cover of book
 

Chinese Whispers: Toward a Transpacific Poetics
by Yunte Huang
University of Chicago Press, 2022
Cloth: 978-0-226-82264-8 | eISBN: 978-0-226-82266-2 | Paper: 978-0-226-82265-5
Library of Congress Classification PN871.H 2022
Dewey Decimal Classification 811.5098951

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ABOUT THIS BOOK
Chinese Whispers examines multiple contact zones between the Anglophone and Sinophone worlds, investigating how poetry both enables and complicates the transpacific production of meaning.
 
In this new book, the noted critic and best-selling author Yunte Huang explores the dynamics of poetry and poetics in the age of globalization, particularly questions of translatability, universality, and risk in the transpacific context. “Chinese whispers” refers to an American children’s game dating to the years of the Cold War, a period in which everything Chinese, or even Chinese sounding, was suspect. Taking up various manifestations of the phrase in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries, Huang investigates how poetry, always to a significant degree untranslatable, complicates the transpacific production of meanings and values.

The book opens with the efforts of I. A. Richards, arguably the founder of Anglo-American academic literary criticism, to promote Basic English in China in the early twentieth century. It culminates by resituating Ernest Fenollosa’s famous essay “The Chinese Written Character as a Medium for Poetry,” exploring the ways in which Chinese has historically enriched but also entrapped the Western conception of language.
 
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