The Hypothetical Mandarin Sympathy, modernity, and Chinese Pain

The Hypothetical Mandarin Sympathy, modernity, and Chinese Pain

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The Hypothetical Mandarin begins with two simple questions: Why has the West for so long and in so many different ways expressed the idea that the Chinese have a special relationship to cruelty and to physical pain? And what can the history of that idea and its expressions teach us about the politics of the West's contemporary relation to China, and, more broadly, about the historical development of the universal subject of modernity? Insofar as it responds to those questions, the book is a history of the Western imagination. But it is also a history of the interactions between Enlightenment philosophy, the explosion in international commerce that dates from the eighteenth century and goes by the name of "globalization," theories of human rights, and the history of the idea of modernity. Beginning with Bianchon and Rastignac's discussion of whether the latter would, if he could, obtain a European fortune by killing a Chinese mandarin in Balzac's Le Pere Goriot (1835), the book traces a se
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Product details

  • Hardback | 296 pages
  • 162.56 x 231.14 x 25.4mm | 544.31g
  • New York, United States
  • English
  • New
  • 14 black and white half tones
  • 0195377966
  • 9780195377965
  • 1,535,100

Review quote

Brilliant...An extremely rich, interdisciplinary book...Builds new Chinese-Western intellectual connections while challenging us to rethink the history of how Chinese suffering has been used as a tool for elucidating Euro-American compassion and modernity. * Journal of Asian Studies * A provocative, successful experiment in making the core philosophical inquiry of what we know as comparative literature...His major contribution lies precisely in experimenting with a new way of reading that forsakes conventional notions of textual coherence and historical or cultural totality..Has much to offer to any serious scholar of Chinese and comparative literary, visual, and intellectual culture. * Modern Chinese Literature and Culture * Provocative. Recommended. * Choice * Drawing on an impressively broad range of materials, Eric Hayot examines 'Chinese pain' as a recurring Western symptom whose manifestations are traceable to the moral philosophy, historiography, economics, and literature of the past few centuries. As a type of imaginary contact zone, 'Chinese pain' has much to tell us about how certain cultural boundaries may be stretched and pushed, only then to be safely reestablished. This is a learned, visionary book with
far-reaching political and ethical ramifications. * Rey Chow, Brown University * This is one of the best books on Chinese-Western comparative studies of the past decade. Eric Hayot has provided a provocative and compelling inquiry into the multiple conditions of 'China' as conceived by the West in modern times. His engagement with political, moral, economic, and aesthetic theories and cases has set a new standard for any study on the representation of China. * David Der-wei Wang, Harvard University *
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About Eric Hayot

Eric Hayot is Associate Professor of Comparative Literature and Director of the program in Asian Studies at the Pennsylvania State University.
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Table of contents

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