Gal Gvili’s Imagining India in Modern China is an insightful and groundbreaking exploration of the literary and cultural connections between China and India during the 20th century. The book traces the development of a South-South literary imaginary that was shaped by Chinese writers and intellectuals who sought new literary possibilities and anticolonial solidarity in India. Gvili argues that these writers imagined India as an alternative to Western imperialism, and that this vision of a Pan-Asian ideal helped to inspire literary decolonization in China.
The book provides a fascinating analysis of the ways in which Chinese writers engaged with Indian literature and thought, and how these engagements were mediated by the Global North and its authority. Gvili demonstrates how Chinese writers struggled to break free from deeply ingrained imperialist knowledge structures, often reading Indian literature and thought through English translations. She highlights the limitations of the South-South paradigm, showing how it was constantly haunted by the shadow of the North.
Through detailed case studies, Gvili uncovers the multifaceted visions of Sino-Indian connections that empowered Chinese literary figures to resist Western imperialism and its legacies through novel forms and genres. She also reveals the indelible marks that imperialism left on their minds, providing a new perspective on the possibilities and limitations of anticolonial movements and South-South solidarity.
Imagining India in Modern China is an outstanding and much-needed analysis of the Chinese engagement with Indian literature during the 20th century. The book makes significant contributions to the fields of postcolonial studies, Asian literature, and China-India studies. Gvili’s work offers a reconfiguration of China-India engagement and contributes significantly to the decolonization of both comparative literature and Asian studies. It is a fascinating and pathbreaking exploration of the importance of India to modern Chinese literature and culture, and it charts much-needed scholarly pathways.