Asia Past and Present Books

BEATING DEVILS AND BURNING THEIR BOOKS: Views of China, Japan, and the West (Edited by Anthony E. Clark)

ISBN: 978-0-924304-60-6. 258 pages. Paperback.

Beating Devils and Burning Their Books considers several topics germane to today’s social and intellectual climate. Is religio-cultural conflict innate in religious belief? Is “difference” necessarily an antecedent of conflict? And on a purely expository level, how have governments, intellectuals, and religious devotees represented Asia or the West, and how did they distort those images in order to present diminutive representations of “the Other”? Following works such as Edward Said’s Orientalism and John Dower’s War Without Mercy, this important volume seeks to continue needed dialogue regarding how China, Japan, and the West have historically viewed and represented each other. 

“A marvelous collection of insightful analysis on topics ranging from the Chinese picturesque in 19th-century Britain, to the twisted spirituality of Brad Warner’sHardcore Zen, to the representation of missionaries in China as baby-eaters and beasts, Beating Devils and Burning their Books illustrates the tendency to exaggerate radical difference—both positive and negative—that is part of the complex interaction that makes up cultural exchange.”
Wendy Larson, University of Oregon

“In the current age of escalating hysteria, these essays constitute a timely and welcome intervention. Ranging across four centuries (seventeenth through twentieth), four disciplines (history, religion, visual culture, literature), and four cultural domains (China, Japan, Europe, the U.S.), these wide-ranging case studies argue for the continued necessity to demythologize views of the Other both East and West, because such acts of representations not only violate the Other at the epistemological level, but are too often a prelude to physical death and destruction.”
Patricia Sieber, The Ohio State University

Beating Devils and Burning Their Books breaks new ground in its embrace of a genuine “confluence of cultures,” East and West. Rather than focus on a unilateral examination of orientalizing Western views of the East, the essays in this collection bring together multiple viewpoints, covering not only such topics as the Chinese macabre in Western horror fiction and the American appropriation of Zen, but also studies of Chinese images of Christian missionaries and Chinese perceptions of the self in early autobiographical writing. The result is an important investigation into the processes and popular impact of cross-cultural representation (and misrepresentation).”
Cynthia Brokaw, Brown University

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