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On the Smell of an Oily Rag: Speaking English, Thinking Chinese and Living Australian
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On the Smell of an Oily Rag: Speaking English, Thinking Chinese and Living Australian

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Ouyang Yu gives his unique insight into Chinese and Western language and cultures, and makes us reflect on our own habits of thought from new angles.

On the Smell of an Oily Rag draws examples from low and high culture and from the everyday and the literary life. Indeed, Ouyang Yu shows that they are closer together than we usually think.

Scholarly and scatological, this co
Paperback, 205 pages
Published January 1st 2007 by Wakefield Press Pty, Limited (AUS)
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The game of translation is a tricky one, and not just in terms of translation from one language to another. The creation of meaning is a writer’s game. It’s a subtle negotiation between texts, where the meaning of intent begins to approximate the meaning of perception. Translating from the writers’ idea to the reader’s experience takes every tool in a writers’ arsenal. Ouyang Yu is a poet who works the gap between languages, looking closely at our linguistic assumptions, etymologies, and ...more
May 09, 2015 Jenny rated it liked it
This book represents a genre that Yu Ouyang has dubbed pen-notes non-fiction (biji feixiaoshuo). It's basically a collection of his loosely-associated thoughts.

I almost quit reading after the first few chapters -- What the heck kind of writing style is this, and why does he refer to porn so often? -- but I eventually adjusted. His poetic descriptions provided insights into both Chinese and Australian ways of thinking, and he's got quite a good sense of humor.
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Ouyang Yu, now based in Melbourne, came to Australia from Wuhan, China, in early 1991. By 2015, he had published 75 books of poetry, fiction, non-fiction, literary translation and literary criticism in the English and Chinese languages. He also edits Australia’s only Chinese literary journal, Otherland (since late 1994).
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