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The Age of SilverThe Rise of the Novel East and West$
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Ning Ma

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9780190606565

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2017

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780190606565.001.0001

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Global Silver, Local Novels

Global Silver, Local Novels

(p.15) 1 Global Silver, Local Novels
The Age of Silver

Ning Ma

Oxford University Press

This chapter bridges the early modern history of the global silver trade, East-West comparative sociology, theorizations of modernity, concepts of planetarity and networkedness, and theories of the novel and world literature. The purpose is to advance an “Anthropocenic” materialist vision and a horizontal comparative method, demanding attention to roughly contemporaneous transcultural parallels and their shared environments and conditions. In this light, this chapter formulates a horizontal mode of early realism and novelistic modernity that appeared in both the East and the West during the Age of Silver (c. 1500–1800), and argues that this transcultural phenomenon crystallizes the emergences of substate and “heteroglossic” civil spheres, triggered by analogous and interrelated processes of cultural destablizations during an era of global commercial expansion. These findings overcome the unilateral equation of globalization and modernity with westernization, and counterbalance the discourse of incommensurability between different national literatures, especially Western and non-Western cultures.

Keywords:   Anthropocenic, global silver trade, East-West comparative sociology, theorizations of modernity, theories of the novel, world literature, Age of Silver, heteroglossic

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