Lucas Klein on A Common Strangeness and Cosima Bruno’s Between the Lines

I am delighted to see that Lucas Klein’s review essay, “Addressed and Redressed: World Literature and Reading Contemporary Poetry in Translation,” has just been published in Comparative Literature Studies. Klein’s essay discusses A Common Strangeness alongside Cosima Bruno’s wonderfully insightful book Between the Lines: Yang Lian’s Poetry through Translation, which I have previously mentioned on this blog. Klein’s review begins:

Civilizationally and politically otherized from the point of view of the West, yet never colonized except incompletely and piecemeal, China occupies a privileged position in current discussions of world literature, standing as a test case for many of our notions of the category. Meanwhile, translation—upon which, of course, world literature, however defined, builds itself—has been undervalued and under-attended to in our current discussion of the Weltliteratur predicament. These are, in fact, related problematics: in Between the Lines, Cosima Bruno quotes a scholar devaluing translation to the effect that “poetry has traditionally been built of words with a particular history of usage in a single language—of words that cannot be exchanged for other words” (2), which scholar at the same time posits Chinese literature, as Jacob Edmond discusses in A Common Strangeness, as a case of national literature par excellence failing to withstand the onslaught of globalization and the “end of history” after the Cold War (95–124). The brilliance of the books under review here is how they address and redress both issues, showing how translation can not only ease the tension between Chinese and world literature, but also build a world literature with room for Chinese literature.

You can read the rest of the essay here (requires a subscription to Project Muse).


About Jacob Edmond

Jacob Edmond is associate professor in English at the University of Otago, New Zealand. He is the author of Make It the Same: Poetry in the Age of Global Media (Columbia University Press, 2019), A Common Strangeness: Contemporary Poetry, Cross-Cultural Encounter, Comparative Literature (Fordham University Press, 2012), and of numerous essays, which have appeared in journals such as Comparative Literature, Contemporary Literature, Poetics Today, Slavic Review, and The China Quarterly.
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