Among the most innovative monographs this year is Chinese Shakespeares. Particularly exciting is Huang's emphasis on the two-way exchange between Shakespeare and China. His examples are temporally, geographically, and ideologically diverse. By looking to the local, Huang is able to question the terms of current cross-cultural discourse -- to ask whether hybridity is necessarily progressive, to make an important distinction between universalizing and globalizing impulses, to insist on the plurality and individuality of any given audience.

(SEL Studies in English Literature 1500-1900)

In the recent spate of scholarship on Shakespeare... Huang's volume stands out as being particularly valuable,... offering a model for theorizing cross-cultural entanglements that goes beyond its specific subject matter.

(Choice)

A splendid book,... well written and illustrated. Highly infused with theory, it adds to our understanding of the ways in which great cultures interpenetrate and enrich each other. It is a truly path-breaking book. I recommend it strongly not only to all those interested in Chinese culture but those interested in theatre and drama and the many ways in which the performing arts inform societies and cultures.

(MCLC: Modern Chinese Literature and Culture)

This book maps new territory for the most promising project in comparative literature today.... Remarkable not only for its sophistication but also for its scholarly depth, Chinese Shakespeares is a landmark in the renewal of comparative literature as a discipline.

(citation from the Modern Language Association's Aldo and Jeanne Scaglione Prize for Comparative Literary studies)

Chinese Shakespeares is a critically sophisticated study that is grounded in firsthand knowledge of every major stage production, film, and critical article on the subject of Shakespeare in China.

(Charles Ross Comparative Literature Studies 1900-01-00)

A fascinating and important study

(The Year's Work in English Studies 1900-01-00)

His keen observations on intercultural exchange and critique of prevailing discourses make the book relevant not only to scholars and students of sinophone Shakespeare but also to Shakespeareans exploring the Bard's afterlife in various fields: dissemination, modernization, localization, translation, transplantation, appropriation, and intercultural or cross-media adaptation.

(Bi-qi Beatrice Lei Modern Language Quarterly)

His scholarship is meticulous, wide-ranging, and very well presented.

(Theatre Journal)

Alexander Huang has done a masterly job.... The book gives us an excellent picture of the various takes on Shakespeare, as well as inroads to understanding the complicated national, global, and personal meanings that are part of the Shakespeare phenomenon.

(Wendy Larson Modern Philology 1900-01-00)

Review

Alexander Huang has tackled one of the most exciting areas in Chinese and comparative cultural studies. Seen through the prism of Chinese encounters with Shakespeare and Shakespearean theatre, his book covers a wide range of issues: the dynamics of transculturation, the technology of media and reproduction, and the politics of theater. Chinese Shakespeares is a fascinating study of how, throughout the crucial moments in modern history, the Chinese imagined, appropriated, and re-oriented Shakespeare.

(David Der-wei Wang, Edward C. Henderson Professor of Chinese Literature, Harvard University, and author of The Monster That Is History)

Inside This Book (Learn More)
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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index | Back Cover
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Amazon.com: 5.0 out of 5 stars  5 reviews
9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Enlightening Work on China, Shakespeare, and the Movement of Culture Aug. 15 2009
By Ilyas O. Abukar - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
I really enjoyed Alexander Huang's Chinese Shakespeares: Two Centuries of Cultural Exchange. This work is an exciting read not only for students of Comparative Literature but also anyone interested in China, English colonial legacy in the East, and the movement, appropriation and transformations of ideas, concepts, and culture. The author explores the form the rewriting and theatrical performances of William Shakespeare's plays take in China. What does Shakespeare look like in China and from a Chinese perspective, and what does his prevalent presence in the East signfy in terms of national culture? What does Shakespeare have to do with China and are Chinese Shakespeares authentically Chinese or even true to Shakespeare? One important note that I have taken from this study stresses that that appropriation, specifically that of Shakepeare in China, is a dailogue which takes from and gives to both sides; that Shakespeare has not only given to China but also Chinese performances (modified or otherwise) of the plays enrich Shakespare. However it isn't always seen as such and the result is the marginalization of non-Anglophone Shakespeares in the West. But this is only the tip of the iceberg, pick up this book for a more indepth analysis of the captivating yet historically misunderstood space between China and the West via Shakespeare.
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Setting a new direction for performance studies Aug. 21 2009
By Khaki - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
Chinese Shakespeares is a fascinating study of Chinese and Western conceptions of Shakespeare and China. The book is well suited for students, researchers or anyone who is interested in Shakespeare's works and Chinese culture. The author goes beyond the tired notions of the original and the derivative, and takes a crucial step toward the reinvention of interpretative energy in cross-cultural studies. A wide range of genres such as fiction, translation, film, and theater are used to explore questions concerning locality, visual culture, authenticity, racial identity and cultural ownership. The select chronology at the end of the book is particularly useful to readers who would like to draw connections between the performances of local and worldwide Shakespeare, and the historical events.
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A groundbreaking study of Shakespeare in Asia Aug. 30 2009
By Hsiao Hui Yang - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
This is a groundbreaking study of Shakespeare and Chinese performance. In the twenty-first century, localization and globalization obliges us to reexamine European heritage in a different context. Alexander Huang reassesses the history of Shakespeare in China, exploring the process and significant moments of cultural exchanges. He carefully constructs the diverse narratives of reinterpretation of Shakespeare under Chinese politics of culture in Chinese localities. I find this book not only informative but also inspiring for my research. Huang observes an evolution of cultural interactions in a chronological order. This scholarly work helps me to better understand the historical experience of performers, rewriters and audiences. I admire Huang's conscientious effort and incredible patience in sorting out diverse historical documents in this book. This study makes many fascinating arguments which have enabled me to give up my prejudice and to look at cross-cultural performance with open mind.
5.0 out of 5 stars more of Asia April 6 2014
By Robert J. O'Brien - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Now we go beyond China and into Japan. Now we are not fixed into English, and this book shows that we can re-thinking about Shakespeare's works.
5.0 out of 5 stars A feat of scholarly and artistic vision! April 19 2012
By Sabina Knight - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
Grounded in historical and market contexts, this book argues convincingly for the transformative power of rewritings. I loved the author's attention to the visual beauty of theater and film. Huang charts new directions for contemporary theory, film, and performance studies. An exemplar of what comparative literature can be!
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