The royal courts of the Yuan and early Ming period pursued a paper currency policy and prohibited silver from being circulated by royal decree. But the uses of silver in daily life and commercial activities could be often seen in the fictions and operas of this era. This is an active reflection of social life of that time, and indicates that the binding force of the royal decrees over the subjects was rather limited. From this we can see that it may not be reliable to take the circulation of silver in fictions as a ground to prove that Outlaws of the Marsh was completed in the first years of Emperor Jiajing’s reign (Jiajing Huangdi 嘉靖 皇帝 CE 1522–1566). The difference between the royal laws and decrees and their effects on real life deserve more analyses by researchers.
If a domesticated translation from Chinese to English can be understood as an act of eurocentrism, then the difficulties in translating Wong Bik-wan’s latest novel Weixi chong xing (The re-walking of Mei-hei, 2014) reveal how this Hong Kong female writer uses language to escape patriarchal and colonial influences. This article examines how Wong makes use of the strategy of writing as a “repressed” individual (both in terms of her subject position and language style). Even though her language and sentences are at times short and dense, and the rhythm is fast, Wong demonstrates how one can reveal more by seemingly saying less. Attempts to reduce her text to a single interpretation have only resulted in failure. If it is hard for the repressed to speak without oppression, Wong illustrates how one can circumvent the constraints through the tactic of evasion, and demonstrates how the repressed can explode from gaps and silence.
The spread of poetry by way of ancient postal service in Tang dynasty is an important subject in studying the development of Tang poetry. The ancient postal system in Tang dynasty included both water route and land route which covered every corner of the country, formed a highly developed and strict system. Besides transmitting government decrees and transporting officials and goods, the ancient postal service also helped the development of Tang poetry. Many historical documents proved that ancient postal service in Tang dynasty ensured an immediate transportation between poets and contributed to the wide-spread of the poetry, and it also served as a bridge between the poets who were in great distance and then helped to form different poetry schools and fashion.
In order to discuss the issue of classifying and categorizing history, this article takes the “Seventeen-Year Literature” as its subject of study. The author states that previous studies conducted on the “Seventeen-Year Literature” (1949–1966) should have been displayed on the following levels: the literary history of the Seventeen Years, the history of the Seventeen Years which was interpreted culturally in the 1980s, the literary history of the Seventeen Years produced in modern literature and the literary history of the Seventeen Years processed in Zai jiedu (A second interpretation). Therefore, the study of the “Seventeen-year Literature” has come forward in leaps and bounds and must not stagnate. Instead, it should take previous research findings and apply them retrospectively to the current structure of knowledge in the hopes of further development. Fixing the “Seventeen-Year Literature” not to a particular historical level, but to the dialogic context is an issue that scholars cannot avoid.
Taiping leshi 太平乐事 (Joy in the time of peace and prosperity) by Cao Yin 曹寅 (1658–1712), is a drama of uniqueness involving exotic subjects. Act 8, entitled The Joyous Japanese Songs, is about the King of Japan paying tribute to the Chinese emperor, and most parts of it are written in Chinese characters carrying only sounds. Cao Yin called the phonetic characters “Woyu” (the Japanese language). But what does this kind of unprecedented “Woyu” intend to convey and what is the historical background behind these “Woyu”? This paper attempts to interpret this drama based on Japanese scholarship on Chinese-Japanese vocabularies compiled in the Ming dynasty, and on research into Cao Yin’s knowledge about Japan through textual analysis.
Of the many forms of literary experimentation that arose in China during the 1980s, Can Xue’s writing stands out as some of the strangest and most enigmatic. This article intends to examine her most significant work from that period, Five Spice Street (Wuxiang jie; first published under the title Breakthrough Performance [Tuwei biaoyan]), in light of one of the major intellectual concerns in literature at the time: the question of the human. Through a close reading of the novel, I investigate the ways in which Can Xue interrogates and destabilizes the notion of the human with regard to the relationship between subject and object, corporeality, animality, sexuality, language, and time. Overall, I suggest that while Can Xue succeeds in offering a unique and provocative conceptualization of the human in Five Spice Street, she also refrains from “breaking through” the general realm of humanist discourse current at the time.
Bert M. Scruggs
This preliminary consideration of genre and memory explores the appearance of colonial Taiwan in the work of Japanese and Taiwan filmmakers. Visuality and identification in cinema, the pragmatic and affective dimensions of memory, and the colonial and postcolonial viewing subject are discussed. Also noted in this essay are the apparatuses of recording and reproducing music and the human voice, ideologies, and time in Taiwan during the twentieth century. The examination of postcolonial and colonial documentaries and postcolonial fiction films suggests that colonial filmmakers often demonstrate a utopian outlook, while postcolonial cinema tends to adopt a dystopian, retrospective gaze. These examinations, in turn, comprise a reflection, on multiple levels, of diegetic register and on the uniquely Taiwanese visual and aural aspects of these multi-lingual films. In summary, this article is an attempt to highlight the powerful and sometimes subversive uses of film in the propagation and circulation of a postcolonial Taiwanese identity which transcends national boundaries, and the polarizing, moribund research that they engender, so that scholars might better understand the postcolonial condition.
Starring Jet Li (Li Lianjie), directed by Tsui Hark (Xu Ke), and set in the turn of the century Guangdong Province, China, the martial arts trilogy Once upon a Time in China raises a number of questions concerning history, China-West dichotomy, the dilemma of Chinese modernity, the structure of the “feminizing” gaze, and Westernized Chinese subjectivity. It has been suggested that Once upon a Time in China is a deliberate effort to retell and rediscover the past, and constitutes part of a response to the “Western gaze”—a (re)affirmation of Chinese masculinity and cultural superiority—and therefore augments the “materiality of Chinese identity.” This study, by revisiting this old series, tries to address these points with the intention of demonstrating contradictions in the discourse regarding Chinese cultural identity and modernization and thereby creating a consciousness of the disjunctures, discontinuities, and most importantly, the inherent hybridity in Chinese culture and identity. The recognition of a mutually feminizing gaze between the West and the East reveals orientalism to be a cultural logic that lies in the center of the “truly traumatic experience” of the post-colonial subject.
This essay explores different seventeenth-century accounts of the fall of the Ming dynasty in 1644—Chinese vernacular novels and literati memoirs, Jesuit histories, and Dutch poetry and plays—to investigate a developing notion of openness in both Europe and China. In Europe, the idea of openness helped to construct an early-modern global order based on the free flow of material goods, religious beliefs, and shared information. In these accounts, China’s supposed refusal to open itself to the world came to represent Europe’s Other, an obstacle to the liberal global order. In doing so, however, European accounts drew on Chinese popular sources that similarly embraced openness, albeit openness of a different kind, that is the direct and unobstructed communication between ruler and subject. This is not to say that Chinese late-Ming accounts of the fall of the Ming are the source of European ideals of liberalism, but rather to suggest that, at a crucial early-modern moment of globalization, European authors misapprehended late-Ming ideals of enlightened imperial rule so as to consolidate their own worldview, foreclosing late-Ming ideals in the process.
This article explores the stylistic innovations in the Ancient-Style Verse (gutishi 古體詩), and particularly in the subgenre of gexing 歌行, from the Late Qing to the 1930s and 1940s. It argues that the relative free prosody of the Ancient-Style allowed innovation disguised as restoration. Yet, instead of being the prelude to modern vernacular poetry, the innovations in this genre may have found an end in themselves—namely, creating a style of verse which showed a unique combination of modern elements and deliberate stylistic archaism. Its lyric archaism and innovation were formulated in dialectical terms, which have been frequently evoked in the reformative moments of the Chinese tradition. This paper examines the evolution of the new gexing style through the close reading of a few gexing poems by Huang Zunxian 黃遵憲 (1848−1905), Liang Qichao 梁啟超 (1873−1929), Lin Gengbai 林庚白 (1896−1941), and Liu Yazi 柳亞子 (1887−1958). Given the rise of vernacular poetry since 1917, the poems of Lin and Liu may be called the Classicist Verse, which represents the author’s conscious choice to elaborate on the subject matter using a particular classical genre, when other modern genres are available. In the end, I will also discuss the gexing style verses by Li Sichun 李思純 in the translation of multi-stanza European poetry, as a practice in accord to the indigenization agenda of the Critical Review magazine.