The Age of Silver
The Age of Silver advances a " method of comparative literature and applies this approach to analyze the multiple emergences of early realism and novelistic modernity in Eastern and Western cultural spheres from the sixteenth through the eighteenth centuries. Naming this era of economic globalization the Age of Silver, Ning Ma emphasizes the bullion flow from South America and Japan to China through international commerce, and argues that
the resultant transcontinental monetary and commercial co-evolutions stimulated analogous socioeconomic shifts and emergent novelistic realisms. The main texts addressed within include The Plum in the Golden Vase (China), Don Quixote (Spain), The Life of an Amorous Man (Japan), and Robinson Crusoe (England). These
Eastern and Western narratives indicate from their own geographical vantage points commercial expansions' stimulation of social mobility and larger processes of cultural destabilization. Their realist tendencies are underlain with politically critical functions and connote " national imaginaries. This horizontal argument realigns novelistic modernity with a multipolar global context and reestablishes commensurabilities between Eastern and Western literary histories.
The Age of Silver challenges the unilateral equation between globalization and modernity with westernization, and foregrounds a polycentric mode of global early modernity for pluralizing the genealogy of world literature and historical transcultural relations.