Journal Articles

December 2016 - Vol.47/No.1
Forgiveness in Jane Eyre
Author : Yih-Dau Wu
Keywords : forgiveness, Jane Eyre, Charlotte Brontë, reconciliation, love
Forgiveness plays a central role in the plot, characterization and even sentence formations of Charlotte Brontë’s novel Jane Eyre (1847). Yet this novel has curiously eluded the attention of most literary historians who draw on prose fiction to explain the importance of forgiveness in Victorian England. This essay argues that this omission betrays a rarely-discussed awareness that Jane Eyre challenges the Victorian understanding of forgiveness. Brontë’s contemporaries believe that forgiveness is a Christian virtue expressive of love. They also embrace forgiveness as a reconciliatory gesture productive of social and spiritual redemption. Brontë subverts both assumptions in her novel. Through Helen Burn’s self-absorption, Aunt Reed’s life-long resentment and Jane Eyre’s withheld speech, Brontë demonstrates how futile the language of forgiveness can be in resolving conflicts. In addition, Brontë incorporates the Christian language of forgiveness into her text, only to reveal how sharply it can depart from words of love and how easily it can descend into expressions of hostility. Critics of Jane Eyre have long noticed its subversive spirit and have explained it in terms of Brontë’s social criticism or feminist agenda. This essay maintains that the issue of forgiveness provides a more consistent and persuasive approach to understanding the rebellious quality of this novel.
Lord Byron’s The Giaour: More than a Mere Orientalist Curio
Author : Jon Nichols
Keywords : Lord Byron, Poetry, The Giaour, Orientalism, Edward Said, Political Metaphor, European Imperialism
This paper argues that Lord Byron’s poem The Giaour which has been inaccurately classified as a work of Romantic Orientalism, should be regarded as both an example of political metaphor and a rebuke of British imperialism. Within the poem, the major characters represent Greece, the Ottoman Empire, and Western Europe. It is my contention that the poem does not fulfill many of the criterions that Edward Said states are necessary in order to be considered strictly as a work of Orientalism. These discrepancies include Byron’s treatment of character names and their connection to the concept of “otherness,” the decidedly Eastern viewpoint of the poem, the passivity and silence of the “Western” characters, and the lack of meaningful comparisons between Oriental and Occidental values, culture, and— most importantly—religion. The poem is also significant because it is arguably the first to feature a fully realized version of the “Byronic hero.” In addition, the poem should be viewed as an important source of insight into the inner workings of Lord Byron as an author, a political thinker, and as an individual. The Giaour neatly merges Byron’s experiences of traveling through “The Orient” as a young man and the life-changing moral choices he would make toward the end of his life.
The Imagined Phoenicians in Homer’s Odyssey
Author : Yuyen Chang
Keywords : Phoenicians, Odyssey, Orientalism, other, Greekness
About 700 BCE, thanks to the frequent contact with the Eastern world an important breakthrough took place in Greek arts and cultures, thereby introducing the Greek Renaissance or the orientalizing revolution. Numerous instances of Phoenician ships and craftsmanship can be readily found in Homer’s epics and often come to serve as substantial exemplars for Orientalism. However, the Odyssey belongs to an epic tradition of large-scale heroic poetry and aims to relate a fictive world of the heroic past, although the present of the epics is precisely the period about 750-550 BCE, the time when the new cultural and social trends were in the process of formation. The stories in the Odyssey, at most, provide a virtual reality and a real fiction, which can open a unique window to understand the profound impact brought about through the interaction with Phoenicians. Integral to the question of the imagined Phoenicians is the construction of a symbolic connection with the Other, which is of considerable significance in the configuration of Greek identity. Furthermore, apart from Phoenician alphabets, diverse examples such as purple colors, date palms, and silver bowls indeed exemplify how part of Phoenician culture may well turn out to be instilled into Greek daily life.
The Subjectiles at Work: The Secret Art of The 9 Fridas
Author : Tsu-Chung Su
Keywords : Phillip Zarrilli, Kaite O’Reilly, Frida Kahlo, The 9 Fridas, subjectile, psychophysical acting
The 9 Fridas, one of the feature productions of the 2014 Taipei Arts Festival, was produced by Mobius Strip Theatre Company in association with Hong Kong Repertory Theatre and staged at The Wellspring Theater in Taipei on September 5-7. Directed by Phillip Zarrilli and scripted by Kaite O’Reilly, the production of The 9 Fridas attempted to portray Frida Kahlo (1907-1954) from a wide variety of perspectives. What it evoked, for me, went beyond the theme “ways of looking” designated by the festival organizer and directed our attention to what I term “the subjectiles of Kahlo.” This paper is concerned with Frida Kahlo, a woman of many faces and layers, and The 9 Fridas, a production which claims to offer an alternative interpretation and a refashioned representation of Frida Kahlo. The notion of subjectile is essential to the overall scheme of the paper. As a critical device, it serves both as a method for thematic study and as a tool for aesthetic exploration, and through it we can closely examine the interpretation and performance of Kahlo’s life and art as manifested in the script and the production of The 9 Fridas. In this paper, first of all, I explore the subjectiles of Frida Kahlo in the “Prologue.” Its purpose is not just to highlight the layered complexities of Kahlo’s life, paintings, and legacy but also to chart some trajectories projected from The 9 Fridas. Next, of all the layers and subjectiles, I intend to tease out three unique aspects of The 9 Fridas for discussion— that is, the play’s textiles, actiles, and affectiles—in the hope that we can read both the play and its production as well as Kahlo’s life and paintings anew. Finally this paper attempts to assess the production of The 9 Fridas critically.
Comicality in Long Live the Mistress and the Making of a Chinese Comedy of Manners
Author : Lin Pei-yin
Keywords : comicality, Long Live the Mistress, comedy of manners, Zhang Ailing, Hollywood screwball comedies
This paper examines Wenhua Studio’s 1947 film Long Live the Mistress, an exemplary collaboration between Sang Hu and Zhang Ailing, from the perspective of comedy of manners. More specifically, it explores how the scriptwriter Zhang Ailing has modified the Western model of comedy of manners in consideration of the film’s targeted Chinese audiences. The analysis is divided into three parts. The first part discusses both Sang Hu’s and Zhang Ailing’s emphasis on comedy, analyzing in detail how the former’s use of close-ups, mise-en-scène, and non-diegetic sound as well as the latter’s application of techniques such as conflicts, coincidences, suspense, contrasts, contradictions, and twists in the storyline, have contributed to the film’s comicality. The second part delves into some of Zhang Ailing’s essays. It points out that both convincing characterization and attention to Chinese context, in Zhang’s view, are key elements for great Chinese films. It also explains how Zhang’s characterization in Long Live the Mistress can be see as a parody of the May Fourth radicalism and traditional “talent and beauty” romance. The third part compares the comicality of Long Live the Mistress with the Hollywood screwball comedies, analyzing the film’s various characteristics that make it a good example of Chinese comedy of manners. It concludes that Zhang’s characterization in Long Live the Mistress echoes with her fictional writing, as socialhistorical problems are omitted and individual experience highlighted. It, too, posits that comedy provides Zhang a form through which individual sorrows can be effectively articulated. It is within Zhang’s desolate aesthetics and urban middle-class viewpoint that the comic vision of Long Live the Mistress should be understood. This understanding revises previous scholarship hailing the female protagonist Chen Sizhen as a triumphant embodiment of women’s power.
“This Was My Country – How Could It Not Be?”: On the Significance of Travel in M. G. Vassanji’s The In-Between World of Vikram Lall
Author : Shizen Ozawa
Keywords : The In-Between World of Vikram Lall, M. G. Vassanji, Asian Africans, nationalism, travel
M. G. Vassanji’s The In-between World of Vikram Lall describes how the life of the eponymous protagonist, a third-generation Asian African, is affected by Kenya’s independence struggle and its post-colonial aftermath. This essay analyses how this novel uses the motif of travel in order to explore the possibilities and difficulties for Asian Africans to make East Africa their true home. It is often through travel that the protagonist re-examines some facets of his “Kenyan” identity. This essay first explains how the novel reflects the historical particularities of Asian Africans in colonial East Africa, and how those particularities affect the protagonist’s early life and his sense of belonging. It then discusses the significance of the trip his family takes when he is an eight-year-old boy, analysing how this journey allows him to bracket the instability of his identity and deepen his sense of geo-cultural belonging. Next, the journeys the adult protagonist undertakes in post-independent Kenya are examined. These trips function as occasions to reaffirm his sense of belonging to the country in spite of the deepening political corruption and his own involvement in it. Lastly, the essay explores the importance of Canada, where he hides himself after fleeing Kenya and writes the autobiography that constitutes most of the novel. The geo-cultural distance between Canada and Africa forces the protagonist to question his relationship with Kenya and ultimately makes him decide to go back to the country.