Journal Articles

Summer 2006 - Vol.36/No.4
Beginning Anew: Repetition, Narrative Desire, and The Scholars
Author : Yaohua Shi
Keywords : metaphor, metonymy, didactic intention, narrative desire, The Scholars
This article argues that the critical impasse surrounding The Scholars stems from the narrative structure of the novel. Whether one views The Scholars as a committed satire or a “nihilist” text depends on whether one privileges the metaphoric or the metonymic axis of the novel. While metaphor serves to bind the narrative into a critique of the examination system, metonymy, associated with narrative desire, threatens to undermine the didactic message outlined in the prologue. Hence the moral ambiguity of The Scholars.
A Landscape of Mind: Liu E’s Treatment of Time and Space in The Travels of Lao Ts’an
Author : Daniel Y. Hou
Keywords : Liu E 劉鶚, The Travels of Lao Ts’an 老殘遊記, yu-chi ji 遊記, Lake Ming 明湖, the Yellow River 黃河, travels, time, space, self
This paper discusses The Travels of Lao Ts’an in view of traditianal Chinese travel writing and analyzes Liu E’s treatment of time and space. It explores Liu E’s perceived relationship between self, society, and country as expressed in various temporal and spatial relations in the novel. Liu E’s treatment often is infused with urgent private concerns and his descriptions of various locations frequently serve the purpose of self-expression. For example, the scenes of the prologue address Liu E's worries about China’s future and his unpleasant encounters in life, the view of Lake Ming conveys his ambition to draw a picture in words, and the scenery by the Yellow River expresses his qualms in the face of death as well as his pride for past achievements. Far beyond the merit of producing some highly realistic scenes as commented by some scholars, through his adopted journey motif Liu E has written The Travels of Lao Ts’an into a rich story text woven with complex intents and desires, rendering the allotted space inside his fiction as a landscape of mind.
A New Look at an Old Tragedy in Chinese Revolution: Historical Reflections in The South Anhui Incident
Author : Yunzhong Shu
Keywords : "the Culture Fever" (Wenhua re), historiography, Li Ruqing, Karl Mannheim, The New Fourth Army (Xinsijun), revolutionary historical fiction (geming lishe xiaoshuo), The South Anhui incident (Wannan Shibian)
In his 1987 historical novel The South Anhui Incident (Wannan shibian), a controversial product of the Culture Fever raging through China in the 1980s, the veteran writer Li Ruging adopts a cultural approach in his depiction of a major disaster in Chinese revolution. This cultural approach, in contradistinction to official Communist historiography and revolutionary historical fiction, results in the prominent presence of a critical authorial voice, the emphasis on the feudal mentality in the highest Communist ranks and the focus on the psychological experiences behind the decisions and actions leading to the historical tragedy. At the same time, Li Ruqing envisions history as open-ended, multidirectional and full of unrealized potential, thus raising questions about his own highly subjective, biased viewpoint. In the end a conclusion is implied that history is not completely knowable.
True Disbelief: The Poetry of Han Dong
Author : Maghiel Van Crevel
Keywords : contemporary Chinese poetry, Han Dong
Dong 韓東 (1961-) is one of the most important voices in poetry from mainland China. As is true for all other contemporary “avant-garde” poetry, his work continues to stand more or less in opposition to the politico-literary establishment, but to say so has become flogging a dead horse ever since the avant-garde began to outshine this establishment, in the mid-1980s. What concerns us here is that within the avant-garde, some of Han Dong’s best-known work is negatively defined by its rejection of the Obscure poetry (朦朧詩) associated with the unofficial journal Today (今天, 1978-1980). This essay recognizes the significance of Han’s anti-Obscure stand, but shows that negative definition captures only a fraction of his oeuvre in the full breadth of its development. Han’s rejection of Obscure poetry is but one manifestation of a multi-faceted, original poetics that transcends its local literary-historical context.
The Site of Contestation: A Study of Women, Place, and Identity in Chinese and Western Literature
Author : Terry Siu-han Yip
Keywords : autonomy, domesticity, deprivation, gender, home, hysteria, identity, insanity, patriarchy, repression, suppression, victimization, violence
Many Chinese and Western writers often use different geographic locales or place women under various institutions/situations to explore notions of place, gender and identity. Women’s perpetual struggle for voice and space and their conscious or unconscious quest for selfhood and integrity are central concerns of many Chinese and Western literary works published since the late nineteenth century. A close look at such texts as Ibsen's A Doll’s House, Lawrence’s “You Touched Me,” Glaspell's “A Jury of Her Peers,” Cao Yu's Thunderstorm and Li Ang's The Butcher’s Wife shows not only the agonies and sufferings of women in general, but also elucidates how home can easily become a place of threat or fear, a place that subverts individual growth. In the course of their discussions, writers reveal those social, moral, or cultural implications or assumptions at work and try to map out a route of growth or change for their female protagonists.
Transforming and Translating the Form: The Examples of Daniel Defoe and Lin Shu
Author : Yuan-wen Chi
Keywords : Daniel Defoe, Lin Shu, Robinson Crusoe, prose fiction, form, translation, Chinese literature, Western literature, mercantilism, Enlightenment, May Fourth Movement
In the early eighteenth century, as England stood at the threshold of the industrial revolution, Defoe’s experiments with fiction and his attempts to represent the prevailing ideologies of mercantilism and monarchism had a significant impact on shaping the form and development of English prose. Similarly, in China, more than a century later, Lin Shu’s translations of Western literature would change Chinese approaches to story and narrative. Thus, this paper examines Lin Shu’s Chinese translation of Daniel Defoe’s Robinson Crusoe in an attempt to shed light on the evolution of the form in both Western and Eastern cultural contexts. The introduction of Western novels to China at the turn of the twentieth century (ca. 1890) was especially significant as it was the product of numerous heated discourses and dialectics on resisting the invasion of Western imperialist nations. This multi-faceted and wide-ranging discourse involves the short-lived Wu-Xu Reform Movement (1898), the influence of prevailing social Darwinism, and the urgent need to find a new literary vehicle capable of helping resist the foreign encroachment. Standing alone as a landmark in the history of East-West cultural exchange, Lin Shu’s translations of more than 180 Western literary texts helped pave the way for the controversial establishment of the modern Chinese novel, had a tremendous impact on social life and thought in turn-of-the-century China, and finally, in 1919, helped usher in the powerfully influential May Fourth Movement.
From Abroad, with Love: Transnational Texts, Local Critiques
Author : Haiyan Lee
Keywords : love, family, community, public, ethics, Love and Duty, The Education of Love, “Three Generations”
In early twentieth-century China, the introduction of European romanticism not only inspired a new literary genre, but also engendered a social revolution. Romantic love was not just about the thrills of courtship and heterosociability, it was also about breaking free from the Confucian patriarchal family in order to plunge into the exhilarating realms of society and nation. However, beginning in the late 1920s, it became commonplace to lament the failure of free love and to prescribe remedies ranging from returning to the family and renouncing individualism to social service and revolutionary activism. In this paper, I reflect on the responses to the crisis of romantic love from both the conservative and radical circles. My primary sources are three translated texts and the opinions and criticisms they elicited from among Chinese readers: Love and Duty by S. Horose, The Education of Love by Edmondo de Amicis and “Three Generations” by Alexandra Kollontai. I focus on translated texts and their reception to lend support to a mode of comparative literary analysis that emphasizes the circulation of ideas, particularly how translated texts enter into local circulation and are made meaningful in local configurations and contestations. I also hope to show that the backlash against romantic love cannot be reduced to some illiberal streak of “Chinese culture.” By focusing on translated texts, I call attention to the fact that the critique of romanticism was a global discourse that brought together communitarian, nationalist, socialist, and even fascist currents of thought.