Analyzes the writing of D. H. Lawrence and Eileen Chang to envision how love crosses cultural boundaries

Table of contents

Table of Contents

Chapter One: Incest Prohibition and Cosmopolitanism
Chapter Two: Sexual Love as Public Defiance
Chapter Three: Adulterous Love as Modern Creation
Chapter Four: The Twin Utopias of Transcendental Love


Love, and the different manifestations of it, is a common theme in literature around the world. In Cosmopolitan Love, Sijia Yao examines the writings of D. H. Lawrence, a British writer whose literature focused primarily on interpersonal relationships in domestic settings, and Eileen Chang, a Chinese writer who migrated to the United States and explored Chinese heterosexual love in her writing. While comparing the writings of a Chinese writer and an English one, Yao avoids a direct comparison between East and West that could further enforce binaries. Instead, she uses the comparison to develop an idea of cosmopolitanism that shows how the writers are in conversation with their own culture and with each other. Both D. H. Lawrence and Eileen Chang wrote stories that are influenced by—but sometimes stand in opposition to—their own cultures. They offer alternative understandings of societies dealing with modernism and cultural globalization. Their stories deal with emotional pain caused by the restrictions of local politics and economics and address common themes of incestuous love, sexual love, adulterous love, and utopian love. By analyzing their writing, Yao demonstrates that the concept of love as a social and political force can cross cultural boundaries and traditions to become a basis for human meaning, the key to a cosmopolitan vision.

Sijia Yao is Assistant Professor of Chinese Language and Culture at Soka University of America.

“With suggestive pairings of novels by two famous literary authors who are seldom considered together, Sijia Yao invites us to think comparatively on the topic of love across different cultures. By juxtaposing love with cosmopolitanism, her sensitive readings underscore both their transformative potential and inexhaustible appeal.”
—Rey Chow, Andrew W. Mellon Distinguished Professor of the Humanities, Duke University

- Rey Chow

Cosmopolitan Love introduces a new way to understand how D. H. Lawrence and Eileen Chang (best-known for Lust, Caution) reconceived love as the basis for social and political transformation. In demonstrating the fascinating affinity between the two writers, Sijia Yao emphasizes the cross-cultural nature of their achievement. Cosmopolitan Love is notable for its compelling theoretical foundation and insightful close readings.”
—Keith Cushman, Professor Emeritus of English at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro, and recipient of the Harry T. Moore Award for Lifetime Contributions to D. H. Lawrence Studies

- Keith Cushman

“This book articulates love not only as essential to modern society but also as transcending of parochial and national boundaries. Sijia Yao offers an insightful reading of Eileen Chang and D. H. Lawrence in pursuit of cosmopolitan sensibility.”
—Ban Wang, William Haas Professor of Chinese Studies and Professor of Comparative Literature, Stanford University, author of At Home in Nature: Technology, Labor, and Critical Ecology

- Ban Wang

Finalist: 2024 Southern Atlantic Modern Language Association (SAMLA) Book Award Finalist | 05/21/2024
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