A wider and stranger space: world literature and world-building in Xue Yiwei's fiction

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Through references to Xue Yiwei’s (1964–) emigration to Canada, the translation of his works into English, and his repeated discussion of Western authors, the majority of critics have emphasized Xue’s global outlook. However, to date, there has been relatively little discussion of the ways in which his engagement with the world has shaped his writing. This article considers how Xue Yiwei attempts to “transcend the boundaries of language” and create what he calls a “wider and stranger space for literature” against the background of a historically fraught relationship between Chinese and World literature. What does this space look like? Where can we locate it in relation to China and in relation to the world? How does Xue attempt to shape this space through his writing? This article considers these questions from three angles: Xue’s repeated use of explicit intertextuality, the multilingual and polyphonic nature of his writing, and the way in which his books have circulated beyond China. Despite continuing unevenness in the global literary field, this article argues for points of creative agency in Xue Yiwei’s attempt to “dialogue with the world.”
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)293-321
JournalModern Chinese Literature and Culture
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1 Feb 2024


  • Xue Yiwei
  • World literature
  • World-building
  • Born-translated novels
  • Intertextuality


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