Visions in Exile: Inroads to a 'counter-system' of contemporary Chinese literature

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The study addresses issues of national identity in contemporary Chinese literature by focusing on the tension between writers currently working either inside or outside the official literary system of the PRC. It searches out the imaginative boundaries to this system by reading the discourses that work to maintain it, next to those that try to transcend or overturn it. By following the historical construction of a ‘national literature’ in China in the early twentieth century, it is argued that the concept was conditioned by an idea of ‘world literature’ that went beyond the conventional theoretical bifurcation of ‘Eastern’ and ‘Western’ influences but nonetheless retained much of the symbolic stigmatisation associated with these images of differentiation. Beginning sometime in the 1930s, there can furthermore be seen the emergence of a group of ‘international’ Chinese writers, characterised by exile, translation, and from 1949, literary and political opposition to the system under construction on the mainland. The period from the early to late 1980s provides a watershed in
the inauguration of the ‘counter-system,’ in that it witnessed, on the one hand, an unprecedented internationalisation of literature (and social space in general) at home, and on the other, a rising outpour of writers, moving physically abroad, and sometimes remaining for extended periods or settling down as exiles. The study records these physical and imaginary journeys as well as their various implications to the balance in contemporary global cultural politics.
Original languageEnglish
PublisherDet Humanistiske Fakultet, Københavns Universitet
Number of pages215
Publication statusPublished - 2012

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