Chinese martial arts novels from the late nineteenth century are filled with a host of suggestive sounds. Characters cuss and curse in colorful dialect accents, vendor calls ring out from bustling marketplaces, and martial arts action scenes come to life with the loud clash of swords and the sounds of bodies colliding. What is the purpose of these sounds, and what is their history? In Sound Rising from the Paper, Paize Keulemans answers these questions by critically reexamining the relationship between martial arts novels published in the final decades of the nineteenth century and earlier storyteller manuscripts. He finds that by incorporating, imitating, and sometimes inventing storyteller sounds, these novels turned the text from a silent object into a lively simulacrum of festival atmosphere, thereby transforming the solitary act of reading into the communal sharing of an oral performance. By focusing on the role sound played in late nineteenth-century martial arts fiction, Keulemans offers alternatives to the visual models that have dominated our approach to the study of print culture, the commercialization of textual production, and the construction of the modern reading subject.
About the Author
Paize Keulemans is Assistant Professor of East Asian Studies at Princeton University.
Table of Contents
List of Figures ix
1 Acts of Ventriloquism: Literati Appropriations of the Storyteller's Voice 33
2 A Local Audience: Beijing Tales and the Brand-Name Recognition of Shi Yukun 65
3 Sounds That Sell: Vendor Calls and the Acoustic Aesthetics of the Marketplace 96
4 Listening to the Martial Arts Scene: Onomatopoeia in The Three Knights Series 145
5 The Cosmopolitan Teller of Tales: Cross-Talking and the Imitation of Dialect Accents 179
6 Sound and Space: The Acoustic Architecture of Wen Kang's Tale of Romance and Heroism 234