The sublime figure of history : aesthetics and politics in twentieth-century China /
Ban Wang.
Stanford, Calif. : Stanford University Press, c1997.
ix, 312 p. ; 24 cm.
0804728461 (cloth : alk. paper)
More Details
Stanford, Calif. : Stanford University Press, c1997.
0804728461 (cloth : alk. paper)
general note
"Character list": p. [287]-291.
catalogue key
Includes bibliographical references (p. [293]-303) and index.
A Look Inside
Flap Copy
Through a comparative analysis of diverse texts and contexts, this book offers a cultural history of the interplay between the aesthetic and the political in the formation of personal and collective identity that crystallizes into the Chinese aesthetic of the sublime. It describes how various kinds of politics are aestheticized and how aesthetic manifestations are bound up with prevalent ideologies and politics. In this book, politics refers to various projects for fashioning a viable self, a workable personal and collective identity in the crisis-ridden history of modern China. These projects include imagining a political subject adapted to the modern nation-state, mobilizing revolutionary masses as subjects of the Communist state, sustaining a unified self despite the challenges to traditional culture, erecting the sublime figure of the revolutionary hero, and, finally, debunking the grand images of the hero and history in post-Mao culture. Throughout, the author seeks to delineate the ways the political masquerades as aesthetic discourse and aesthetic experience. Covering a wide range of material from fiction, poetry, aesthetics, and political discourse to memoirs, film, and historical documents, the book reconsiders a number of prominent cultural figures, including Wang Guowei, Cai Yuanpei, Lu Xun, Eileen Chang, Mao Zedong, Zhu Guangqian, and Li Zehou. It also analyzes such important cultural features and events as Western influences on the formation of modern Chinese aesthetic discourse, modernist writings, Revolutionary Cinema, the Cultural Revolution, and New Wave Fiction. An East-West comparative approach informs the analysis, which engages in dialogue with Kant, Hegel, Freud, Marx, and Walter Benjamin, as well as Terry Eagleton and other contemporary critics. The author's interdisciplinary method, which emphasizes the interaction among text, context, and the psyche, both presents new materials and illuminates familiar texts and phenomena from the perspective of the political-aesthetic nexus.
Full Text Reviews
Appeared in Choice on 1997-10:
This volume contextualizes itself in an enormously wide Chinese cultural milieu including aesthetics, fiction, poetry, film, memoirs, and political discourse as well as in comparison to the Western cultural features of the 20th century. All this interdisciplinary work is an attempt to define and situate the sublime figure in modern Chinese culture. The book appears to be a personal statement rather than an objective examination. Ban Wang (comparative and Chinese literature, SUNY, Stony Brook) ties the political identity of the individual to the aesthetics of the surrounding culture. The sublime figure that he posits as this identity is mythically conceived and constantly invoked as an object of emulation for individuals and groups. Following Thomas Weiskel, Wang defines the sublime figure as a man who can, in speech and feeling, transcend the human. This sublime figure is then examined in relation to death, writing, gender, film, history, and politics. The author is ambitious and for the most part fulfills his intent to investigate the sublime figure in Chinese culture. However, since the work is subjective, it must be approached with discretion. Graduate; faculty. L. L. Lam-Easton; California State University, Northridge
This item was reviewed in:
Choice, October 1997
To find out how to look for other reviews, please see our guides to finding book reviews in the Sciences or Social Sciences and Humanities.
Bowker Data Service Summary
Wang analyses important cultural features and events such as Western influences on the formation of modern Chinese aesthetic discourse, modernist writings, Revolutionary Cinema, the Cultural Revolution, and New Wave Fiction.
Table of Contents
Acknowledgmentsp. vii
Introductionp. 1
Sublimation Unto Death: the Aesthetic Search for Meaning in Cultural Crisisp. 17
Writing China: the Imaginary Body and Allegorical Wildernessp. 55
The Sublime and Genderp. 101
Desire and Pleasure in Revolutionary Cinemap. 123
The Sublime Subject of Practicep. 155
The Cultural Revolution: a Terrible Beauty is Bornp. 194
Conclusionp. 263
Reference Matterp. 269
Notesp. 271
Character Listp. 287
Bibliographyp. 293
Indexp. 305
Table of Contents provided by Publisher. All Rights Reserved.

This information is provided by a service that aggregates data from review sources and other sources that are often consulted by libraries, and readers. The University does not edit this information and merely includes it as a convenience for users. It does not warrant that reviews are accurate. As with any review users should approach reviews critically and where deemed necessary should consult multiple review sources. Any concerns or questions about particular reviews should be directed to the reviewer and/or publisher.

  link to old catalogue

Report a problem