Hong Kong, Taiwan and Mainland China form a cultural nexus that will change the world. Likewise, the way these Greater China intellectual streams interact with each other, and with the world at large, are shifting contemporary Chinese culture. No one writes more authoritatively about these trends than Professor Leo Lee Ou-fan.
In Musings: Reading Hong Kong, China and the World, Lee brings his unique breadth and depth of knowledge to a fascinating discussion of literary and cultural trends Greater China. These collected essays represent an important body of work highlighting the strands of cosmopolitanism in Chinese literary culture during the postwar period—particularly as represented by the city of Hong Kong and by Chinese writers in exile. Lee writes insightfully about Hong Kong culture and identity; about worldly Chinese intellectuals like Eileen Chang, Ha Jin, Gao Xingjian, and Lung Yingtai; and draws parallels between these Chinese cosmopolitans and other cultural streams represented by writers ranging from George Orwell and Barack Obama, to Kafka and Kenzaburo Oe.
Leo Ou-fan Lee is currently Sin Wai Kin Professor of Chinese Culture at The Chinese University of Hong Kong, having taken early retirement from teaching at Harvard University to become a long-term Hong Kong resident. While in the United States, he received a number of fellowships and prizes, including the Guggenheim Fellowship, and he remains Emeritus Professor of Chinese Literature at Harvard. Among his acclaimed scholarly books are Shanghai Modern: The Flowering of a New Urban Culture in China, 1930-1945; Voices from the Iron House: A Study of Lu Xun; and The Romantic Generation of Modern Chinese Writers. Besides literature, his other humanistic interests include classical music, film, and architecture.
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Thought-provoking look at chinese literary trends
Fascinating look at cosmopolitan writers from Hong Kong, China, and the world. Leo Lee highlights interesting trends from the Chinese literary scene that are usually overlooked. This book focuses a lot on Hong Kong literature, Eileen Chang, and the Chinese literary "diaspora" in the wider world - writers like Gao Xingjian, for example. There's less on contemporary mainland writers, but Lee's emphasis on the cosmopolitan, international strain of chinese culture is a thought-provoking counterpoint to much of what we read nowadays - especially when you read his concluding chapter on Japanese and Western writers.
Having spent years shuttling between Harvard and Hong Kong, Lee can probably cover the terrain better than anyone. He comes from academia but the essays in this book are surprisingly lively and accessible, probably because these are updated versions of columns he published for Muse magazine (no doubt the book's title is pun on this). His most recent books have been in Chinese so this provides English speakers with an insider's perspective. A brilliant read if you want to have a new perspective on the recent intellectual currents in Hong Kong and Greater China.