Modern Literature II


Modern Literature II takes over many of the aims and objectives of the initial Modern Literature series. The main difference is that while the first series tried to offer something of a narrative, this second series revolves around 6 topics, with each of these involving its own chronological survey. The one exception is lecture 6, where I focus exclusively on the Modernist period, for which I try to propose an overall framework.

All 6 of the Modern Literature II talks were held at Beijing University in October 2015. For the kind invitation to deliver these, and for taking care of many of the necessary arrangements, I’m very grateful to Gao Fengfeng. Some of the hosting work was done from afar by Mao Liang. Their indispensable aide was, as always, Brook Liu (Liu Shui), to whom my indebtedness keeps growing. At the talks themselves, I owe much to the graceful mediation of Huang Chun and Su Weixing, to both of whom I’m also grateful for many, many other favors. Lecture 2 grew out of an earlier talk I gave at the Beijing Foreign Studies University (Beiwai) 3 years ago. My thanks to Mu Fangfang and her husband Ho Yiling, who made it possible. In the U.S., I received much helpful advice for the Modernism talk from Vicki Mahaffey, and from Jonathan Arac for some points connected with my talk on Empire. All of the PowerPoint material was prepared by Shou Chenlin, whose timely assistance made everything so much easier. My sister, Jean Chai, supplied the photos of the Hôtel-Dieu in Paris. Finally, my thanks to Zhang Bo, An Shuai and Tang Jiawei for technical support. For all matters connected with the website, my thanks once again to Tina Stenger, the sine qua non, the indispensable. And, lastly, my gratitude, as always, to Cara Ryan.

References to Powerpoint (PPT) slides within the text take the following form: PPT 2:1 = PPT 2 (i.e., the 2nd PPT set of the PPT attachments), slide 1.

References to works cited in the text:


George Eliot. Middlemarch, ed. David Carroll (Oxford: Clarendon Pr., 1986/1992)

Henry Adams. The Education of Henry Adams, ed. Ernest Samuels (Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1973).

Marcel Proust, A la recherché du temps perdu, ed. Jean-Yves Tadié et al. (Bibliothèque de la Pléiade) 4 vols. (Paris: Gallimard, 1987-89)

Don DeLillo. White Noise (NY: Viking Penguin, 1985)


Henry Mayhew, London Labour and the London Poor. 4 vols. (London: Griffin, Bohn & Co., 1861-62. Rpt. NY: Dover, 1968)

Edwin Chadwick. Report on the Sanitary Condition of the Labouring Population of Great Britain, ed. M.W. Flinn (Edinburgh UP, 1965)

Charles Dickens. David Copperfield, ed. Nina Burgis (Oxford: Clarendon Pr., 1981)

Henry James, The Ambassadors. [New York Edition] 2 vols. (New York & London: Scribner, 1909)

Complete Poems of Hart Crane, ed. Marc Simon (NY: Liveright, 1986)


Byron’s Letters & Journals, ed. Leslie Marchand. 11 vols. (Cambridge: Harvard UP, 1973-82).

Brillat-Savarin, Physiologie du Gout, ou Méditations de Gastronomie Transcendante. 2 vols. (Paris: Sautelet, 1826)

Alvin Langdon Coburn. By Notre Dame, 1909. Courtesy Boston Museum of Fine Arts.

Henry James, The Ambassadors. [New York Edition] 2 vols. (New York & London: Scribner, 1909).


The Complete Works of Oscar Wilde, ed. Ian Small. Vol. II: De Profundis, ed. Ian Small (Oxford: Clarendon Pr., 2005)


Thackeray. The Snobs of England and Punch’s Prize Novelists, ed. Edgar F. Harden (Ann Arbor: U. of Michigan Pr., 2005)


D.H. Lawrence. The Rainbow, ed. Mark Kinkead-Weekes (Cambridge UP, 1989)

Roger Fry. Vision and Design, ed. J.B. Bullen (London: Oxford UP, 1981)

Virginia Woolf, Roger Fry: A Biography (NY: Harcourt Brace, 1940)

Complete Poems of Hart Crane, ed. Marc Simon (NY: Liveright, 1986)