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- A Common Strangeness
Why is our world still understood through binary oppositions—East and West, local and global, common and strange—that ought to have crumbled with the Berlin Wall? What might literary responses to the events that ushered in our era of globalization tell us about the rhetorical and historical underpinnings of these dichotomies?
In A Common Strangeness, Jacob Edmond exemplifies a new, multilingual and multilateral approach to literary and cultural studies. He begins with the entrance of China into multinational capitalism and the appearance of the Parisian flâneur in the writings of a Chinese poet exiled in Auckland, New Zealand. Moving among poetic examples in Russian, Chinese, and English, he then traces a series of encounters shaped by economic and geopolitical events from the Cultural Revolution, perestroika, and the June 4 massacre to the collapse of the Soviet Union, September 11, and the invasion of Iraq. In these encounters, Edmond tracks a shared concern with strangeness through which poets contested old binary oppositions as they reemerged in new, post-Cold War forms.
Jacob Edmond teaches English at the University of Otago, New Zealand.
"This bold triangulation of six Chinese, Russian, and American poets advances lively current debates about global literature by exploring encounters that challenge the old binarisms and chart possibilities of literary singularities for a future poetics. Edmond’s shrewd account of literary crossings in post-Cold War history helps us imagine how we can experience the challenge of new literary configurations."—Jonathan Culler, Cornell University
"Jacob Edmond addresses what he calls 'forms of textual strangeness' across contemporary poems of beautiful complexity and staying power. This theoretically astute book challenges us to read with a keener eye and to recognize how much poetry can tell us about political catastrophes, national dislocations, and promises of cultural renewal."—Stephanie Sandler, Harvard University
“One of this book’s secrets: it is, above all, a long essay on the relation between the general and the particular after deconstruction. What is it possible to say about poetry, or the global, in the face of the poem and the individual? As an antidote to these dichotomies, A Common Strangeness gives us triangles, operating in varied scales. Edmond’s analysis of poets from the US, Russia, and China allows him to shed new light on the patterns of literary making and cosmopolitan thinking that drive the aesthetics of globalization today. Overlapping, Edmond’s philosophical and linguistic triangles become hexagons, enneagons, dodecagons. These multiplying shapes provide fertile new ground for anyone interested in comparative poetics after 1989.”—Eric Hayot, Pennsylvania State University
"Jacob Edmond has written a remarkable book—impassioned, theoretically astute, and timely—that deserves to garner significant response across many fields in the humanities."—Vitaly Chernetsky, New Zealand Slavonic Journal
A Common Strangeness by Jacob Edmond has received Honorable Mention for The Harry Levin Prize, which recognizes an outstanding first book in the discipline of comparative literature.
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