Visions of Dystopia in China's New Historical Novels

Hardcover | November 18, 2014

byJeffrey C. Kinkley

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The depiction of personal and collective suffering in modern Chinese novels differs significantly from standard Communist accounts and many Eastern and Western historical narratives. Writers such as Yu Hua, Su Tong, Wang Anyi, Mo Yan, Han Shaogong, Ge Fei, Li Rui, and Zhang Wei skew and scramble common conceptions of China's modern development, deploying avant-garde narrative techniques from Latin American and Euro-American modernism to project a surprisingly "un-Chinese" dystopian vision and critical view of human culture and ethics.

The epic narratives of modern Chinese fiction make rich use of magical realism, surrealism, and unusual treatments of historical time. Also featuring graphic depictions of sex and violence, as well as dark, raunchy comedy, these novels reflect China's recent history re-presenting the overthrow of the monarchy in the early twentieth century and the resulting chaos of revolution and war; the recurring miseries perpetrated by class warfare during the dictatorship of Mao Zedong; and the social dislocations caused by China's industrialization and rise as a global power. This book casts China's highbrow historical novels from the late 1980s to the first decade of the twenty-first century as a distinctively Chinese contribution to the form of the global dystopian novel and, consequently, to global thinking about the interrelations of utopia and dystopia.

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From the Publisher

The depiction of personal and collective suffering in modern Chinese novels differs significantly from standard Communist accounts and many Eastern and Western historical narratives. Writers such as Yu Hua, Su Tong, Wang Anyi, Mo Yan, Han Shaogong, Ge Fei, Li Rui, and Zhang Wei skew and scramble common conceptions of China's modern de...

Jeffrey C. Kinkley is professor of history at St. John's University in New York City. His intellectual history and biographical writings focus on the early twentieth-century writings of Shen Congwen, Xiao Qian, Chen Xuezhao, and their contemporaries. He has also written on recent Chinese fiction about crime, corruption, and the law. H...

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Format:HardcoverDimensions:304 pages, 9 × 6 × 0.98 inPublished:November 18, 2014Publisher:Columbia University PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0231167687

ISBN - 13:9780231167680

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Table of Contents

Preface 1. Introduction: Chinese Visions of History and Dystopia2. Discomforts of Temporal Anomie3. Projections of Historical Repetition4. Alienation from the Group5. Anarchy: Social, Moral, and Cosmic6. Conclusion: The End of History, Dystopia, and "New" Historical Novels?List of Chinese CharactersNotesBibliography Index

Editorial Reviews

By virtue of his knowledge, keen comparative insights, and detailed close readings, Kinkley delivers more than his modest title promises.... China scholars in other disciplines will find much of value in this far-reaching magnum opus. Scholars of contemporary Chinese literature will find it indispensable.