Publikation vom 25/06/2020

Interface – Issue 12: Poetry and Transculturality in Asia and Europe – The Material World

Christian Soffel, Serafima Tsung-Huei Hsiung

The main focus of interface issue 12 is “Poetry and Transculturality in Asia and Europe —The Material World”, which is a continuation of the general theme in interface issue 10. The foundation to both journal volumes was laid during the International Symposium “Poetry and Transculturality in Asia and Europe”, held in Taipei at Taiwan University in February 2019, organized jointly with the Center for Advanced Studies “Russian Poetry in Transition” (FOR 2603) at Trier University. In addition to exploring the function and value of poetic language (prose is not excluded) as the main expression of transcultural activities, the articles in issue 12 examine in depth the emerging tendency of exo­phonic writing and multilingualism in the field of current poetry. The new challenge in this issue is to discuss the reproducible relationship between language/words and external things or —in other words— the material world.

As a special language activity, poetry often operates on the boundary of language possibilities, trying to accept the language norms and expanding it by including elements from other languages or even language systems. As for the relationship between words in a certain language and the material world, this will inevitably bring the subject into this relationship, thereby forming a close interlocking relationship between language, material and subject. Nevertheless, this connection is not ­rigid, but a continuous process of decomposition and reconstruction.

As for the theoretical part, the discussions held in this issue include Wolfgang Welsch’s concept of transculturality, Vygotsky’s thinking and speech, Bakhtin’s theory of dialogue, and Jan Baudouin de Courtenay’s phoneme theory. Overall, the articles in this issue have academic depth, length, and breadth.

The issue begins with two articles focusing on the work of the Yōko Tawada. The first contribution explores the poetics of “exophony” by Yoko Tawada, a bilingual Japanese writer (Japanese and German), who chose a foreign language (German) as her literary medium. Tawada’s poetics of “exophony” is to liberate language from its fixed meaning and form a new literary creativity. In addition, this “exophony” writing needs additional and almost simultaneous translations between “external speeches”, which Tawada calls a self-translation process (Japa­nese-German). According to this view, Tawada equates her writing activities with translation. The other author tackles the famous Japanese poet from the perspective of “liminality”, putting her into contrast to the American-born Japanese poet Arthur Binard, who serves as example to elaborate on the characteristics of Tawada’s verse.

The next paper examines orientalism of Gabriele D’Annunzio, an Italian writer and poet in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. D’Annunzio expresses his orientalism in a short story titled Mandarina displaying “Eastern” exoticism in a space filled with Japanese artifacts and erotic desires. However, it turns out that D’Annunzio’s orientalism is a ­fictional East imagined by the West, which is exactly the orientalism under the concept of “Western social superiority” described by Said.

The topic of the next article is multilingualism in modern Russian ­poetry, in which the author formulates a typology of the Russian multilingual poetry; it consists of “situational”, “intertextual”, “creational-performative” and “cultural-identical” types of poetic form. At the end of the paper, the author draws a challenging conclusion: unlike America and Europe, Russian multilingual poetry rarely involves socio-political and identity issues. In most cases, Russian multilingualism is limited to aesthetics and cultural reference area.

The final article can be regarded as an important part of completing the transcultural topic in this issue. The paper examines the contemporary sinophone classicist poetry by Chang Yi-Jen (Zhang Yiren), a recent Taiwan literary historian and poet. Contemporary sinophone classicist poetry has not received enough academic attention so far, and this ­article just fills this shortcoming. The author uses the transcultural perspective to analyze Chang’s poetry, which not only helps to understand contemporary sinophone classicist poetry, but also enriches the discussion about transculturality.

From exophony writing, orientalism, multilingualism to contemporary sinophone classicist poetry, all articles are good at showing the discourses of transcultural perspectives (whether positive or negative). They verified that cultures penetrate each other on various levels and time periods, far beyond people’s imagination. As for the relationship between translation and text, in addition to transcending language boundaries through translation, literary text is also given a new written body.

We would like to express our thanks to the editor and the editorial board of interface for their continuous support and the wonderful atmosphere of creative cooperation generated by all people who have contributed to the completion of this volume.