Fictionality and Reality in Narrative Discourse: A Reading of Four Contemporary Taiwanese Writers

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Universal-Publishers, 20. 1. 2000. - 178 страница

This dissertation is an attempt to define a Chinese "modernism," exemplified by the narrative practices of four major writers in Taiwan today, from the perspective of comparative literature and recent development of literary theory. I propose that modernity of Taiwanese fiction is not so much a result of Western influences as an evolution of Chinese narrative tradition itself. To argue my point I delineate a poetics of Chinese narrative, from which I devise a method of reading and a criterion of evaluation for contemporary Taiwanese fiction in defining its achievement and historical significance. This study of Taiwanese fiction also aims at providing a better understanding of fundamental aesthetic assumptions of Western "modernism" in the context of its own literary tradition.

Chapter One, "Introduction," investigates the theoretical foundation and its line of development in Western and Chinese poetics respectively. It first examines the Platonic view of mimesis and Aristotelian aesthetic view of fictionality and their influence on the critical tradition, the continuity of the ancient battle between philosophy and poetry as seen in the structuralist and deconstructionist theories, then the relationship between subjective fictionality and ironic objectivity in Chinese poetics, the continuity of the dilemma in the Chinese novelists in their dual allegiance to the ideal and the real. A final section gives a critical overview of the literary scene in Taiwan.

The following four chapters provide examples of the internal tension between fictionality and ironic awareness in the Taiwanese modernist texts. I suggest that instead of stretching the metaphorical potential of fiction to a highly intellectualized abstraction or playing down the interpretive claims of fiction by dramatizing its vulnerability like their Western counterpart, the Taiwanese modernists create their texts on the borderline between the high and the low. Self-assertive as well as self-denying, each of them confronts his own intellectual vision with paradox and ambivalence. In Ch'en Ying-chen, this is expressed as a battle between a lyrical vision of ideological values and an instinctive self-clowning, in Ch'i-teng Sheng, as a form of competition between pattern and contingency, in Wang Chen-ho, as a celebration and abuse of the fictionality of fiction, and in Wang Wen-hsing, an intense self-parody. I conclude that the sensitivity to the irrational and contradiction, inherent with a resistance to didacticism, constitutes the best part of the Chinese humanistic tradition, which is continuously enriched with new dimensions by the contemporary Taiwanese writers.

 

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Садржај

Chapter Page
1
THEAPOCALYPTIC IMAGINATION
62
ART AS A PROCESS OF LIFE
85
THE FICTIVE AND THE REAL
105
THE NOVEL AGAINST ITSELF
129
CONCLUSION
154

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Страница 10 - There is one point at which the moral sense and the artistic sense lie very near together; that is, in the light of the very obvious truth that the deepest quality of a work of art will always be the quality of the mind of the producer.
Страница 9 - Only the poet, disdaining to be tied to any such subjection, lifted up with the vigour of his own invention, doth grow in effect into another nature, in making things either better than Nature bringeth forth, or, quite anew - forms such as never were in Nature...
Страница 9 - Neither let it be deemed too saucy a comparison to balance the highest point of man's wit with the efficacy of Nature ; but rather give right honour to the heavenly Maker of that maker, who, having made man to His own likeness, set him beyond and over all the works of that second nature : which in nothing he showeth so much as in Poetry, when with the force of a divine breath He bringeth things forth far surpassing her doings...
Страница 10 - The primary IMAGINATION I hold to be the living power and prime Agent of all human Perception, and as a repetition in the finite mind of the eternal act of creation in the infinite I AM.
Страница 11 - Renaissance, is transformed in these writers into the mythical imagination for which historical time does not exist — the imagination that sees the actions and events of a particular time merely as the bodying forth of eta^L_plOtptyj>es.
Страница 9 - ... good : which setting forward, and moving to well-doing, indeed, setteth the laurel crown upon the poets as victorious ; not only of the historian, but over the philosopher, howsoever, in teaching, it may be questionable.
Страница 10 - Fancy, on the contrary, has no other counters to play with but fixities and definites. The fancy is indeed no other than a mode of memory emancipated from the order of time and space...

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