Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Translation: Anti-Fascist Screed

Chiang Kai-shek, Fascist

On the Dual Nature of the Nationalism Advocated by the Nationalist Literary and Arts School

by Qian Zhengang (see my Google docs page for complete translation; the original Chinese has a Google doc as well)

In addition to some more work on the theory of autobiography, I did a bit more translating of this latest paper. The main ideas of the argument in the latter half are:
Chiang Kai-shek, the most important supporter of the Nationalist Literary Movement, was already by 1927 no longer faithful to the Three Principles of the People but rather a devoted follower of Fascism.

Since the Nationalist Literary School took its orders from the Nationalist Literary Movement, no matter what their own ideology was like, for any and all ideology they all could only proceed to propagate Fascism, accepting or further explicating the ideas of their instigator, Chiang Kai-shek.

Well then, why did the Nationalist Literary School also propagate the egalitarian nationalism of Sun Yat-sen in theory and in parts of their works? I believe this is a result of the influence of the authoritative power of Sun Yat-sen's ideology. Sun Yat-sen was once the public leader of each revolutionary class of China; his Three Principles of the People were once the theoretical manifestation of the public will of each revolutionary class of China.

In one area, that accepting the government of Chiang Kai-shek required disseminating Fascism formed the deep nature; in the other area the utter necessity to fulsomely praise the nationalism of Sun Yat-sen formed the surface nature.
This is of course vaguely disturbing to translate, but I like that it has me thinking more about the lives and personalities of people like the author of the paper. Unfortunately the word that comes to mind is 'warped.' Deep feelings of some sort seem to brim just under the surface of this piece, but I can't say exactly what those are. Meanwhile the logic of the argument has the tacky, tired feel of Chinese inner/outer and deep/surface idioms. One thinks of De Francis, Hannis and others who have argued that Chinese language stifles innovation:
As I have elucidated above, for Sun Yat-sen's egalitarianism we should express affirmation, while for ultranationalism wet must steadfastly offer rejection. Well then, how should we distinguish this nationalism possessing a dual nature? The key to the problem lies in making clear the structural relationship of the dual nature, which means we must make clear which nature resides in a deep layer of the structure, and which in a surface layer.
Notably, what "structure" would refer to in real life is left out of the picture, along with any apparent realization that the term "structure" here is an empty abstract, a simple rhetorical tool really meant for no more than to emphasize what is no doubt a very safe point: Fascism is bad, and so is the KMT.


Monday, September 28, 2009

Next translation: Fascist screed

Where to find the Fascism: Vanguard Monthly, a KMT literary journal

The next translation I'm doing for Nobo contains some interesting information about Fascism among KMT writers in the early 1930s.

In 1933 Chen Xinchun was urging his readers to be more "Like Italy's Mussolini, like Germany's Hitler..." And in 1931, a fairly scary dramatic poem (ju shi) called "The Blood of the Yellow People" by Huang Zhenxia 黄震遐 gives us a vision of racism in the Chinese language. Set in the 13th century from the perspective of the 'yellow' Mongols who had scored a major defeat against the 'white'/'caucasian' Russians, the poem's beginning reads (first draft):

Give up ba, you menial fools, begging for your life,
Die faster ba, why you need to frown so?
Escape ya, crestfallen king of Russia;
Lie down ya, vicious mad dogs of Europa;
Topple ya, fabled high towers of Moscow;
Roll ya, Caucasian heads growing yellow hair;
Horrifying ya, boiling oil for frying corpses;
Frightening ya, rotten skeletons all over, what bad men;
Dead spirits clutching at white maidens embracing with all their might;
Beauties' lovely heads become hideous skeletons;
Savages like wild animals in the palace, combat fierce and mighty;
Knights of the cross, faces blanched with sorrow;
For a thousand years the coffins leach out their vile smells'
Iron heels trampling broken bones the cry of the camels becomes a weird hou;
God has fled, the demons have raised their firey whips of vengeance;
The yellow peril is come! The yellow peril is come!
Brave knights of Asia, show your bloody, man-eating faces.



















On Autobiography

One Way for French Theory to Come to America

Lejeune, Philippe and Eakin, Paul John. On Autobiography. Translated by Katerine Leary. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1988.

My continuing, slow efforts at the theory of biography and autobiography took me back to the first Lejeune volume in English, On Autobiography (I've already made one post on the famous essay 'Le Pacte Autobiographique'). I re-read Paul John Eakin's 'foreword' to the volume and for the first time started to get something out of it. A brief report on only the first section (from my notes):

Eakins unpacks the issues of narrative in Lejeune's work as one sign of the divisions between "two Lejeunes" -- two sides of his personality (p. xi-xiii). One Lejeune praises innovation above all things, and so he idealized "a story without narrative" as something really special, but the other Lejeune is a "connoisseur" making fine distinctions among very typically plotted autobiographies. Eakins continues directing us towards Lejeune's personality when he points out how Lejeune perhaps naively bracketed a firm concept of 'sincerity' in his work, but that it was this attention to the necessary modeling of the reader's response that makes Lejeune's theory more representative of the 'self' as we continue to consider it, despite the more contemporary theoretical notion that the 'self' is a fiction:
To read autobiography in the manner of Lejeune, one must be both sophisticated, alive to its imaginative art, and naive, believing in the sincerity of the author's intention to present the story of "a real person concerning his own existence" (p. xiii, quoting p. 4 of the translation)....The interest of Lejeune's position resides in his willingness to concede the fictive status of the self and then to proceed with its functioning as experiential fact (xv).


Friday, September 25, 2009

Qu Yuan, Visually

Reciting Qu Yuan poems at Double Fifth, the Poet turned Patriot

I'd like to collect here a few images that illustrate how the figure of Qu Yuan was used throughout Chinese history. (A continuing entry)

The Dragon-Boat Festival, also known as 'Double Fifth' festival or duan wu jie, is now often explained as a memorial tribute to Qu Yuan. In 2008, a major celebration activity series in Zigui, Hubei included an assemblage of middle school students to recite Qu Yuan's poetry (they are reciting "Ode to the Orange" 橘颂). (source: Xinhua news)

As David Hawkes so spurnfully points out, however, this tradition was not a product of Qu Yuan's day, but more likely an innovation of the Confucianist 'cult of Qu Yuan' that probably began to develop in the second half of the Han dynasty. The story that dragon boats were launched to save Qu Yuan or scare away the fish, as well as the one that rice and/or rice dumplings (known as zongzi) were thrown into the river to save the corpse of Qu Yuan from the fish (the wikipedia entry on Dragon Boat Festival contains these stories, for example), are probably inventions that help to bind together the figure of Qu Yuan with an older folk tradition.

Wen Yiduo, Poetry and Poetics Expert, 1920s and 1930s

Wen Yiduo, Painting by his son, Wen Lipeng (?)

David Hawkes quotes Wen Yiduo to show the general tendency to praise Qu Yuan in the 20th century:
Although Qu Yuan did not write about the life of the people or voice their sufferings, he may truthfully be said to have acted as the leader of a people's revolution and to have struck a blow to avenge them. Qu Yuan is the only person in the whole of Chinese history who is fully entitled to be called 'the People's Poet'.

Qu Yuan, the Poet turned Patriot


Turning Towards the Ming for a bit

The 'Massive Martial' Emperor, from a set of playing cards I myself remember seeing at gift shops in China in 2009

Fairbank, John King. China : A New History. Cambridge, MA: Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, 1992.

I was surprised to find that Fairbank's great textbook, China: A New History (here are my inspectional reading notes), devotes fewer than 15 pages to the entire Ming dynasty. Like most accounts, this one includes reference to the powerful personality of the first Ming emperor, Zhu Yuanzhang, aka the Hongwu ('Massive Martial') Emperor. Fairbank informs also that he was 'ugly to look at.' (p. 128)


Monday, September 21, 2009

A Modern Poetics of Biography

Leon Edel gives Yang Zhengrun the idea for the English title of the book

Yang Zhengrun 杨正润. Xiandai zhuanji xue 现代传记学 (A Modern Poetics of Biography). Nanjing, China: Nanjing University Press, May 2009.

Since I last posted on this book, I've gone through the introduction and gotten a bit fuller idea of what the author is trying to do. At the very least, one of the striking features of the work is that it will enable me to prepare a bibliography of sources in English on the subject of biographical criticism. Whether it can help me more than that by giving me an accurate account of all such sources is something I'll have to try and determine along the way. What I'm picturing now is that I'll slowly read this entire book while casting my eyes over many of the books it mentions, building a dissertation bibliography as I go.

Books Mentioned in the Introduction:

Maurois, André. Aspects of Biography. New York, Ungar, 1966 [1957].

Clifford, James. Biography as an Art: Selected Criticism, 1560-1960. New York: Oxford University Press, 1962.

Schiff, Hilda. Contemporary approaches to English studies. London ;New York: Heinemann Educational for the English Association ;;Barnes & Noble Books, 1977.

Edel, Leon. Writing Lives : Principia Biographica. New York: Norton, 1984.

Nadel, Ira. Biography : fiction, fact, and form. New York: St. Martin's Press, 1984.

Epstein, William. Recognizing biography. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1987.

Epstein, William. Contesting the subject : essays in the postmodern theory and practice of biography and biographical criticism. West Lafayette Ind.: Purdue University Press, 1991.

Folkenflik, Robert. The Culture of autobiography : constructions of self-representation. Stanford Calif.: Stanford University Press, 1993.

Ellis, David. Imitating art : essays in biography. London ;;Boulder Colo.: Pluto Press, 1994.

Hogan, Joseph. "Life Writing Canon and Traditions," Auto/Biography Studies, Vol. Fal 1994, p. 163.


Thursday, September 17, 2009

Qian Qianyi on Du Fu

Qian Qianyi, pic from here

My classmate, Hao Ji, brought a text called Chu xue ji 初學集 (The 'Begin to Study' Collection) by the Ming-Qing scholar Qian Qianyi 銭謙益 (1582-1664).

We read a few prefaces that describe Qian Qianyi's conception of previous scholarship on Du Fu and modestly introduces his own contributions to the field. The modesty that characterizes the tone and the rhetoric of the pieces is of great note here (more to come when I'm not so tired). Notes to the reading.

Also see:

Yan, Zhixiong. The Poet-historian Qian Qianyi. New York: Routledge, 2009.


Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Syllabus for a Writing Class

In which I officially begin to work on the syllabus for Spring 2009's ALL 4900w: Senior Thesis Project

Goals of the course:

To produce a 20-25 page research paper with bibliography with 30 people. No one will be left out. Everyone will produce a decent paper.

Texts: How to Read a Book by Mortimer Jerome Adler

Things to Include:

(Multiple) Individual Meetings with Students
Scaled writing assignments, very very often, on the moodle site
Guide to Using the Library

Rough Stages of the Process:

Examination of the Bibliography
Major Terms
Major Issues
Main Ideas of the Paper
Draft 1
Final Draft


Qu Yuan : State of My Knowledge, Briefly

Taiwan's Cloud Gate Dancers do a bit of evocative shaman dancing:

Major Sources on Qu Yuan:

Qu, Yuan. The Songs of the South : An Ancient Chinese Anthology of Poems. Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1985. The huge introduction here is my end-all source for information.

Waters, Geoffrey. Three Elegies of Chʻu : An Introduction to the Traditional Interpretation of the Chʻu tzʻu. Madison Wis.: University of Wisconsin Press, 1985. Not really a major source, perhaps so much as an interesting exercise in philology which I would like to investigate (together with Kael, perhaps).


Friday, September 4, 2009

Top Works on Biography

Dr. Johnson, authoritatively

Well, Lecture 1 is nearly done, and only took about 3 times as long as it should have. There are still needling little tasks to be added on, like the addition of slides with passages from the Xiang Yu biography, accompanied with tips on reading biography. Also I need to write out a sentence or two of each bit of the slide-show preview. Still, I feel strongly the impulse to move on and get started on the next lectures.

One week from today I have to deliver a lecture that is yet to be written! Stress!

Meanwhile, my background research is looking more and more fun. Oh, how I wish I could simply read books, and not have to respond to them either in writing or by teaching.

The Study of Biography, A Brief Bibliography

Samuel Johnson. Rambler #60. October 13, 1750.


Thursday, September 3, 2009

Not as Smart as Dr. Watson

Donald Keene and Burton Watson

Burton Watson was Columbia class of 1950; I'm Harvard class of 2002. In 1957, Burton Watson published Ssu-ma Ch'ien: Grand Historian of China. It's 2009, 7 years since I've graduated from Harvard, but I've produced essentially nothing. What I can't get over is that Watson didn't just put out a book -- he put out a terrific book, at once a joy to read and a meaty bit of historiography.

What a wake-up call. I think I've been wasting a lot of time.


Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Lecture 1: A Preview of the Course

Experiment: Can I post presentations from GoogleDocs to Blogger? You'd think that would be possible...


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