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Mapping Modern Beijing: Space, Emotion, Literary Topography
Published by Oxford University Press Inc
Mapping Modern Beijing investigates various modes of representing Beijing by writers travelling across mainland China, Taiwan, Hong Kong, and overseas Sinophone and non-Chinese communities.
I have lived in Beijing for thirty years, but I can't say that I have yet comprehended this city, wrote Lao Xiang, the great Chinese novelist, in 1935. Mapping Modern Beijing explores the various ways novelists sought to understand and articulate China's second largest city in the first half of twentieth century. Song investigates five modes of representing Beijing: as a warped hometown, a city of snapshots and manners, an aesthetic city, an imperial capital in comparative and cross-cultural perspective, and a displaced city on the Sinophone and diasporic postmemory. Drawing from literary canons to exotic narratives, from modernist poetry to chivalric fantasy, from popular culture to urban planning, this book explores the complex nexus of urban spaces, archives of emotions, and literary topography of Beijing in its long journey from imperial capital to Republican city and to socialist metropolis. While most English-language literary studies of China focus on its rural locales, Song's study presents a welcome departure, expanding our understandings of Chinese literature into the urban and the modern.
Weijie Song is Associate Professor in the Department of Asian Languages and Cultures at Rutgers University.
Reviewer: Paul Doolan
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