Global and Transcultural Issues

 from a Humanist Perspective

 

by Professor Andrew T.L. Parkin

former Chair Professor, English Literature

Chinese University of Hong Kong

Paris, France and Vancouver, Canada

 

 

From soon after our birth, we human beings learn at an amazing rate and with an intelligence brilliant enough to select sounds into mere noise, music, and the words of our native language. We use our natural endowments and our capacity to learn so that we may survive. We learn to recognize our immediate environment, our family, and our own capacities. Walking instead of crawling is a part of our culture. We learn to speak the language we hear around us and thus we are learning our immediate culture. We discover that our family exists among others. We find that the language we speak, and later read and write, has embedded in it bits and pieces of a culture in its different phases: “It’s a piece of cake” comes from a phase of culture when cake is freely available to us all. “It’s as easy as falling off a bike” could not have arrived in the language until the bicycle had been invented and become a popular possession.

 

Since learning our native culture is so basic and natural we may not realize that it is a culture, and just one of many. We think of it wrongly as the norm. Once we are at home in our own culture, accepting its language, customs, and common values, we feel a sense of identity, personal and national. A popular French idiom I hear in the streets of Paris in response to some small courtesy is “C’est normal.” Somebody drives through a red light ignoring the pedestrian crossing. A bystander may shout, among other things, “Ce n’est pas normal!” Normality, however, is not an absolute across cultures; American English would even call it “normalcy”– and in many an English school that’s not normal! And home cultures have parts of them known not generally, but only to specialists of some sort. Who, outside sporting clubs devoted to fencing, would mention a ricasso?[i]

 

If we are capable of learning to live with our native culture, we are capable also of learning to live with a different culture from our own, whatever xenophobes may say and do. After all, when we travel to different regions within our own countries, we learn to recognize different cultural norms and may enjoy them, adopt them, or disapprove. We do this also, of course, when we travel abroad. When we study our own language in more depth and learn about cultural phases and practices that have all but vanished from the very culture into which we were born, we may even need translations. Beowulf needs to be translated into English, as do Sir Gawain and the Grene Knight and Piers Plowman. Cultures and their languages change as societies and living conditions change. We embrace new technologies along with their vocabularies. We abandon, maybe slowly, the vocabulary and the metaphors of obsolete technologies. We have often abandoned unlovely, sometimes savage and unjust aspects of our own cultures for more enlightened norms and have sometimes embraced desirable aspects of foreign cultures. And we should beware of aspects of other cultures which seem to us inhumane, cruel, or merely superstitious, and which through immigration may threaten hard-won freedoms in our own home culture. Crucially, we need to study our own history and that of others.

 

A body of evidence is a basis for truths that will in turn be modified by new evidence becoming known. Responsible scientists, historians and literary biographers and critics modify studies according to new facts and evidence that emerge. If not, they are either mere propagandists or simply unaware of the latest research. Yet history is not only political and economic; it is also the heritage of nations that helps people to have a local identity in a world that changes so rapidly that it calls all in doubt and can provoke identity crises in individuals and communities. Thus the meticulous restoration of works vandalized in the past or dismantled, stolen, and sold is of great importance as a part of cultural history that demonstrates afresh glorious moments of our civilization. Private, sometimes American, organizations and foundations (an example is that of the Aga Khan) as well as French government agencies are involved in the funding for restoration of crucial historical sites such as the Palace of Versailles, the chateau at Chantilly, and many others, together with period furniture and décor. This gives the greater public an idea of some actual evidence of a culture that would otherwise have vanished. It is part of the French identity but is not contemporary French culture, for this has moved on since the French Revolution. But all the best remnants of ancient cultures now also belong to humanity, for the greatest artistic achievements belong in the end to us all. This is why we feel outrage at the vandalism of monuments and works of art by criminal terrorists. Yet now, with globalization of travel and communications, the best of modern achievements pass rapidly beyond national boundaries. Even the cruelest of terrorists, rejecting western values, spouting propaganda against the wicked modernity of the west, want to buy its best weapons for killing! They do not want to return to bows and arrows, swords and spears, nor ride horses and donkeys when they can travel and terrorize the unarmed with modern means.

 

“Intercultural encounters,”[ii] then, and thankfully for the most part peace-loving, are now commonplace for many of us within our own countries and when we travel; we may even become intercultural in our daily living and eating as well as in our reading and appreciation of the arts of many foreign cultures. Though we may be critical of some foreign judicial systems or governance, we have for centuries been appreciative of foreign arts of many kinds. Cross-cultural writing is, of course, built into The Holy Bible and has been reinforced for that compendium by its translation into most known languages. In medieval Europe the use of Latin made cross-cultural exchanges by scholars almost a matter of course. Translations of significant books were sources for much of Shakespeare’s drama. His plays famously and frequently set their actions in different cultures beyond England’s borders or in the past. This tactic makes critiques of one’s own culture “safer” as well as providing a species of interest in the foreign setting for its own sake.

 

Translation is the great literary work for making one culture’s literary discoveries available to people in a different and often distant culture. Its great practical value is that it makes the spread of crucial, modern information a real force for cultural understanding. Literary translation has the wonderful further effect of showing the way more deeply into another culture so as to enhance a reader’s artistic appreciation of foreign writing. During the late nineteenth and throughout the twentieth centuries translations abounded, growing at a pace that has now made us realize the need for studies in translation theory and practice, and the establishment of departments of translation in colleges and universities. Translation is a “growth industry” in our age of rapid globalization. And the ethics of translation must be studied. Translators have duties to textual fidelity rather than mere propaganda. Professor Klaus Stierstorfer’s Düsseldorf conference on translation led in part to his and Professor Monika Gomille’s book relating translation processes and issues to literary and language studies.[iii] Scholarly associations of translators exist in a number of different countries. In France we have the impressive ongoing collection of translations into French of Yeats’s work directed first by the late Patrick Rafroidi and now by the greatest French scholar of W.B. Yeats, Jacqueline Genet. In 2005, the Société d’Etudes des Pratiques et Théories en Traduction (SEPTET) was established by Professor Florence Lautel-Ribstein to hold conferences on topics in translation studies of an international kind and to publish a journal with board members from different countries and cultures. Another initiative of Professor Lautel-Ribstein is her direction of La Collection Fictions Plurielles for Editions Anagrammes in France. The first volume in this series appeared in 2009, featuring stories from writers living in France and around the world in different cultures, their stories being translated into French when necessary. This series is intercultural in concept but many of its readers will be francophone individuals.[iv] Such readers may even be monolinguals, aware perforce of different ethnicities and curious about them but not eager to learn another language in any detail.

 

Some of the consequences of cross-cultural influences on specific cultures became apparent long ago with the ancient trade routes and growth of empires. With mass migration in the modern world, an enormous area of enquiry has opened up in the realms of development and cultural loss, identity loss or confusion, cultural gains and identity formation. The many student exchange schemes between universities around the world in a number of disciplines have proved to be a very significant factor in internationalizing culture and knowledge and have helped students to understand such issues. Travel changes us but it also strengthens our understanding. It may, of course, strengthen our love of our own country.

 

In the arts, the growth of English literature and other literatures in English has been a powerful bridge linking many different cultures now available to readers of English across the planet. Professor Rüdiger Ahrens’ work is a significant and inspiring example of the benefits of English teaching and scholarship at the university level.[v] A very significant aspect of his cross-cultural work apart from his own writing has been his involvement with the Erasmus scheme for student exchanges. Also in Germany, Heinz Kosok’s work in Irish literary and dramatic studies cannot fail to be recognized as a leading force in the field. In Austria, Wolfgang Zach has developed out of his interest and scholarly work in Irish studies, a series of brilliant conferences (and their published proceedings) on new literatures in English. His Centre for International Research in Literatures in English, established first in Graz and reborn in Innsbruck, has brought creative writers and university scholars together for many years now, establishing and furthering some dazzling new directions of enquiry. This work he has shared with the distinguished Professor of Irish Studies in Concordia in Montreal, Michael Kenneally. Such intercultural scholarship and writing leaps easily across national boundaries. It is a significant counterweight to the new vandalism and murder perpetrated by international terrorists

 

If we turn back to the Chinese perspective, no reader could fail to be impressed by T.C. Lai’s original writings in English or by the translation and commentary of T.C. Lai[vi], or by the steady accumulation of translations from Chinese into English that have appeared in the magazine Renditions.[vii] The analysis of global change in the contemporary world by the prolific Chinese scholar and Director of the Hong Kong Institute of Asia-Pacific Studies, Yeung Yue-man, gives us great insight into recent developments in Asia.[viii] This is the background for the fledgling Hong Kong creative writing in English by Chinese speakers and for the now highly developed literary criticism being produced in Hong Kong by Chinese scholars writing in English.[ix] This work engages the range of international writers of English and teachers of English. It may range from general controversial issues about the uses of English to specific studies of novelists, biographers, dramatists, and poets. Much of it springs from an appreciation of the cultural and creative power of the English language. It also springs from the vigorous and excellent departments of translation in Hong Kong and the region. When Gao Xingjian won the Nobel Prize for Drama, there was considerable and understandable excitement among Chinese scholars and critics. Gilbert Fong of the Department of Translation in the Chinese University of Hong Kong produced an English translation of some of Gao’s plays along with a detailed introduction in English.[x] Further, just two years later K. K. Tam edited a book of critical essays about Gao’s work.[xi] We find also that Laurence Wong, currently Professor of Translation in the Chinese University of Hong Kong, has published the first complete translation directly from the Italian of The Divine Comedy into Chinese, using terza rima and having a full scholarly apparatus. This will be the best Chinese translation of Dante’s poem for the foreseeable future. Wong has just published his translation of Shakespeare’s Hamlet and is now at work on translating an English epic poem.

 

Another very recent example of senior high-level research stretching across cultures comes to mind, this time from science. The 2009 Nobel Prize Laureate for Physics, Professor Charles Kao, is the Chinese, English-speaking, much-traveled “father of fibre optics” and thus inventor of a technology that has already changed the modern world and continues to change it almost at the speed of light.[xii] His work suggests the power of education across cultures. It also shows some of the benefits of global links.

 

It is now time to record the well-known remark that translators are also writers. Some of these writers, knowing two or more languages, have explored themes and experience that do not inhabit a single village, country or even continent. Their work can best be described as international and transcultural. Two recent publications using the moon as an anchor illustrate this very well. The first example is by one of the most prolific translators to emerge in the twentieth century, the late Michael Bullock. Born and educated in England, he emigrated to Canada later in life and became a Canadian citizen. His death in 2008 deprived us also of one of the oldest surrealists in painting, poetry and the novel.[xiii] He was a professor, translator, and a much appreciated teacher in the Creative Writing Department of the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, Canada. The publication of his parallel English and Chinese text, Moons and Mirrors,[xiv] follows in that Canadian tradition strengthened if not established in 1997 by the present writer and Laurence Wong in their parallel English/Chinese text Hong Kong Poems.[xv]Significantly Bullock dedicated Moons and Mirrors to Serena Jin, a long-time friend, a writer, a brilliant translator and orator, who headed the Department of Translation at the Chinese University of Hong Kong for many years before her retirement to write full-time. Professor Jin, moving so easily between South East Asia, Europe, and North America, is transcultural, moving easily across from one culture to another, while preserving the best of Chinese cultural values.

 

Moons and Mirrors is a handsome, subtly elegant paperback containing a selection of Michael Bullock’s poems about the moon as a symbol and as a beautiful prompter and mirror of human emotions. The front cover bears an illustration by Bullock’s grand-daughter, Susannah Cartwright, of a huge silvery-blue moon looming behind and held by the thorny branches of a black bush. This strong image is on a dark blue cover.

 

Inside the book, we find “Moon Branches,” the first poem, reproduced in holograph (Bullock’s own hand) with the Chinese translation in vertical calligraphy by Yim Tse, rather than in print characters, all the words printed in white on pages of light-grey paper: “Bare branches / claw at the sky / crooked fingers / scribble / on the moon-mirror / a poem to night” (front matter page). This reappears as the last poem in the collection (p. 156) but with its Chinese translation (p. 157) printed in characters reading the modern way, horizontally from left to right, as in English printing.

 

The book contains fifty-six poems, of which six poems and their translations are graced by the calligraphy of Yim Tse beneath the print version. Tse’s calligraphy also appears on the cover design. Of course, the calligraphy reads in the traditional way vertically down the page and moving from right to left. The calligraphy below the modern print seems like moon beams or reflections of moonlight, just as translation itself is a reflected image of the original text. The beauty of this book as a physical object is peculiarly appropriate to its cross-cultural presence and to the imagined presence of the moon itself.

 

Many of these imagistic verses were published also in Bullock’s earlier Avatars of the Moon. His introduction states very clearly what the moon is and does, so far as the poet is concerned. A great deal of it is compressed into “The Moon is a Mirror”: “The moon is a mirror / reflecting the face of the sky / its mysterious clouds / the night birds flying from nowhere to nowhere / catching the glint of stars / A mirror / polished by the hand of the wind” (p. 24). Two of the items, “Two Moons” (p.36) and “Clear Mirror” (p. 60), are terse prose poems. The method is for clear, simple language throughout, its only punctuation in linear verses being the end-of-line pause. The style is full of images and events, in a world where everything is alive and everything is capable of becoming something else. Such metamorphoses are a constant in Bullock’s surrealist works. Culturally specific references in this book are rare. Only minimal explanatory notes are needed. In this aspect the book becomes transcultural, at once Canadian and not Canadian, Chinese and not Chinese. It inhabits a space like the bilingual space of a translator contemplating human experience as if placed in universal moonlight.

 

The beauty of some of the lines may suddenly appear and then vanish, as if a wizard with an almost off-hand manner is at work, or a cloud passes across the face of the moon. Most are in free verse lines of varying syllable counts. Rhyme appears seldom, and then is used discreetly, as in “Blue Mirror,” (p.64) for structure is maintained more by the use of stanzas. Although the poems might be considered to be more about nature than about human beings, we should not forget that Bullock uses nature as a realm symbolic of human emotion. Nor should we forget “Mirror Moon” which “reflects all the dreams of the world / Great eye peering / deep into human hearts” (p. 94).

 

Perhaps the poem most overtly tied to human relationships is “Waiting for the Moon” written for Susannah. In it the romantic evocation of dusk is offset by the ordinariness of kitchen utensils, intensifying the mood: “evening wraps its cloak around us / pots and pans glint in the last glimmer of light /…we exchange words like flowers/   as we wait for the moon / to bless us with its light” (p. 150). The poem is very much a blessing. It shows, without preaching, the human need for love and companionship. Although human and animal violence is depicted in the surreal aggression of the poem in prose, “Two Moons,” where a frightened moon is swallowed by the “death’s head jaws” of a second moon (p.36), there is no hatred in the book. Bullock’s work does not, like some overtly political writing, deal in pet hates or murderous hatred; he has instead a profound regret for the sadness of life. In an age when millions of lives have been sacrificed to political and religious fanaticisms that claim new victims with every news cast, it is a relief to find a poetry that refuses to express hatred. This is not to say that there is no anguish in these poems. Yet the great virtue of this poetry is its intimacy with external nature and human nature in its many moods, always finding out its beauty in elegant and unexpected ways: “A white rose glows / like a mirrored moon” (p. 108).

 

The beauty of the original and of the calligraphy (I expect that the translators too have rendered the poem into a Chinese equally lovely) is strikingly presented on the parallel verso and recto pages in “Breast Moon”:

 

                                    Breast moon peeping

                                    from dark-blue silk

                                    spilling

                                    the white milk of its light

                                    over the sleeping world

                                                                             (p. 98)

 

The calligraphy, as much a picture as are other kinds of painting, streams down from the harder print like milky moonlight full of energy.

 

Michael Bullock’s introduction and foreword to the translation is characteristically clear, factual, and helpful for readers, letting us know how the book came about. The translators Kai Loh Leung and Jenny Tse with the very talented team who designed and produced the book deserve our respect and applause for creating a book that is like a showcase of refined beauty for many bright gemstone poems.

 

I’m grateful that I have it to read and re-read. The poet’s voice lives in this book and it lives in beauty, a beauty that travels across from one culture to another and remains authentic.

 

The next recent book with the moon as an anchoring image in the majority of its poems is Satish Verma’s Hundred Moons.[xvi] It seems a to be an “antithetical” Indian mask of Bullock’s surrealism, because it uses surreal juxtapositions of imagery and idea to produce visions of suffering, culturally specific yet applicable across cultures, that are shadowed by politics and the horrors of terrorist violence. This mature poet’s work often recalls Baudelaire’s irony and recognition of evil:

 

            “Scenic Beauty”

 

                                   What do you think

            a redemption of a clone will work

                              in the galaxy of stars?

 

            The hope was drying and violence

refuses to decline in the valley of flowers.

             Orphaned moon climbs up the hill

     to preside over the murmuring truths.

 

                              Nothing seems to work

                 for the liberation of long night

  and the winds put off the lantern’s light

           which was standing on the shore.

 

             A black widow crawls on my chest

for a certain drenching by a sucked heart.

 

                     Still I stare at the black eyes

                               for a washed up death.

                                                                   (p. 123).

 

India’s paradoxes run through the poem. Here are hope and the orphan, modern science’s cloning and the daily experience of a country in which “Nothing seems to work” and where flowers have a special beauty but are the silent witnesses of violence. In the land of peace and quietism, mob violence and public rapes continue. In “The Revenge” Verma begins with “A mob rapes a moon / under the blue sky. / Then parades her half-naked body / on the streets of clouds.” (p. 121). The imagery of nature’s beauty fused with the ugliest of human actions makes for a savage irony the more powerful for its stark and its oblique expressions. Verma uses the idea of reincarnation, commonplace in India, to give a new look at the deaths of terrorists and their victims. Senseless random murder is a denial of peoples’ incarnations: in “Cannot Hold” he ends the poem with “I could walk in ruins / of incarnations / preaching for death.” (p. 117). Verma, though, is not attributing all this distress simply and specifically to India; the reach is to the dark side of human nature itself, and to parts of the world that create some of the conditions with which we now live. In “An Acid Rain” Verma uses that consequence of the industrial revolution to contrast with the ongoing quest for beauty and inspiration: “This is it, I want to say. / An acid rain falling each evening / and you, reading a poem / surrounded by flame-attendants.” (p. 24). Are the flames those of the inspired imagination or of the smelters and factories? They may be both, for this poem is at home in India and also transcultural, addressing a modernity that is seen in many different places.

 

As with previous revolutionary movements, in Maoist China there came the decision to start again, to wash one’s hands of all the past culture that stood in the way of the Maoist ideology. The cultural revolution was launched. The peasant in his village was to be a model teacher, not those educated in the great universities. This was an attempt to destroy education seen as a system producing the cosmopolitan, the intercultural and the cultivated individual. Ma Jisen and Leung Laifong have recently provided startling contexts for the “scar literature” that has been published since the cultural revolution. Ma was working in the Foreign Ministry of the People’s Republic of China when the cultural revolution was unleashed. She was soon denounced and ruthlessly persecuted. Her book recounts and documents the effects of the catastrophe, attempting to, and largely succeeding in furnishing the reader with a relatively complete account of this revolution within the walls of the Ministry.[xvii]  She draws on archival material, speeches, and personal statements from some of those involved at the time, notably her interviews with “key participants” and as a reviewer has noted, “Ma does a good job of demonstrating the development and especially the winding down of the Cultural Revolution…” challenging “… the official historiography of the so-called ‘ten years’….”[xviii] If Ma’s book shows that the Cultural Revolution was not a coherent movement, unified in its various manifestations, Leung Laifong’s book confirms that assessment by providing interviews in some depth with twenty-six ex-Red Guards, members of the “zhiqing generation” [rusticated youth] who were sent into the countryside to learn from peasants, spending years in remote villages, mainly in medieval conditions and sometimes in military camps. The interviewees are now writers, trying to make sense of their experiences. “In their mid-teens, they actively participated in the Red Guard Movement [this often led to persecution and vilification and aggression against others] in the early phase of the Cultural Revolution, only to realize too late that they had been used as tools of political struggle….These two pivotal events – the Red Guard Movement and the Rustication Movement – which occurred during their youth shattered their convictions and their lives” and they now realize that their “zhiqing generation had been brutally sacrificed. Their lives are thus a historical and tragic irony.”[xix]  The cultivated scholars[xx] these young people persecuted and the education system itself were destroyed. China’s great work in education now is to rebuild and internationalize its scholars and universities. In opening up to the developed world, China under Deng began to discover the benefits of cross-cultural encounters, as the generations of Chinese intellectuals had done in the last years of the Qing dynasty and after Sun Yat Sen’s revolution. Instead of preaching class-hatred to students and then sending them back four or five centuries in time, China is now sending many students to the best universities on earth.

 

What became abundantly clear in the twentieth century’s wars of empires and ideologies and in the current power struggles, supposedly justified by religion and politics, is that, however reluctantly, we are all implicated one with another. It is also clear that increasingly intercultural and transcultural writers and their publications will grow in abundance. This is because global trade, politics, science, technology, and advanced education have created growing numbers of international people who can feel comfortable in different cultures. In this sense they can be seen as transcultural. The university communities world-wide resemble a club of varyingly cultivated people whose common pursuit is the acquisition and transmission of knowledge. It is this dedication to research and knowledge that distinguishes “the academic club” from those of the politicians seeking re-election at all costs, or businesses seeking profits at all costs. Yet these different clubs need each other. International business leaders and the very wealthy who move between luxurious milieux in a variety of countries may also sometimes be transcultural but are in any case loyal to their individual interests, whatever other loyalties they may have. They also depend in many ways on knowledge and research. These are stronger forces than retrogressive groups who have not yet learned that failure to adapt to a changing world leads to extinction.

 

After this has been said, we must recognize that one cannot be equally loyal to any number of different cultures and languages. When the chips are down loyalty to Shakespeare as a dramatist and poet, to Mozart as a musician, to Turgenev or Proust as novelists, to The Tale of Genji or to Peking Opera, or European Penaissance art or Romanticism, or to Mark Twain or William Faulkner, or to Frank Lloyd Wright, or Beethoven, or Ibsen, does not prevent world war. As conditions slide into conflict, cultures become conflictual. When conditions become extreme, to which country and culture is one loyal before all others? The recent referenda in Europe have shown that a majority of people may go along with a transcultural Europe as long as it strengthens their own interests and fills their own pockets but when Europe seems to be growing into a federation that weakens their own sovereignty, they are not so keen. Politicians have had to press ahead regardless to further their own vision by signing the Treaty of Lisbon. Inescapably, many people will see that move as being the construction of yet another professional space for politicians to gratify their own power hunger and livelihoods. That a federal Europe could be a formula for survival (given world trade competition) may not be clear to all. So we are confronted by a paradox: global trade makes interculturalism and transculturalism seem desirable and yet it entails competition between manufacturers and their work forces, all of different cultures! In the long run, when the votes have been cast, or mobs have replaced one regime by another, and human beings contemplate their own ultimate fate, we must concur with Donne’s famous words: “No man is an Island, entire of itself; every man is a piece of the Continent, a part of the main….Any man’s death diminishes me, because I am involved in Mankind; And therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls; it tolls for thee.”[xxi]



[i]  This is the unsharpened part of a sword’s blade next to the hilt.

[ii]  I am deliberately referring to the collection of essays presented to Professor Rüdiger Ahrens on his sixtieth birthday.

[iii]  See K. Stierstorfer and M. Gomille [eds.], Cultures of Translation ((Newcastle-upon-Tyne: Cambridge Scholars Publishing, 2008).

[iv]  See Florence Ribstein (Ed.), Treize nouvelles Liaisons dangereuses (Perros-Guirec, France : Editions Anagrammes, 2009).

[v]  Contributors to and prospective readers of this volume must be reminded of Heinz Antor and Kevin Cope (editors), Intercultural Encounters –Studies in English Literatures. Essays Presented to Rūdiger Ahrens on the Occasion of his Sixtieth Birthday (Heidelberg: G. Winter, 1999).

[vi]  See as a landmark text T.C. Lai’s Ch’I Pai Shih (Seattle & London: University of Washington Press, 1985; 1st printing  1973, 2nd printing  1982).

[vii]  This journal also has a very useful series of paperback books. See for example, Chen Zhongyi (ed.) with translations by Eva Hung et al.,   Selected Poems by Shu Ting. An Authorized Collection, (Hong Kong:  Research Centre for Translation, Chinese University of Hong  Kong, 1994).

[viii]  See as fascinating examples, his Global Change and the Commonwealth (Hong Kong: Chinese Univ. of Hong Kong Press, 1996) and New Challenges for Development and Modernization: Hong Kong and the Asia Pacific Region in the New Millennium ( Hong Kong: The Chinese Univ. of Hong Kong Press, 2002).

[ix]  Some general works of great interest to literary scholars and applied linguists too are Kwok-Kan Tam, Wimal Dissanayake and Terry Siu-Han Yip (eds.), Sights of Contstation: Localism, Globalism and Cultural Production in Asia and the Pacific (Hong Kong: Chinese University Press, 2002), Kwok-kan Tam and Timothy Weiss (eds.), English and Globalization: Perspectives from Hong Kong and Mainland China (Hong Kong: Chine University Press,2004) , and Kwok-kan Tam (ed.), Englishization in Asia: Language and Cultural Issues (Hong Kong: The Open University of Hong Kong, 2009.

[x]  See Gilbert C. F. Fong, The Other Shore: Plays by Gao Xingjian ( Hong Kong: The Chinese University Press, 1999).

[xi]  See Kwok-kan Tam (ed.) Soul of Chaos: Critical Perspectives on Gao Xingjian (Hong Kong: The Chinese University Press, 2001).

[xii] For a uniquely Chinese yet international celebration of Professor Kao’s work, see The CUHK Newsletter (No. 345) 19 October, 2009 and the website, www.cuhk.edu.hk/cpr/charleskao/.

[xiii]  The fullest critical study is Jack Stewart’s The Incandescent Word: The poetic Vision of Michael Bullock (London, Ontario: Third Eye, 1990). See also for a large selection of Bullock’s poetic and prose work, Peter Loeffler and Jack Stewart, eds. Michael Bullock, Selected Works (London Ontario: Third Eye, 1998).

[xiv]  Michael Bullock [translation by Kai Loh Leung and Jenny Tse], Moons and Mirrors (Hong Kong: Wah Hon Publishing Co., 2005). This collection includes some poems from a previous book by Bullock, Avatars of the Moon (London, Ont.: Third Eye, 1990).

[xv] See Andrew Parkin and Laurence Wong, Hong Kong Poems (Vancouver: Ronsdale Press, 1999; 1st pub. 1997).

[xvi] See Satish Verma, Hundred Moons on my palm (Jaipur, India: Sahityagar Classics, 2010).

[xvii]  Ma Jisen, The Cultural Revolution in the Foreign Ministry of China (Hong Kong: Chinese University of Hong Kong Press, 2003).

[xviii]  See Tong Xiaoxi’s review in The China Review , Vol. 5, No. 1 (Spring, 2005), p. 167.

[xix]  See Laifong Leung, Morning Sun: Interviews with Chinese Writers of the Lost Generation (New York and London: M.E. Sharpe, 1994), p. xvii.

[xx]  For a personal account of how such a scholar survived prison and hard labour camp, see Wu Ningkun and  Li Yikai , A Single Tear: A Family’s Persecution, Love, and Endurance in Communist China (New York: Atlantic Monthly Press, 1993). When I asked Wu how he had managed to survive intellectually, he gave a perfect transcultural, bi-lingual answer: he had two books in the camp and committed them to memory. They were the poems of Du Fu and Shakespeare’s Hamlet. This kept madness at bay. He loved to shout aloud “Denmark’s a prison.”

[xxi]  John Donne, Devotions, XVII.

 

 

About the author:

 

Professor Andrew T.L. Parkin, M.A. (Cambridge), Ph.D. Bristol

 

Brief c.v. and biographical note

 

Since his retirement from his post as Chair Professor of English Literature at the Chinese University of Hong Kong, he has continued publishing poetry and scholarly works. He has also taken on a number of “good will” positions and responsibilities. In 2003 he published a collection of original poetry, The Rendez-Vous: Poems of Multicultural Experience (Peter Lang). 2007 saw the publication of his poem Bird’s Egg as an artist’s book by Jacqueline Ricard with French translation by Olivier Delbard (La Cour Pavée, Paris). He collaborated with the painter Chan Hang and the distinguished poet and translator Laurence Wong to produce Shaw Sights and Sounds for Shaw College, CUHK, in 2007.  Two years later saw the publication in India of his poem to celebrate Sir Run Run Shaw’s achievements, the scenariode, Star of a Hundred Years (ARAWLII, Ajmer), containing a Hindi rendition of the poem by the poet Anuraag. Meanwhile, his scholarly essays appeared in journals; Cornell University Press published in 2010 his third book on Yeats, At the Hawk’s Well and The Cat and the Moon: Manuscript Materials by W.B. Yeats. In 2011 the scenariode for Sir Run Run was reprinted along with a new poem, “Gourds” in Star With a Thousand Moons (Ekstasis) and this book was reprinted again in 2011 along with new work in Another Rendez-Vous: Poetry and Prose from the Cultural Crossroads (Peter Lang). He had also edited and contributed to a special feature on Metaphor with essays by international scholars which, after a lengthy wait, appeared in the American/German annual, Symbolism No. 11 (2011/12).  He has also given poetry readings at Yale, Cambridge, the University of Toronto, the Oxford and Cambridge Club in London, and in Paris at the famous Café de Flore on the Left Bank. Invited by the British Community in France Women’s Assoc. to judge their poetry competition earlier in 2012, he also gave a reading of his own poetry. Donating his time to a number of organizations, he has been elected to “Court” (highest committee of Bristol University), re-elected Chairman of the Paris Decorative and Fine Arts Society, and continues as Vice-President, Cambridge Society of Paris. In 2010 he was again made Hon. Adviser to the Chinese Canadian Writers’ Association and read at a bi-lingual poetry event at Sun Yat Sen Garden, Vancouver, Canada. Professor Parkin divides his time between Paris and Vancouver, with trips to London and to Hong Kong, whenever this is possible.

 

Further information is available by Googling: andrewparkin.wix.com/author

 



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