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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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Bertrand Russell's Chinese Eyes; or, Modernism's Double Vision

Bertrand Russell's Chinese Eyes; or, Modernism's Double Vision

Chapter:
(p.172) 5 Bertrand Russell's Chinese Eyes; or, Modernism's Double Vision
Source:
The Hypothetical Mandarin
Author(s):

Eric Hayot (Contributor Webpage)

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195377965.003.0006

This chapter discusses the particular politics of Chinese “nervelessness” find another expression in Bertrand Russell's 1922 The Problem of China, which reports that if a dog is run over in the street, “nine out of ten passers‐by will stop to laugh at the poor brute's howls,” and claims that the “spectacle of suffering does not of itself rouse any sympathetic pain in the average Chinaman.” These two claims are the subject of this book's fifth chapter, which reads them in connection not only with the general historical process of Chinese pain but in relation to Russell's well‐known theories of subject‐object relations. Following Russell's train of thought through the work of his student Ludwig Wittgenstein and his friend Virginia Woolf, this chapter finds in Bloomsbury modernism a remarkable conjunction between Chinese pain and what Woolf's Andrew Ramsay calls, in To the Lighthouse, “subject and object and the nature of reality.” Placing this conjunction in relation to current scholarship on Western modernism, this chapter argues for the production of a more complex reading of modernism's relation to philosophy and to the Orient, proposing a critical “double vision” as one solution to the problem of modernism's narrow focus.

Keywords:   Russell, China, modernism, suffering, Woolf, England

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