This article analyzes two literary works by the Czech writer, Julius Zeyer (1841-1901), and Lu Xun (1881-1936) by elaborating upon two different myths concerning the Archer Hou Yi. These myths were presented by the missionary and Sinologist William Frederick Mayers in The Chinese Reader’s Manual: A Handbook of Biographical, Historical, Mythological and General Literary References (1874), and other Chinese sources. Zeyer highlighted the first myth, which was connected with the Emperor Yao and showed Hou Yi shooting arrows at the nine suns appearing together in the heavens, and Lu Xun preferred the second myth, where the Archer Yi rebelled against the Emperor Tai Kang, whom he drove from the Capital, and later was killed by Han Zhuo. The myth of Chang E who flew to the moon is described only by Lu Xun.
While Lu Xun’s early works of fiction have long established his literary reputation, this article focuses on the form and content of his zawen essays written several years later, from 1925 to 1927. Examining the zawen from Huagai ji, Huagai ji xubian (sequel), and Eryi ji (Nothing more), the author views these as “transitional” essays which demonstrate an emergent self-consciousness in Lu Xun’s writing. Through close reading of a selection of these essays, the author considers the ways in which they point toward a state of crisis for Lu Xun, as well as a means of tackling his sense of passivity and “petty matters.” This crisis-state ultimately yields a new literary form unique to the era, a form which represents a crucial source of Chinese modernity. From sheer impossibility and a “negating spirit” emerges a new and life-affirming possibility of literary experience.
Since its establishment, the Ming dynasty was troubled by border issues and foreign threats. This situation worsened in the sixteenth century with the Japanese piracy crisis, the Manchu threat from the northeast, the European mariners armed with advanced weaponry in Canton, and especially Toyotomi Hideyoshi’s (1537–98) Korean expedition, which severely challenged the suzerainty of China. Written in the last years of the sixteenth century, when Ming imperial authority was perceived to be on decline both at home and abroad, Xiyang ji takes Sino-foreign relations as its primary thematic concern. This paper examines how the foreign “others” are imagined in Xiyang ji. Although Xiyang ji attempts to affirm the age-old myth of the Sinocentric world order by demonizing foreign others and subsuming the outside world within the Chinese order, it also demonstrates a genuine interest in foreign culture and an awareness of cultural relativity. Most importantly, through presenting fearful encounters experienced by the Chinese fleets in foreign lands, Xiyang ji highlights the glaring gap between the old myth of the Sinocentric world order, whereby the foreign others were seen as tribute subjects, and the new reality, in which foreign countries fight fiercely for their status as independent entities. I argue that, in using warfare to reimagine Sino-foreign relations, Xiyang ji draws attention to foreign threats, the limits of the old knowledge system, and the urgency of learning more about the outside world, thus signaling the beginning of a process whereby Chinese scholars gradually ceased to identify China as the center of the world.
This article is about the movies from Chinese mainland under the production category of minority cinema (shaoshu minzu dianying), between the years 1940 and 1963. It argues that the taxonomic effort of grouping different non-Han ethnicities together into a single category of minority cinema is a sociopolitical attempt to construct, maintain and control the definition of ethnic minorities. It calls into question not what is within the film, but the classificatory practices outside of the film collectively engaged by the government, the film industry, the critics and the mass audience. Moving away from the methods of examining the representation and generic conventions of the cinema other scholarship has employed, this article emphasizes the classification system used during the time of the cinema. By comparing it with a similar classificatory problem in Western national history, using an epistemological perspective, this article criticizes the negative impact inevitably left in rhetorically driven classification systems.
This paper focuses on the “rectification of names” (zhengming 正 名), an important and recurrent motif in the writings produced by Liu Shipei 劉師培 (1884–1919) before he betrayed the anti-Qing revolution. On the one hand, Liu has argued that the Chinese signifying system should be modified in response to the challenges posed by the West. On the other hand, he also understood that, within the prevailing imperialist world order, China’s acceptance of this universal law entailed the acceptance of an inferior position vis-à-vis the dominant world powers. Liu’s interpretation of the “rectification of names” was aimed at overcoming the boundaries between the West and China, and ultimately led him to support a radical anarchist revolution. Therefore, Liu Shipei’s approach to the “rectification of names” is representative of the way in which late Qing intellectuals responded to the great clashes between the traditional and the modern, the West and the East. One might argue that the discourse surrounding the “rectification of names” brought about a moment of “origin,”—that is to say, a moment of reconstructing the relationship between names and things—the scope of which was not limited to China. In this context, the political utopia conceptualized by Liu Shipei can be regarded as one explicit form of the “rectification of names.” Thus, the different ways in which Liu Shipei, Zhang Taiyan 章太炎 (1868–1936; also known as Zhang Binglin 章炳麟), and Lu Xun approach the problem of language suggest their different visions of the future of China.