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The Hypothetical MandarinSympathy, modernity, and Chinese Pain$
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Eric Hayot

Print publication date: 2009

Print ISBN-13: 9780195377965

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: May 2009

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195377965.001.0001

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Anecdotal Theory

Anecdotal Theory

Edmund Scott, Exact Discourse (1606); Stephen Greenblatt, Learning to Curse (1990)

Chapter:
(p.36) 1 Anecdotal Theory
Source:
The Hypothetical Mandarin
Author(s):

Eric Hayot (Contributor Webpage)

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195377965.003.0002

This chapter presents a lengthy reading of an account of the torture of a Chinese goldsmith recorded in Edmund Scott's 1606 Exact Discourse of the Subtilties… of the East Indians, and Stephen Greenblatt's reproduction of that account in the introduction to his 1990 collection, Learning to Curse. By moving back and forth between Scott's original account of the torture and Greenblatt's reading of it, the chapter extends Greenblatt's theorization of the anecdote as the emblem of new historicist literary work beyond the limits he himself finds there. A comparison of the edited version of the text Greenblatt cites and the original manuscript allows the chapter to make the case for an anecdotal theory whose treatment of what Greenblatt calls “real bodies” and “real people” nonetheless retains a strong connection to the literary.

Keywords:   torture, new Historicism, deconstruction, anecdote, Stephen Greenblatt, Edmund Scott, Elaine Scarry, pain

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