This new book from Christopher Bush – Ideographic Modernism – ties in quite nicely to both of the first books in my Royal Asiatic Society Shanghai – Hong Kong University Press China Monographs series. Both Anne Witchard’s Lao she in London and Lindsay Shen’s Knowledge is Pleasure: Florence Ayscough in Shanghai deal with translation, the effect of Chinese characters on western writers and artists and feature many of the people in this new book – Ezra Pound especially. So worth a plug I reckon….
Ideographic Modernism offers a critical account of the ideograph (Chinese writing as imagined in the West) as a modernist invention. Through analyses of works by Claudel, Pound, Kafka, Benjamin, Segalen, and Valery, among others, Christopher Bush traces the interweaving of Western modernity’s ethnographic and technological imaginaries, in which the cultural effects of technological media assumed “Chinese” forms, even as traditional representations of “the Orient” lived on in modernist-era responses to media. The book also makes a methodological argument, demonstrating new ways of recovering the generally overlooked presence of China in the text of Western modernism.
- Adds an important comparative perspective to major writers and critics such as Pound, Kafka, and Valery
- Presents the first major discussion of Benjamin’s relationship to China and its influence on his work
- Considers China’s engagement with the West via a variety of forms, including photography, fiction, and narrative nonfiction