Since the late 1970s China has implemented sweeping economic reforms for almost 40 years. At the same time, it has not officially adjusted its previous moral code. As a result, the country is now faced with a widespread moral crisis characterized by greed and anomie. To offer a remedy for this crisis in his novel The Door of the Sheep (1999), Li Peifu, a noted writer from Henan Province, creates a village leader intent on maintaining his authoritative moral position as a shepherd by restraining his corporeal desires and exercising his authority on his flock and for his flock. In a subsequent novel entitled Gold House (2000), Li highlights the pervasive moral disorientation in a village where nobody assumes a pastoral position. The present article analyzes these two novels in connection with the sociopolitical environment of contemporary China. Special attention will be paid to Li’s interpretation of human selfishness as the root cause of the moral crisis and his attempt to offer a politically feasible and morally effective solution.
This article examines Liu Cixin’s “The Western Ocean” (Xiyang ), a story in which Liu satirizes Zheng He’s voyages into the Indian Ocean and presents an alternate history of China from the fifteenth century to the present. The combination of China’s imagined future and the historical memory of its past provides a political and social commentary on the Chinese narrative of “peaceful rise.” “The Western Ocean” is also a good example of how the subgenre of alternate history can become a tool for Chinese writers to tactfully express their concerns and criticism of contemporary world politics while strict restrictions on the media and internet, as well as self-censorship among PRC intellectuals in general, still prevail in the country.
Mao Dun’s seminal trilogy Eclipse was written in 1927–1928, directly after the failed Nanchang uprising. The trilogy is exceptional at least in part because it contains the author’s frustration and inner conflict that came from trying to understand this devastating loss. In 1954, while he served as the Minister of Culture for the People’s Republic of China, Mao Dun made fundamental and sweeping edits to all three novels. He made changes in an effort to suit the changed political situation, to make his narrative voice more consistent, to make his characters more stereotypical, and in some cases, to tone down the more explicit sensuality of the original texts. However, through an analysis of these alterations, this paper shows that the edited edition is a diminished work.
In the context of a global subcontracting system that pushes workers toward a race to the bottom, the present article explores assertions for dignified labor in the Foxconn workers’ actions and in the literary texts Na’er (2004) and Heroes Everywhere (2005), as well as in the film The Piano in a Factory (2011). By tracing the dialectical relationship between memories of dignified labor during the high socialist era, and critical expressions of present day degradation, the article finds a shift from the critique of global capital to proactive nostalgia for the previous era. Proactive nostalgia goes beyond the perception of China’s high socialist era as traumatic. What is absent in the Foxconn labor experience, but still alive in workers’ unconscious, is a world of dignified labor. By documenting how labor was once imbued with dignity in the recent past, these texts function as prosthetic memories for the next generation of workers, and a cultural resource for overcoming the current trauma of dehumanizing working conditions.
“Intersemiotic translation” is categorized by Roman Jakobson as one of three types of translation. Translation of illustrations in the late Qing novels, either directly from verbal signs or visual signs, can also be regarded as a typical kind of “intersemiotic translation.” The present article studies illustrations in Chinese Christian literature in the late Qing period, especially those in the Chinese translations of John Bunyan’s works, The Pilgrim’s Progress and The Holy War . Questions to ponder are how inter-semiotic translation occurs between these illustrations—in either transferring or transplanting the meanings from one sign system to another—and how it establishes its legitimacy through religious negotiation, ideological conflict, and cultural integration. The illustrations in the Chinese translation versions of The Pilgrim’s Progress manifest the translators’ and illustrators’ manipulation of repertoires of Chinese religious signs, thereby indigenizing a foreign religion. These illustrations, nevertheless, are not only associated with Christianity, but also with the long-lasting visual signs of Chinese culture. Hence these translated illustrations could be considered as a type of “Translated Christianity.”
In extant Chinese poetry, there are a considerable number of poems composed on the theme of “Observing Female Entertainers” from the fifth through ninth centuries. Through an examination of such poems, this paper traces the changes in male poets’ views of female entertainers: from placing female entertainers and their performances in a broader context of a pleasant moment, to focusing on the details of female entertainers and their performances, as well as from treating female entertainers as a medium for poets’ self-reflection to desiring intimate relationships with them. This paper shows how this change in perception and representation of female entertainers by male poets not only indicates the development of the entertainment system, but also evidences a new function of this subgenre of poetry.
This article examines the social and psychological function of the “scar” metaphor at the turn from the late 1970s to the early 1980s. We propose that the widely employed scar metaphor, which was first created in the scar literature movement of the late 1970s and early 1980s, enabled Chinese readers to “work through” the blend of psychological and ideological disquietude that lingered after the Cultural Revolution. We will first clarify how the scar metaphor facilitated this process of “working through,” using as an example Lu Xinhua’s “The Scar” (Shanghen ). We will then describe how the scar metaphor became dispersed throughout Chinese popular culture and enabled a broad spectrum of Chinese readers to participate in a similar process. At both levels of analysis, we will argue that the scar metaphor simultaneously provides a literary space for working through personal trauma and related anxieties about the ideological transition during this socio-political change.