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Chinese Shakespeares: Two Centuries of Cultural Exchange Paperback – Jun 26 2009

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 368 pages
  • Publisher: Columbia University Press (June 26 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0231148496
  • ISBN-13: 978-0231148498
  • Product Dimensions: 15 x 1.8 x 22.6 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 499 g
  • Average Customer Review: Be the first to review this item
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #3,371,236 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product Description


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

(The China Quarterly)

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.


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)

A fascinating and important study

(The Year's Work in English Studies)

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)


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)

Chinese Shakespeares is a theoretically sophisticated contribution to crosscultural adaptation studies, not to mention Shakespeare studies. It asks (and answers) the questions that do full justice to the complexity—historical, political, cultural, social, and aesthetic—of indigenizing Shakespeare in the multiple Chinese literary and performance cultures from the first Opium War to our own times.

(Linda Hutcheon, University Professor of English and Comparative Literature, University of Toronto, and author of A Theory of Adaptation)

Huang brilliantly demonstrates the extent to which East Asia explores its fascination with Shakespeare in fiction, theater, opera, cinema, and popular culture, and conversely the extent to which the rest of the world has absorbed Chinese theatrical idioms and practices. If Shakespeare proverbially belongs to the whole world, we can also gain invaluable insight from this study as to how a paradoxical sense of belonging and betrayal is configured chronologically and spatially. Imaginations about China function in Shakespearean performances in mainland China, in Taiwan, and around the globe. What Walter Benjamin has called 'the aestheticization of politics' becomes here the focus of an absorbing and unforgettable account.

(David Bevington, Phyllis Fay Horton Distinguished Professor Emeritus, University of Chicago, author of Shakespeare: The Seven Ages of Human Experience)

Anyone interested in modern and contemporary China and its performance culture in global contexts must read this book. Huang has gone where few have gone before: the reception and performance of Shakespeare in the Chinese-speaking world during the twentieth century. With insightful analysis of intercultural relationships and East-West comparative theater studies, this meticulous and thorough study breaks new ground in the understanding of Chinese performance culture.

(Xiaomei Chen, professor of Chinese literature, University of California, Davis, and author of Occidentalism and Acting the Right Part)

Astonishing in breadth and depth, this study establishes Alexander C. Y. Huang as the world's preeminent authority on Chinese Shakespeares. Its theoretical sophistication and careful analysis of Chinese adaptations in global and local contexts set a new standard for the topic that is not likely to be equaled for decades. This is the book that so many of us have been waiting for, surpassing everything on the topic with its sustained theoretical reflection on the dynamics of intercultural appropriation, its depth of research into Chinese texts, and its command of both Shakespeare scholarship as well as the most recent criticism on intercultural performance.

(Timothy Billings, Middlebury College, and author of Glossing Shakespeare: Reading the Plays from the Bottom of the Page)

Chinese Shakespeares is not just another book on Shakespeare. It is a very absorbing account of intercultural appropriations and engagements that spans a century and a half of cultural flows across the Sinophone world and beyond. Written in a fluid and lucid prose, the book contributes to our understanding of the evolving patterns of globalization and localization in the realm of art, culture, and intellectual subjectivity.

(Haiyan Lee, Stanford University, author of Revolution of the Heart: A Genealogy of Love in China, 1900-1950)

This book makes not only a groundbreaking but formative contribution to what is at this time a newly-emerging field of study in the English-speaking world. No one working in this field in the future will be able to proceed without seriously reckoning with all that Alexander C. Y. Huang has put into play.

(Tom Cartelli, Muhlenberg College, and coauthor of New Wave Shakespear on Screen)

Chinese Shakespeares demonstrates why the study of Shakespeare in Chinese contexts is a vital topic of such significance.... [Huang's] meticulously researched and thoughtfully constructed study... has turned this skeptic into a believer, and I invite any scholar who is interested -- or not interested -- in this topic to read Huang's thought-provoking volume.

(John B. Weinstein Journal of Asian Studies)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) HASH(0xa1366ac8) out of 5 stars 5 reviews
9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0xa14bc930) out of 5 stars Enlightening Work on China, Shakespeare, and the Movement of Culture Aug. 15 2009
By Ilyas O. Abukar - Published on
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
HASH(0xa14bcbc4) out of 5 stars Setting a new direction for performance studies Aug. 21 2009
By Khaki - Published on
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
HASH(0xa115c8e8) out of 5 stars A groundbreaking study of Shakespeare in Asia Aug. 30 2009
By Hsiao Hui Yang - Published on
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.
HASH(0xa182096c) out of 5 stars A feat of scholarly and artistic vision! April 19 2012
By Sabina Knight - Published on
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!
HASH(0xa3106cf0) out of 5 stars more of Asia April 6 2014
By Robert J. O'Brien - Published on
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.