Two Centuries of Cultural Exchange
By Alexa Huang
Columbia University Press, Paperback, 9780231148498, 350pp.
Publication Date: May 1, 2009
For close to two hundred years, the ideas of Shakespeare have inspired incredible work in the literature, fiction, theater, and cinema of China, Taiwan, and Hong Kong. From the novels of Lao She and Lin Shu to Lu Xun's search for a Chinese "Shakespeare," and from Feng Xiaogang's martial arts films to labor camp memoirs, Soviet-Chinese theater, Chinese opera in Europe, and silent film, Shakespeare has been put to work in unexpected places, yielding a rich trove of transnational imagery and paradoxical citations in popular and political culture.
Chinese Shakespeares is the first book to concentrate on both Shakespearean performance and Shakespeare's appearance in Sinophone culture and their ambiguous relationship to the postcolonial question. Substantiated by case studies of major cultural events and texts from the first Opium War in 1839 to our times, Chinese Shakespeares theorizes competing visions of "China" and "Shakespeare" in the global cultural marketplace and challenges the logic of fidelity-based criticism and the myth of cultural exclusivity. In her critique of the locality and ideological investments of authenticity in nationalism, modernity, Marxism, and personal identities, Huang reveals the truly transformative power of Chinese Shakespeares.