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East-West Dialogues: The Transferability of Concepts in the Humanities

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Edited By Christoph Bode, Michael O'Sullivan, Lukas Schepp and Eli Park Sorensen

This is an edited collection of essays drawn from collaborative events organized jointly by The Chinese University of Hong Kong and Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich. The book focuses on how literary and cultural perspectives from different humanities academic environs in Asia and Europe might contribute to our understanding of the "transferability of concepts." Exploring ways in which these traditions may enter into new and productive collaborations, the book presents readings of a wide range of Western and Eastern writers, including Shakespeare, J.M. Coetzee, Yu Dafu. The book contains a virtual round table followed by four thematic sections – "Travels and Storytelling," "Translation and Transferability," "Historical Contexts and Transferability," and "Aesthetic Contexts and Transferability."

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Chapter 5: Strangeness at First Sight: The Alienating yet Appealing 20th-Century Chinese Titles of Frankenstein and Wuthering Heights: Liz Wan Yuen Yuk

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Liz Wan Yuen-Yuk

Strangeness at First Sight: The Alienating yetAppealing 20th-Century Chinese Titles ofFrankenstein and Wuthering Heights

“Frankenstein has passages which appall the mind and make the flesh creep […].”

—John Wilson Croker, Quarterly Review, January 1818

“This is a strange book […].”

—The opening line in the Examiner’s review of Wuthering Heights, January 1848

Mary Shelley and Emily Brontë are no strangers to strangeness. The OED defines ‘strangeness’ as the “quality of being strange, foreign, unfamiliar, uncommon, unusual, extraordinary, etc.”, and there is also the connotation of “unknown” and somewhat unprecedented for its adjective form. From Frankenstein and Heathcliff’s liminal states of existence—between living and dying, human and bestial, and corporeal and unsubstantial—to both protagonists having certain degrees of necrophilia and undergoing (self-)exile, their authors undoubtedly pioneered new realms of eccentricity in their famous novels. Despite being conceived thirty years apart, Frankenstein and Wuthering Heights are still connected, partly for their harnessing of two supernatural (and strange) elements: monstrosity and spectral visions.

The two magnum opuses may also be linked on the level of creation. For example, Charlotte Brontë, in her preface to Wuthering Heights (the 1910 John Murray edition), describes the novel as “moorish, and wild”, and “hewn in a wild workshop, with simple tools, out of homely materials”, which “wrought creations like Heathcliff, like Earnshaw, like Catherine”; and that “[Emily] did not know what she had done”. As the Victorian scholar John...

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