The Hypothetical Mandarin: Sympathy, Modernity, and Chinese Pain

Overview

Beginning from Bianchon and Rastignac's discussion in Balzac's Le Pere Goriot (1835), of whether the former would, if he could, kill a Chinese mandarin in exchange for fortune, The Hypothetical Mandarin traces a series of examples in which Chinese life and European sympathy hang in one another's balance. Ranging broadly among accounts of torture, medical case studies, travelers' tales, artworks, polemical broadsides, and plasticized corpses, this book shows how the historical and philosophical connection between ...

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Overview

Beginning from Bianchon and Rastignac's discussion in Balzac's Le Pere Goriot (1835), of whether the former would, if he could, kill a Chinese mandarin in exchange for fortune, The Hypothetical Mandarin traces a series of examples in which Chinese life and European sympathy hang in one another's balance. Ranging broadly among accounts of torture, medical case studies, travelers' tales, artworks, polemical broadsides, and plasticized corpses, this book shows how the historical and philosophical connection between sympathy and humanity has refracted with remarkable frequency through the lens called "China." Hayot's analysis traces the development of a number of intertwined constructs-Enlightenment philosophy, globalization, human rights, and the idea of modernity-and offers a novel history of the Western imagination.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"This is one of the best books on Chinese-Western comparative studies of the past decade. Eric Hayot has provided a provocative and compelling inquiry into the multiple conditions of 'China' as conceived by the West in modern times. His engagement with political, moral, economic, and aesthetic theories and cases has set a new standard for any study on the representation of China."-David Der-wei Wang, Harvard University

"Drawing on an impressively broad range of materials, Eric Hayot examines 'Chinese pain' as a recurring Western symptom whose manifestations are traceable to the moral philosophy, historiography, economics, and literature of the past few centuries. As a type of imaginary contact zone, 'Chinese pain' has much to tell us about how certain cultural boundaries may be stretched and pushed, only then to be safely reestablished. This is a learned, visionary book with far-reaching political and ethical ramifications."-Rey Chow, Brown University

"Provocative. Recommended."—Choice

"A provocative, successful experiment in making the core philosophical inquiry of what we know as comparative literature...His major contribution lies precisely in experimenting with a new way of reading that forsakes conventional notions of textual coherence and historical or cultural totality..Has much to offer to any serious scholar of Chinese and comparative literary, visual, and intellectual culture."—Modern Chinese Literature and Culture

"Brilliant...[An] extremely rich, interdisciplinary book...Builds new Chinese-Western intellectual connections while challenging us to rethink the history of how Chinese suffering has been used as a tool for elucidating Euro-American compassion and modernity." —Journal of Asian Studies

"Erudite and well-written...adds an important dimension to the discourse on orientalism...The Hypothetical Mandarin shows the path for future cross-cultural studies." —Comparative Literature Studies

"Displays a profound sensitivity to and respect for the work of language...Hayot makes a powerful case that we cannot hope to negotiate cultural difference until we commit to understanding what cultural difference really is." —Clio

"Hayot's wide-ranging footnotes testify to an admirable pursuit of ideas across disaplines. The result is a powerful, uniquely suggestive interdisciplinary framework for using sympathy and pain to connect disparate material and intellectual approached. The Hypothetical Mandarin deftly calls attention to the anecdotal nerves that animate 'the West' and 'China' as bodies of knowledge." —MLQ

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Product Details

Meet the Author

Eric Hayot is Associate Professor of Comparative Literature and Director of the program in Asian Studies at the Pennsylvania State University.

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Table of Contents

Series Editors' Foreword xi

Introduction: The Hypothetical Mandarin 3

1 Anecdotal Theory: Edmund Scott, Exact Discourse (1606); Stephen Greenblatt, Learning to Curse (1990) 36

2 The Compassion Trade: Punishment, Costume, Sympathy, 1800-1801 60

3 The Chinese Body in Pain: American Missionary Medical Care, 1838-1852 95

4 Chinese Bodies, Chinese Futures: The "Coolie" in Late Nineteenth-Century America 135

5 Bertrand Russell's Chinese Eyes; or, Modernism's Double Vision 172

6 Ideologies of the Anesthetic: Acupuncture, Photography, and the Material Image 207

7 Closures: Three Examples in Search of a Conclusion 246

Index 273

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