Challenging the widespread understanding of the “rise of the novel” as a uniquely European literary phenomenon, The Age of Silver attempts to move beyond this monocentric world-system perspective and remap world literature across national lines. Endeavoring to further the parallel globalizing impulses in both the humanities and the social sciences, Ma aims at establishing a more balanced model of transregional comparison and advancing “a transcultural category of the realist novel as having analogous materialist tendencies and shared macrohistorical roots in the world system” (6) in the 1500–1800 period, or “the Age of Silver.” This is indeed an ambitious attempt (a reflection of the “think big” mentality), and a successfully convincing one as well. The cross-continental literary phenomenon described and analyzed in the book is particularly correlated with the global silver trade and the sociological and cultural effects it stimulated in East Asian and Western European regions.

Aiming at widening the...

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