BRITISH ROMANTICISM IN ASIA
British Romanticism in Asia: The Reception, Translation, and Transformation of Romantic Literature in India and East Asia (Palgrave Mcmillan), co-edited with Laurence Williams, is the first book-length study of how writers from India, Japan, China, Korea and Taiwan (e.g. Sōseki, Tagore and Zhimo) appropriated canonical British Romantic authors (e.g. Austen, Blake, Byron and Shelley). This collection seeks to challenge the Eurocentric idea of Asian receptions as derivative, focusing instead on the active and creative ways these writers responded to Romanticism. Reviewed in Essays in English Romanticism 44 (2020), 62-66.
ASIA-PACIFIC AND LITERATURE IN ENGLISH
Asia-Pacific and Literature in English Series (Palgrave Mcmillan) presents exciting and innovative academic research on Asia-Pacific interactions with Anglophone literary tradition. Its central focus is from the voyages of Captain Cook to the early twentieth century, but it will also consider previous encounters in the early modern period, as well as reception history continuing to the present day. I serve as one of the series co-editors along with Shun-liang Chao, Steve Clark, Tristanne Connolly and Laurence Williams.
Romantic Marginality: Empire and Nation on the Margins of the Page (Routledge) is the first critical study of Romantic-era annotation or marginalia – footnotes, endnotes, and glossaries. Although most readers tend to find footnotes a nuisance, in the hands of these writers, annotation became a crucial location in which they could provoke enemies, call politicians to account and disseminate information about foreign cultures. Examining such margins not only draws our attention to neglected aspects of texts frequently deleted by later editors, but also asks us to reconsider our understanding of the printed book in our current age of hypertext and globalization. Fortunately, this monograph received many endorsements and positive reviews such as Essays in English Romanticism 39/40 (2015), 187-191; European Romantic Review 25.4 (2014), 485-491; The BARS Review 44 (2014), 2-4; Keats-Shelley Journal 62 (2013), 151-153; and TLS (The Times Literary Supplement) 5718 (2012), 31.
In his 1980 film Kagemusha or Shadow Warrior, Akira Kurosawa presents the sixteenth-century Takeda clan engaging a lower-class thief to impersonate their recently deceased leader, Takeda Shingen. I examine Kagemusha as a critical engagement with Shakespeare's English history plays and ‘shadow’ counterpart to Kurosawa's trilogy of Shakespeare adaptations, Throne of Blood (1957), The Bad Sleep Well (1960) and Ran (1985). In keeping with Shakespeare's dramatisation of English history, Kurosawa creatively reworks historical sources, incorporating stories of intergenerational rivalry and fulfilled prophecies, to depict the transition from medieval civil conflict to the early-modern nation-state. Kurosawa also deploys the motif of the double to explore the distinctively Shakespearean theme of power as performance, engaging in a dramatic examination of Machiavelli's ideas about politics. I argue that Kurosawa's use of the double posits a theory of influence, drawing on Japanese cultural traditions, in which doubling can achieve a form of transcendence through self-annihilation.
THE GARB OF FICTION
In his elusive and eccentric 1838 novel The Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym of Nantucket, Edgar Allan Poe presents a sensation first-person account of his fictional title-character’s experiences of cannibalism, mutiny and shipwreck as a stowaway on the South Seas. He adds a series of footnotes and an extensive endnote that point out Pym’s factual errors and lack of documentary evidence. In the “Preliminary Notice at the beginning of the novel, Poe has the fictional character Pym admit that the real-life Poe is the author of the earlier sections, even claiming that Poe had them serialized in the periodical The Southern Literary Messenger “under the garb of fiction”.1 In this article, I argue that, in spite of their ostensibly marginal position, the notes Poe creates for Pym help us better to understand Poe’s play with fact and fiction throughout his writing. Poe uses these annotations to achieve an effect of ludic anticlimax, in which the flaws in his plot and characterization accrete so as to disintegrate the narrative the moment before its expected culmination. Poe thereby exploits the footnote’s capacity to bring exuberant reverie into collision with plain information, and to traverse the boundary between fact and fiction, ripping away “the garb of fiction” to reveal the intricacy of his fabrication.