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Hermann Hesse and Japan

A Study in Reciprocal Transcultural Reception

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Neale Cunningham

Hermann Hesse once stated that his Japanese readers understood him best among all his readers worldwide – a little known fact among readers of Hesse in the West. This book examines Hesse’s reception in Japan and of Japan in the context of a transcultural reception process. It traces the different phases of Hesse’s reception in Japan and contextualises this reception in terms of the regional setting of East Asia and the cultural authority of imperial Japan. The role of transcultural mediators as figurative nodes in the world literature system is analysed, with a particular focus on the key role played by Hesse’s «Japanese» cousin, Wilhelm Gundert. Finally, Hesse’s epistolary exchange with his Japanese readers is unfolded to show how deep affinities arise, which result in the creation of a type of «spiritual» capital. This epistolary exchange, together with the translation of the Zen bible Pi Yen Lu by Wilhelm Gundert, inspired Hesse to write a series of three unique Zen-poems as a means of expressing a lifelong search for transcendence.

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SERIES EDITORS

Prof. Dorothy Price • Prof. Madhu Krishnan • Dr Rhian Atkin

Transnational Cultures promotes enquiry into the cultural products of transnationalism with a particular focus on the visual arts, literature, music, performance, cinema and new media. With the growth of diasporic communities, migratory crossings and virtual exchange, cultural production beyond, across and traversing borders has become an increasing focus of scholarship within historical, contemporary and comparative contexts. Concepts of nationhood are increasingly understood as a limiting and limited way of understanding culture, as artists, writers, filmmakers and intellectuals produce multilingual or translingual texts, collaborate and communicate across national borders, and redefine and reject the national in favour of the global and/ or the postnational.

This series encourages new work that investigates how a transnational lens might transform existing understandings of art and culture produced in any period or location. What broader flows of knowledge, capital and power mark the cultural crossings that appear and reappear in pre-modern, modern and contemporary social formations? How do the cultural products of transnationalism trouble existing narratives of the nation-state? How do transnational cultures interact with and become absorbed by local, indigenous and national narratives? Topics may include the production and consumption of culture across borders; mutual exchange of ideas, objects and practices as a result of exile, migration and displacement; the role of social media, blogging, reality television and digital gaming in transnational dialogue. The series strives to offer a renewed understanding of the networks of...

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