Reviews

“If Edmond’s A Common Strangeness with its linguistic expertise, its cross-cultural scope, its masterful analyses, and its theoretical insights is at all indicative of the state of the discipline (or at least of some of the best work it can produce), I am not overly worried about the future of comparative literature.” —Andrea Bachner in CLEAR (Chinese Literature: Essays, Articles, Reviews)

“By putting texts of disparate cultural and even historical moments into physical proximity with one another, by reproducing and reading these artworks together in a powerful act of multilingual erudition, and by bring them into a generatively loose organization through the use of . . . literary theory, the book embodies some of the structures it describes: It is a lattice made from disparate materials, an oscillation between the global and particular, and a mobilization of the idiosyncratic and the complex against some of the basic narratives assumed to underpin the post–Cold War world.” —Nick Admussen in Chinese Literature Today

“Jacob Edmond has written a remarkable book—impassioned, theoretically astute, and timely—that deserves to garner significant response across many fields in the humanities.”—Vitaly Chernetsky in the New Zealand Slavonic Journal (read the full review here)

“There is no doubt that A Common Strangeness, with its focal point in the aesthetic concept and device of estrangement, is a valuable contribution to recent scholarship that aims at finding new ways to look at the intricate network of relations of poetry to the world.”—Cosima Bruno in The China Quarterly (read the full review here)

“The words transnational and globalization appear frequently within scholarship on contemporary poetry, but so far there have been few sustained attempts to narrate recent developments across more than two language-groups or geographical regions . . . At least one person can now be said to fill the bill. . . . Edmond shows himself to be thoroughly grounded in the relevant literary traditions, and whether a given poem is written in English, Russian, or Mandarin, he proves able to supply the kind of intensive, patient, erudite textual analysis that one associates with the Yale school back in its heyday.”—Brian Reed in Contemporary Literature (read the full review here)

“un volume molto ricco e stimolante”—Giusi Tamburello in InVerbis (read the full review here)

“Each iteration—each chapter here, each poet turning toward a different land of language and location—performs a differential repetition, or what Edmond calls a differential ‘insistence,’ that can turn us constantly toward attention to each other and our practices. It is that kind of attention, that suspending of tribal blinders, that Edmond’s book encourages, and it is a pleasure to see this kind of work in the world.”—Lisa Samuels in Landfall (read the full review here)

“Jacob Edmond’s new book, A Common Strangeness, is anything but common and signals what I hope will be a new trend toward more ambitious studies of late-modernist to contemporary poetics on a global scale.”—Jonathan Stalling in Modern Chinese Literature and Culture (read the full review here)

“In this ambitious and rich work, Jacob Edmond explores the relationship between recent poetry and globalism. Rejecting both the traditional East/West binary and the local/global opposition which he sees as its replacement, Edmond maps out a middle ground––an area of contact and exchange in which seemingly disparate poets pursued a common poetics of strangeness in the post–Cold War years. . . . Edmond’s book is thoroughly researched and theoretically complex, drawing on Benjamin, Baudelaire, Bakhtin and Barthes, as well as numerous contemporary critics. . . . These theorists help reinforce Edmond’s larger argument about the poetics of common strangeness, but his careful examination of each poet’s individual work should not be overlooked or underestimated, especially considering the wide range of his subjects. In A Common Strangeness, he employs his own proposed method of comparative literature––one that is simultaneously global and local; abstract and particular; and resistant to dichotomous binaries.”—Sarah Clovis Bishop in the Slavic and East European Journal

“This book is a remarkable accomplishment. It resists the fashionable solution to the problem it sets itself—it does not seek to dismantle the genre of the poem in deference to the authority of contexts.”—Brian Glaser in symplokē (read the full review here)

This book examines the changes in poetic discourses that have followed from the end of the Cold War and the rise of a global literature, and it engages with impressive competence in the fields of Chinese, American, and post-Soviet literary cultures. . . . An understated, versatile, and clear exponent of poetic analysis and cultural commentary”—Andrew Kahn in the Slavic Review (read the full review here)

“Edmond’s book offers a rich and thought-provoking study and stimulates comparatist research. . . . the book offers an interesting juxtaposition of ‘estranged’ poets of various backgrounds and calls the reader’s attention to important politically and culturally controversial trends in societies such as China, Russia, and the U.S. It opens up new research vistas by drawing scholarly attention to issues that have become increasingly important in the contemporary world where old oppositions are no longer operative”—Marina Grishakova and Märt Läänemets in Recherche littéraire / Literary Research (read the full review here)

“The strength of Edmond’s study is the close readings of each poet, which are subtle and insightful across the broad range of national traditions he examines.”—Joseph Acquisto in The Modern Language Review (read the full review here)

“A Common Strangeness is a highly recommended book for all scholars interested
in comparative approaches to literature.”—María Colom Jiménez in Miscelánea (read the full review here)

A Common Strangeness is a work of real and very wide scholarship . . . Although much of its frame of reference was unfamiliar to me, I nevertheless found its arguments about particular and ‘global’ literary cultures, about the old concept of ‘world literature’, about cultural hegemony and about pop culture all fruitful and interesting.”—Nicholas Reid, Reid’s Reader: A Blog of Book Reviews and Comment (Read the full review here.)

“This bold triangulation of six Chinese, Russian, and American poets advances lively current debates about global literature by exploring encounters that challenge the old binarisms and chart possibilities of literary singularities for a future poetics.  Edmond’s shrewd account of literary crossings in post-Cold War history helps us imagine how we can experience the challenge of new literary configurations.” —Jonathan Culler, Class of 1916 Professor of English and Comparative Literature, Cornell University, author of The Literary in Theory, Structuralist Poetics, and On Deconstruction

A Common Strangeness is unique among studies of contemporary poetics in being genuinely global in its perspective and its reach. At home in Russian and Chinese as well as American poetry and that of his native New Zealand, Jacob Edmond pinpoints the crucial relationships that exist between what are seemingly disparate poetic cultures. The Chinese poet Yang Lian, who lived in exile in Auckland, is read under the sign of Benjamin and Baudelaire. The American Language poet Lyn Hejinian’s important dialogue with the Russian avant-gardist Arkadii Dragomoshchenko is studied carefully, and Bei Dao, Dmitri Prigov, and Charles Bernstein are treated as representative figures of cross-cultural thinking in the age of globalism. Edmond’s is a provocative, exciting, and genuinely original study of the new poetics; we will all be learning from it!”—Marjorie Perloff, Sadie D. Patek Professor Emerita of Humanities, Stanford University, author of Unoriginal Genius and Wittgenstein’s Ladder

“Jacob Edmond addresses what he calls ‘forms of textual strangeness’ across contemporary poems of beautiful complexity and staying power. This theoretically astute book challenges us to read with a keener eye and to recognize how much poetry can tell us about political catastrophes, national dislocations, and promises of cultural renewal.”
—Stephanie Sandler, Ernest E. Monrad Professor of Slavic Languages and Literatures, Harvard University, author of Commemorating Pushkin and Distant Pleasures

“One of this book’s secrets: it is, above all, a long essay on the relation between the general and the particular after deconstruction. What is it possible to say about poetry, or the global, in the face of the poem and the individual? As an antidote to these dichotomies, A Common Strangeness gives us triangles, operating in varied scales. Edmond’s analysis of poets from the US, Russia, and China allows him to shed new light on the patterns of literary making and cosmopolitan thinking that drive the aesthetics of globalization today. Overlapping, Edmond’s philosophical and linguistic triangles become hexagons, enneagons, dodecagons. These multiplying shapes provide fertile new ground for anyone interested in comparative poetics after 1989.”—Eric Hayot, Penn State University, author of The Hypothetical Mandarin and Chinese Dreams

“Edmond differs from most scholars who make a point of crossing national and linguistic boundaries to speak of a new ‘world literature’ in that he deals with non-Anglophone as well as Anglophone writers and can give close readings of the former as well as the latter because he knows their languages and the histories of their literatures. The fact that he applies this knowledge to a number of representative poems makes his study unique. . . . He makes significant contributions in the areas of literary history, textual analysis, and a theory of comparative literature that ‘negates commensurability in favor of superimposition, encounter, and touch.’”—Michael Heim, University of California, Los Angeles

“Ultimately the readings support an interpretation of Benjamin as authority for interpreting the experience of globalization, or ‘common strangeness’ as that experience appears in poetry. The close readings are . . . also very worthwhile in the context of critical discussion of world literature.”—Edward M. Gunn, Cornell University, author of Rendering the Regional and Rewriting Chinese

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