Society & Culture

Chinese Literature Podcast

Rob and Lee Moore

A Podcast on Chinese Literature

Episodes

That’s One Weird Utopia: Kang Youwei’s “Book of Great Unity”
2017-10-07 12:17:18 UTC
That’s One Weird Utopia: Kang Youwei’s “Book of Great Unity”

There were a lot of texts dealing with reform in the late Qing (1895-1911), but few of them were more radical, or more bizarre, than Kang Youwei’s Book of Great Unity (《大同书》). The venerable linguist and Confucian scholar advocated a future utopia in which not only would governments and international commerce no longer exist, but even species distinctions would no longer matter. It would read like science fiction if it wasn’t argued with such passion. Join Lee and Rob as they discuss this thoroughly peculiar work.

http://traffic.libsyn.com/chineseliteraturepodcast/Da_Tong_Shu_-_edited.mp3

Liberia By Way of Beijing: The Appeal of Uncle Tom’s Cabin in Late Qing China
2017-10-07 12:17:18 UTC
Liberia By Way of Beijing: The Appeal of Uncle Tom’s Cabin in Late Qing China

So here’s a question for you: why was one of the most popular books in the late Qing Dynasty (1895-1911) a translation of Harriet Beecher Stowe’s Uncle Tom’s Cabin? Lee and Rob attempt to answer this question, and along the way discuss matters of representation and legal rights in America and China.

 

http://traffic.libsyn.com/chineseliteraturepodcast/Uncle_Toms_Cabin_-_Edited.mp3

Off With His Interior Self!: Shi Zhecun’s Weird and Wonderful “The General’s Head”
2017-10-07 12:17:18 UTC
Off With His Interior Self!: Shi Zhecun’s Weird and Wonderful “The General’s Head”

A character forgets whose head he has on his shoulders. An entire army delivers a unison monologue. Oh, and along the way an entire national approach to ethnicity comes into question. Shi Zhecun’s The General’s Head has a little of everything, and anyone interested in questions of nations, personal identification, and the life of the mind would do well to read it.

http://traffic.libsyn.com/chineseliteraturepodcast/The_Generals_Head_-_Edited.mp3

Song Dynasty Ci and Liu Yong
2017-10-07 12:17:18 UTC
Song Dynasty Ci and Liu Yong

 

In the finest traditions of podcasting, Lee and Rob here discuss something they know next to nothing about: the poetry tradition of the Song Dynasty. Colloquial and relatable in ways that the Tang couldn’t have been, and which the Yuan and Ming weren’t, Song Ci remain some of the more popular poetic entries in China’s literary canon. Lee and Rob discuss the possibility of their being the Song Dynasty’s answer to Bob Dylan, and debate how “poetic” something can be if it starts as something that isn’t poetry.

http://traffic.libsyn.com/chineseliteraturepodcast/Liu_Yong_and_Song_Ci_-_Edited_-_with_Music_Outro.mp3

How to Be a Failure and Still Get Rich: Ling Mengzhu’s “The Tangerines and the Tortoise Shell
2017-10-07 12:17:18 UTC
How to Be a Failure and Still Get Rich: Ling Mengzhu’s “The Tangerines and the Tortoise Shell

In the Ming Dynasty, If you weren’t born into a noble family, and weren’t on track to pass the civil service exams, you pretty much had to make something of yourself…by yourself. But if fate’s on your side, well, maybe that’s enough. In this classic vernacular short story (hua ben), a man who just never seems to have any luck finally finds some, and in the last place he ever imagined. Along the way, we get an interesting glimpse at mercantile life in ancient China, as well as an early form of Orientalism.

http://traffic.libsyn.com/chineseliteraturepodcast/Tangerines_and_Tortoise_Shell_-_edited.mp3

Literature for the People, or Without the People? : A Discussion of Zhou Zuoren’s “People’s Literature”
2017-10-07 12:17:18 UTC
Literature for the People, or Without the People? : A Discussion of Zhou Zuoren’s “People’s Literature”

Lee and Rob have an ongoing feud over May 4th Literature, with Rob championing it, and Lee attacking it. Lee’s ire reaches its focal point in this early essay by Zhou Zuoren, Lu Xun’s  brother, which he claims eliminates from literature any consideration of what it means to be properly human, while Rob defends the essay (to some extent) by pointing to the dire historical circumstances in which it was written.

 

http://traffic.libsyn.com/chineseliteraturepodcast/Peoples_Literature.mp3

Shen Xiu’s Little Bird Causes Seven Deaths
2017-10-07 12:17:18 UTC
Shen Xiu’s Little Bird Causes Seven Deaths

http://traffic.libsyn.com/chineseliteraturepodcast/Shen_Xius_Bird_-_edited.mp3

This week, we are getting back to our roots. Some of the earliest podcasts we did were on the huaben (話本) story. The very first podcast we posted (we recorded others before, but we canned them because they weren’t good enough) was a huaben  that we called Of Gods and Telescopes. We also did the gender-bending huaben Male Mencius’ Mother and Jiang Xingge’s Pearl-Sown Shirt. The huaben is just a kind of short story from the Ming and Qing Dynasties. Huaben operate in a karmic universe where bad deeds are punished and good deeds rewarded.

In today’s podcast, we look at the Feng Menglong story, “Shen Xiu and his Bird Causes 7 Deaths.” The story starts with a rich layabout, Shen Xiu, who is always out playing with his bird. While he is out, Shen Xiu collapses and Zhang, a cooper, sees him lying there with his bird. He decides to steal the bird, but Shen Xiu comes to, so Zhang kills Shen Xiu and sells the bird. Afterwards, several more people die in this trail of horrors. The question that Rob and Lee argue over is whether or not a moral balance is restored to the universe.

Mao’s Last Poem
2017-10-07 12:17:18 UTC
Mao’s Last Poem

Arguably the single most important political figure of the 20th century, Mao Zedong was also an active poet whose works are still read and, more frequently, debated. How exactly do you approach the poetry of a man whose legacy includes some of the worst man-made disasters in history? By way of exploring this question, we talk about Mao’s last known poem, a piece remarkable for its melancholy and, depending on how one reads it, sense of guilt.

http://traffic.libsyn.com/chineseliteraturepodcast/Maos_Poem.mp3

Sharing Heartfelt Emotions

Loyal and steadfast towards the country in its troubles, did I ever fear face execution?

Now all under heaven is red, and on whom does the nation depend for its defense?

The task is still not complete, the body is weary, the hair is autumnal

This generation of yours and mine, will it endure to see its wish fulfilled, or will it lose it irrevocably?

《诉衷情》

  当年忠贞为国愁,何曾怕断头?

  如今天下红遍,江山靠谁守?

  业未就,身躯倦,鬓已秋;

  你我之辈,忍将夙愿,付与东流?

Conversations with Nick Stember on Jia Pingwa’s Ugly Stone
2017-10-07 12:17:18 UTC
Conversations with Nick Stember on Jia Pingwa’s Ugly Stone

We had the honor recently of talking with Nick Stember, a longtime translator of Chinese fiction and comics, and the official English-language translator of the renowned writer Jia Pingwa. On this podcast, we talk with Nick about his work, and about the intriguing Jia Pingwa short story “The Ugly Stone.”

http://traffic.libsyn.com/chineseliteraturepodcast/The_Ugly_Stone_-_second_try.mp3

If you are interested in Nick’s work (and you should be), here is where you should check out some of his work.

First, here is the link for the Jia Pingwa project:

And, here is the direct link to the Ugly Stone story, for those who want to read the story we talk about on the podcast:

http://www.ugly-stone.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/12/Ugly-Stone-_-Jia-Pingwa.pdf

Finally, on this page, Nick argues that Jia Pingwa belongs to the genre of Global Literature:

https://glli-us.org/2017/02/20/jia-pingwa-as-global-literature-by-nick-stember/

Reading Between the Lines: A Discussion with Professor Stephen Durrant
2017-10-07 12:17:18 UTC
Reading Between the Lines: A Discussion with Professor Stephen Durrant

 

Well, this is it: our Aerosmith-on-Wayne’s-World podcast, the one where someone way out of our league is gracious enough to pay us a visit. We recently had the distinct privilege of sitting down with one of the U.S. academy’s most respected scholars on ancient Chinese texts: Professor Emeritus Stephen Durrant. Prof. Durrant is the author of numerous books, one of which, The Cloudy Mirror, is still the gold standard in commentaries on The Records of the Grand Historian. Lee and I talk with Prof. Durrant about his most recent achievement: the first-ever full English translation of the Zuo Tradition (Zuo Zhuan), the earliest narrative history in China, a project he pursued with David Schaberg and Wai-Yee Li. Join us as we learn from one of the true deans of the field!

 

http://traffic.libsyn.com/chineseliteraturepodcast/Zuo_Zhuan_with_Stephen_Durrant.mp3

 

For anyone interested in purchasing information on the translation, go to the following Amazon link:

https://www.amazon.com/Zuo-Tradition-Zuozhuan-Commentary-Classics/dp/0295999152/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1492643484&sr=8-1&keywords=Stephen+Durrant