Transpatial Modernity offers the first in-depth account of the triangular relationship among Chinese, Japanese, and Russian literature and culture in the modern era. Drawing on primary sources in all three languages—among others—Xiaolu Ma reveals how Chinese writers translated and appropriated Russian cultural tropes through the intermediary of Japanese writing in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. To trace the global journey of these literatures and ideas, Ma maps four case studies involving leading cultural figures including Leo Tolstoy, Futabatei Shimei, and Lu Xun. Together, they demonstrate the central role of relay transculturation—cultural exchange among at least three cultures, one of which serves primarily as an intermediary—as the key to understanding East Asian modernity. Not limited to a dyadic relationship between source and target culture, Transpatial Modernity explores the implications of cultural brokerage within complex transculturation process, thus establishing the value of a new transpatial framework for understanding literary and cultural exchange in local, regional, and global contexts.
Xiaolu Ma is Assistant Professor, Division of Humanities, at the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology.