Transnationalism and Translation in Modern Chinese, English, French and Japanese Literatures

Transnationalism and Translation in Modern Chinese, English, French and Japanese Literatures

By Ryan Johnson

Anthem Studies in Global English Literatures

Drawing on the latest work in comparative philosophy and comparative literature, ‘Transnationalism and Translation in Modern Chinese, English, French and Japanese Literatures’ presents an innovative model of transnational literary exchanges.

PDF, 250 Pages


November 2020

£25.00, $40.00

EPUB, 250 Pages


November 2020

£25.00, $40.00

  • About This Book
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About This Book

‘Transnationalism and Translation in Modern Chinese, English, French and Japanese Literatures’ addresses several important questions in the fields of modern, comparative and world literatures. At a time when ‘weak theory’ and transnationalism are becoming increasingly pressing topics, the volume considers the utility of philosophical logic, literary worlds and analytic Asian philosophy in understanding world literature. In doing so, it investigates the ways in which Chinese, English, French and Japanese writers, eager to tackle the challenges of modernity, gazed both across the Eurasian landmass and back in time to their own traditions.

‘Transnationalism and Translation in Modern Chinese, English, French and Japanese Literatures’ contends that world literature comprises many smaller literary worlds that are founded upon and made to conform with the deep-level ontological assumptions of their native traditions. The translation of texts across times and cultures introduces new logical possibilities to literary traditions and the writers who sustain them. Yet each translation also amounts to the creation of a new literary world in which the ontological assumptions of the original are made to cohere according to the possibilities afforded by the culture into which the text is translated. This clash of ontologies, often overlooked in world literary studies, forms the basis of modern translational literature.

This book presents four comparative case studies. It begins with Ted Hughes’s and Chou-wen Chung’s attempt to make the Bardo Thödol express the desires of an expatriate American Chinese composer and a rising English poet in the 1950s; passes by Paul Claudel’s and Mishima Yukio’s mid-century adaptations of medieval Nō theatre; looks at Claudel’s and Kuki Shūzō’s efforts to make the poetry of the Kokin Wakashū and premodern Japan accord with the experience of being an expatriate in 1920s Tokyo and Paris; and finishes with Hughes’s and Bei Dao’s endeavours to place themselves as heirs to the traditions of both China and Europe. It is these fortuitous but often ignored points of contact between the East and West, ancient and modern, that exemplify the challenges and possibilities of transnationalism, and allows for an innovative new way of comprehending the multidirectional flow of world literature.


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Author Information

Ryan Stasey Johnson is a research associate at the University of New South Wales, Australia, and a tutor and research assistant at the University of Sydney, Australia.


Anthem Studies in Global English Literatures

Table of Contents

Introduction; 1. Literary Worlds and Degrees of Distance; 2. The Chou–Hughes Bardo Thödol: Constructing a Sino-British Opera; 3. What We Disagree about When We Disagree about Nō; 4. Paul Claudel and Kuki Shūzō in the 1920s: Paris, Tokyo and the World; 5. Tradition East and West, English and Chinese: The Cross-Cultural Poetry of Bei Dao and Ted Hughes; Conclusion; Index.


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