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Victor Segalen; Timothy Billings, trans.; Christopher Bush, trans.; Haun Saussy, fwd.

Wesleyan Poetry Series

2007 • 456 pp. 71 illus. 5 1/2 x 9 1/4"
Poetry / Literary Criticism - French / Comparative Linguistics

$39.95 Paperback, 978-0-8195-6832-8

Bilingual Chinese-English ed.

First English critical edition of a bilingual masterpiece with facsimile and facing-page translation

Victor Segalen has come to be widely recognized in recent years as one of the luminaries of French modernism. Trained as a surgeon and Chinese interpreter, he wrote prolifically in a variety of genres. With this highly original collection of prose poems in French and Chinese, Segalen invented a new genre—the "stèle-poem"—in imitation of the tall stone tablets with formal inscriptions that he saw in China. His wry persona declaims these inscriptions like an emperor struggling to command his personal empire, drawing from a vast range of Chinese texts to explore themes of friendship, love, desire, gender roles, violence, exoticism, otherness, and selfhood. The result is a linguistically and culturally hybrid modernist poetics that is often ironic and at times haunting. Segalen's bilingual masterwork is presented here fully translated, in the most extensively annotated critical edition ever produced. It includes unpublished manuscript material, newly identified sources, commentaries on the Chinese, and a facsimile of the original edition as printed in Beijing in 1914. Volume 2 of this work is available online at and

Click here for TABLE OF CONTENTS

Reviews / Endorsements

“Comparable to Ezra Pound's Cathay, Segalen's book is a fascinating read in cross-cultural poetics. This new translation combines impeccable scholarship with great sensitivity to Segalen's odd exoticism.”—Yunte Huang, author of Cribs and Transpacific Displacement

“Students of anthropology, sinology, poetry, modernism, and translation will welcome this elegant translation. This is a critical edition of the first order, carefully conceived and meticulously researched.”—Tom Conley, Abbott Lawrence Lowell Professor of Romance Languages and Literatures, Harvard University


Winner of the MLA’s Aldo and Jeanne Scaglione Prize for an Outstanding Translation of a Literary Work (2008)

VICTOR SEGALEN (1878–1919) was a French doctor, novelist, poet, literary theorist, sinologist, and amateur archaeologist.

TIMOTHY BILLINGS is an associate professor of English at Middlebury College.

CHRISTOPHER BUSH teaches comparative literature and humanities at
Princeton University.

HAUN SAUSSY is a professor of comparative literature at Yale University.

This project is supported in part by an award from
National Endowment for the Arts

Sat, 20 Oct 2018 15:26:56 -0500