Journal Articles

Winter 2004 - Vol.35/No.2
Identity in Chinese Literature of the Twentieth Century: Its Margins and Diaspora
Author : Milan V. Dimié
Keywords :
The Dandy and the Woman: Liu Na’ou and Neo-Sensationism
Author : Peng Hsiao-yen
Keywords : the Dandy, Neo-Sensationism, cosmopolitanism, flaneur
Liu Na’ou (1905-1940), born in Taiwan and studied English literature at Aoyama College in Tokyo, went to Shanghai in 1926 to study French at L’Universite L’Aurore. In the late 1920s he became the leader of the newly emerging Neo-Sensationists, a group of modernist writers. Like the New Woman and the Dandy portrayed in his works, he displayed his cosmopolitan identity through multilingual speech, European dress and lifestyle. Rumor had it that he was a Fukienese, a Japanese, or a Taiwanese born of a Japanese mother. In 1998 his diary written in 1927 was discovered. It revealed for the first time that both of his parents came from wealthy Taiwanese families. Through this diary we have a clearer view of him as a dandy in life and art. Indul ging in sensual pleasures and constatly seeking the company of women of loose virtues, he considers women as creatures unable to pursue intellectual activities or attain spiritual perfection, disclosing the misogyny typical of dandyism. He is a flaneur who frequents the streets of the cosmopolitan city, looking for the image of “la modernite” as imprinted in unknown women’s faces. A follower of Baudelaire’s modernist art, he is a living demonstration of Foucault’s interpretation of Baudelaire’s flaneur: he “has an aim loftier than that of a mere flaneur . . . (he is) looking for that quality which (is called) ‘modernity’”.
Colonization and Cultural Space in Wu Chuo-liu’s The Orphan in Asia
Author : I-chun Wang
Keywords : cultural identity, cultural space, colonized space, assimilation, exclusion policy
Wu Chuo-liu’s novel The Orphan in Asia (1976) treats with great sympathy and sadness the issue of Taiwan's identity-confusion as a colony of Imperial Japan (1845-1945). The novel, set in Taiwan in the 1930’s and 1940’s, shows the degree to which Taiwan had been totally subjected to the imperial power of the Japanese empire, colonized by this hegemonic colonizing force. The protagonist Tai-Ming moves from an early sense of sympathy with the colonizers, an eagerness to be “assimilated,” to an increasingly hostile stance toward the Japanese government, its agents and soldiers who are controlling his Taiwanese homeland. He comes to see that he can never, as he had once thought, “become Japanese,” that as long as Japan rules Taiwan he must forever be a non-citizen, a no-self (because non-Japanese) from the perspective of the rulers. Here the novel’s central issues of ethnic and cultural identity—particularly complex in the case of Taiwan, since the potential confusion of Taiwanese-Chinese identity had already existed, in this island province of China, for centuries before Japan took control in 1895—are interpreted in terms of current theories of identity as (or in relation to) space: individual, social and linguistic space, the space of the “body” (individual and socio-political), cultural space and colonized space.
Zhang Wei and the Soul of Rural China
Author : Terence C. Russell
Keywords : Zhang Wei, nativism, rural China, landscape, Daoism, mysticism, naturalism, literary creation, Heidegger, September Fable
Zhang Wei has made a reputation for himself as a fierce defender of the traditional culture of China’s rural areas, especially that of his home province of Shangdong. For this reason he is often considered a “nativist” (xiangtu zuojia). He has been compared to Faulkner, for his preoccupation with the life of the small region of Shandong where he grew up and still spends much of his time. Others have seen him as sharing territory with the “root-seeking” (xungen) school for his consistent reference to Chinese cultural traditions and for his romantic idealism. His later writing style, at least as evidenced in September Fable and subsequent fiction, is probably best described as “magic realism,” or “new realism.” This paper explores the contribution that Zhang Wei makes in freeing China’s rural spaces from their role in contemporary social and political discourse as symbols of conservatism, ignorance and poverty. Rural China is often contrasted with the bourgeoning urban landscape which is generally seen to embody the positive values of progress, enlightenment and prosperity. Using his essay “Blending into the Untamed Land” (Rongru yedi) as the main point of reference, this article explores the manner in which Zhang reverses the field. He depicts the urban environment as corrupt and artificial, while the “untamed land” offers that which is genuine and pure. For him, the significance of the countryside is not primarily cultural and economic, but spiritual and artistic. He argues that rural people, through their labour and their intimate, physical contact with the ancient land, have maintained an intuitive unity with Nature and its mysterious forces.
Geographical Space and Cultural Identity: Self in the Age of Globalization
Author : Terry Siu-hap Yip
Keywords : dislocation, globalization, identity formation, location, modernization, self, space, subjectivity, technology
The conventional way of viewing the self or a place as bound, fixed and unproblematic in its identity comes to be challenged when contemporary writers such as Tie Ning, Xi Xi, Ye Si, and Gao Xingjian examine the impact of globalization on the individual. In their selected texts, these writers show how newly developed space enables their protagonists to develop a new form of consciousness characterized by a better understanding of their selves in relation to the world in general and to their sexual other in particular. They adopt different writing strategies in their portrayal of characters with heightened subjectivity—individuals who attempt to locate themselves in the rapidly changing world. Some seek to redefine their positions amidst the torrents of globalization, while others attempt to create new space for the realization of their selves. Locality ceases to mean just the geographical space or locale where events take place. Instead, geographical space is presented as the site of tension and confrontation, where issues pertaining to the construction or deconstruction of the self and the formation of identity are being discussed, questioned and challenged.
Voicing Identity Confusion in Contemporary Hong Kong Writing
Author : Kwok-kan Tam
Keywords : decolonization, home, street-scapes, floating self, urban transformation, postcolonial voices, cultural in-betweenness
Identity has long been a problem in colonial and postcolonial societies. It is particularly so in Hong Kong society, in which there is not only the transition from tradition to modernity, but also the confusion between the East and the West. However, it is this transition as well as confusion that has given Hong Kong writers, writing in English or Chinese, a dynamic space for imagination in creative writing. Over the past half century, Hong Kong has developed from a colonial regional city to a postcolonial metropolis, from Britain’s borrowed place to China’s gateway to the world, and from a meeting point between the East and the West to a place recognized as the hub of Cantonese culture. Hong Kong people, especially the writers, feel the transition more so today than fifty years ago, not just because of the speed of the transformation, but also because of sudden awakening of Hong Kong as a (post/)colonial anomaly. This paper seeks to address issues of identity construction, search and confusion against the background of Hong Kong’s social and political transition in the mid—1980s to mid—1990s. If a nation is an imagined community, then Hong Kong writers’ imagination of their relation to a nation is an imagination of an imagined community, in which the Hong Kong imaginary of identity is no more than a linguistic construction in a postmodernist fashion.
Looking for Zhu Ling: Self-Identity in Li Yongping’s Yuxue feifei
Author : TEE Kim Tong
Keywords : Li Yongping, Yuxue feifei, self-exile, cultural identity, personal identity
The present paper argues that the primary concern of Li Yongping’s Yuxue feifei: Poluozhou tongnian jishi [Snowflakes flying: Chronicle of my Borneo childhood] (2002) is not the representation of his national and cultural identities, despite his dramatization of related topics in certain episodes/chapters of the novel/memoir, but an inward journey in search of his self or personal identity. By the same token, Li employs this journey as narrative frame not so much to frame his recollections of a tropical homeland but as a frame of reference or lens through which we may view his introspective journey into the heart of darkness. Having chosen a life of self-imposed exile in Taiwan, Li Yongping the protagonist/Li Yongping the author, being estranged by the decadence of metropolitan Taiwanese culture, turns to an inward journey by writing/telling the past and hence finding his self or personal identity in an imaginary homeland.
Gold Mountain 金山 and Maple Leaf 楓葉: Identity and Landscape in Chinese Canadian Literature
Author : Jennifer W. Jay
Keywords : Chinese-Canadian, Gold Mountain, hybridity, identity, immigrant, landscape
The last quarter century has witnessed a tremendous production of Chinese Canadian writings, among which about a dozen titles have won national awards and thus attracted a wide readership and considerable academic interest. The primary purpose of this paper is to contextualize local-born and immigrant writings and to examine the configuration of Chinese identity and Canadian landscape. While some local-born writers construct their Canadian identity and Chinese culture from Tangshan legends in China and from the injustices suffered by their ancestors in Canada’s Gold Mountain, the immigrant authors draw upon their Chinese cultural and literary traditions to configure a component of Canadian identity by appropriating the maple leaf as the literary symbol of the adopted country. The local-born authors’ search for their roots and the immigrants’ construction of a new identity means a blending of two cultural traditions, drawing from a Chinese ancestry and a Canadian life experience to create a hybrid Chinese-Canadian literary culture.
From Australia to Canada: A Conversation with Sneja Gunew
Author : Yiu-nam Leung
Keywords : multiculturalism, postcolonialism, diaspora, flexible citizenship, hybridity, transculturalism
The interviewer, a visiting scholar at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, Canada in 2001, met Sneja Gunew, an important figure in the fields of Postcolonial Theory, Feminist Theory, Critical Multicultural Theory and Minority Literatures in English, and discussed with her at length various issues centering on multiculturalism, postcolonialism, food, language, and identity.