This volume’s cover features an image of avant-garde Taiwanese author Hsia Yü’s 夏宇 2007 poetry collection Pink Noise (粉紅色噪音). The latter is a self-published volume printed in pink and black text on a set of transparent polyurethane pages, producing a palimpsestic effect whereby the reader sees multiple layers of text overlaid onto one another. The volume’s poetry consists of a set of English and French text Hsia Yü has culled from the Internet and then fed multiple times through an Apple translation and search software called Sherlock, yielding extremely idiosyncratic Chinese equivalents. The resulting multilingual, boundary-crossing text nicely captures some of the taxonomical concerns that animate this Oxford Handbook. In particular, we approach modern Chinese literature as a fundamentally heterogeneous category that is not necessarily limited to texts composed in Chinese or originating from China, nor to ones that are “literary” in the traditional sense of the word. Finally, although we focus on the modern period, broadly defined, we are nevertheless attentive to the ways in which all texts function as palimpsests, inflected with virtual traces of the various literary and textual traditions that precede them.
We are grateful to Hsia Yü for giving us permission to use this photograph of the cover of Pink Noise as the cover image for our own volume.