Stèles

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Overview

Victor Segalen has come to be widely recognized in recent years as one of the luminaries of French modernism. Trained as a surgeon and Chinese interpreter, he wrote prolifically in a variety of genres. With this highly original collection of prose poems in French and Chinese, Segalen invented a new genre-the "stele-poem"-in imitation of the tall stone tablets with formal inscriptions that he saw in China. His wry persona declaims these inscriptions like an emperor struggling to command his personal empire, drawing from a vast range of Chinese texts to explore themes of friendship, love, desire, gender roles, violence, exoticism, otherness, and selfhood. The result is a linguistically and culturally hybrid modernist poetics that is often ironic and at times haunting. Segalen's bilingual masterwork is presented here fully translated, in the most extensively annotated critical edition ever produced. It includes unpublished manuscript material, newly identified sources, commentaries on the Chinese, and a facsimile of the original edition as printed in Beijing in 1914. Volume 2 of this work is available online at www.wesleyan.edu/wespress/segalen2 and www.steles.org.
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What People Are Saying

Tom Conley
“Students of anthropology, sinology, poetry, modernism, and translation will welcome this elegant translation. This is a critical edition of the first order, carefully conceived and meticulously researched.”
Yunte Huang
"Comparable to Ezra Pound's Cathay, Segalen's book is a fascinating read in cross-cultural poetics. This new translation combines impeccable scholarship with great sensitivity to Segalen's odd exoticism."
Yunte Huang, author of Cribs and Transpacific Displacement
Yunte Huang
“Comparable to Ezra Pound's Cathay, Segalen's book is a fascinating read in cross-cultural poetics. This new translation combines impeccable scholarship with great sensitivity to Segalen's odd exoticism.”
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780819568328
  • Publisher: Wesleyan University Press
  • Publication date: 6/4/2007
  • Series: Wesleyan Poetry Series
  • Edition description: Bilingual Chinese-English ed.
  • Pages: 456
  • Product dimensions: 5.50 (w) x 9.30 (h) x 1.20 (d)

Meet the Author

VICTOR SEGALEN (1878–1919) was a French doctor, novelist, poet, literary theorist, sinologist, and amateur archaeologist.

TIMOTHY BILLINGS is an associate professor of English at Middlebury College.

CHRISTOPHER BUSH teaches comparative literature and humanities at
Princeton University.

HAUN SAUSSY is a professor of comparative literature at Yale University.

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Table of Contents


Acknowledgments     ix
Foreword   Haun Saussy     xi
Introduction     1
Steles     46
Preface     53
Contents     67
The Poems     71
Afterword: "Explanation of the Edition"     259
Steles at a Glance     265
Critical Notes     285
Bibliography     401
About the Authors     417
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