The Age of Silver advances a "horizontal" method of comparative literature and applies this approach to analyze the multiple emergences of early realism and novelistic modernity in Eastern and Western cultural spheres from the sixteenth through the eighteenth centuries. Naming this era of economic globalization the Age of Silver, Ning Ma emphasizes the bullion flow from South America and Japan to China through international commerce, and argues that the resultant transcontinental monetary and commercial co-evolutions stimulated analogous socioeconomic shifts and emergent novelistic realisms. The main texts addressed within include The Plum in the Golden Vase (China), Don Quixote (Spain), The Life of an Amorous Man (Japan), and Robinson Crusoe (England). These Eastern and Western narratives indicate from their own geographical vantage points commercial expansions' stimulation of social mobility and larger processes of cultural destabilization. Their realist tendencies are underlain with politically critical functions and connote "heteroglossic" national imaginaries. This horizontal argument realigns novelistic modernity with a multipolar global context and reestablishes commensurabilities between Eastern and Western literary histories. The Age of Silver challenges the unilateral equation between globalization and modernity with westernization, and foregrounds a polycentric mode of global early modernity for pluralizing the genealogy of world literature and historical transcultural relations.
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About the Author
Ning Ma is Assistant Professor of Chinese at Tufts University.
Table of ContentsIntroduction. Toward Horizontal Comparisons
Chapter 1. Global Silver, Local Novels
Chapter 2. Along the Grand Canal: The Lord of Silver in The Plum in the Golden Vase
Chapter 3. La Mancha to the Indies: Romance and Materiality of the Empire in Don Quixote
Chapter 4. Out of Nagasaki: To the End of the Floating World
Chapter 5. Caribbean to China: Crusoe's Two Adventures
Epilogue: The Transcivilizational Feminine and World Literature