East-West Literary Imagination
Cultural Exchanges from Yeats to Morrison
Yoshinobu Hakutani
293 pages
6 x 9

Formats available:
Hardcover   $80.00 SH
ISBN: 978-0-8262-2080-6

About the Book

This study traces the shaping presence of cultural interactions, arguing that American literature has become a hybridization of Eastern and Western literary traditions. Cultural exchanges between the East and West began in the early decades of the nineteenth century as American transcendentalists explored Eastern philosophies and arts. Hakutani examines this influence through the works of Emerson, Thoreau, and Whitman. He further demonstrates the East-West exchange through discussions of the interactions by modernists such as Yone Noguchi, Yeats, Pound, Camus, and Kerouac.

Finally, he argues that African American literature, represented by Richard Wright, Ralph Ellison, Alice Walker, Toni Morrison, and James Emanuel, is postmodern. Their works exhibit their concerted efforts to abolish marginality and extend referentiality, exemplifying the postmodern East-West crossroads of cultures. A fuller understanding of their work is gained by situating them within this cultural conversation. The writings of Wright, for example, take on their full significance only when they are read, not as part of a national literature, but as an index to an evolving literature of cultural exchanges.


Yoshinobu Hakutani is Professor of English and University Distinguished Scholar at Kent State University in Ohio. He is the author of several recent books, including Richard Wright and Haiku (University of Missouri Press), Haiku and Modernist Poetics, and Cross-Cultural Visions in African American Modernism.


“Professor Hakutani’s East-West Literary Imagination represents a significant intervention in recent critical discussions placing American and African American literature in global, comparative, transnational, and transpacific contexts.”—Anita Patterson, Professor of English, Boston University, author of Race, American Literature and Transnational Modernisms

“What we have not had in a useful and thorough form is a book like the one Hakutani has produced, a book carefully exploring the intellectual traffic between Asian and American authors on a larger scale across a significant period of history.”—Aldon Lynn Nielsen, Professor of American Literature, Pennsylvania State University; author of “Black Chant”: Languages of African American Postmodernism


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