Skip to Main Content
Have library access? Log in through your library
The Columbia Sourcebook of Literary Taiwan

The Columbia Sourcebook of Literary Taiwan

Sung-sheng Yvonne Chang
Michelle Yeh
Ming-ju Fan
Copyright Date: 2014
Pages: 592
  • Cite this Item
  • Book Info
    The Columbia Sourcebook of Literary Taiwan
    Book Description:

    This sourcebook contains more than 160 documents and writings that reflect the development of Taiwanese literature from the early modern period to the twenty-first century. Selections include seminal essays in literary debates, polemics, and other landmark events; interviews, diaries, and letters by major authors; critical and retrospective essays by influential writers, editors, and scholars; transcripts of historical speeches and conferences; literary-society manifestos and inaugural journal prefaces; and governmental policy pronouncements that have significantly influenced Taiwanese literature.

    These texts illuminate Asia's experience with modernization, colonialism, and postcolonialism; the character of Taiwan's Cold War and post--Cold War cultural production; gender and environmental issues; indigenous movements; and the changes and challenges of the digital revolution. Taiwan's complex history with Dutch, Spanish, and Japanese colonization; strategic geopolitical position vis-à-vis China, Japan, and the United States; and status as a hub for the East-bound circulation of technological and popular-culture trends make the nation an excellent case study for a richer understanding of East Asian and modern global relations.

    eISBN: 978-0-231-53754-4
    Subjects: Language & Literature, History

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-xxii)
    (pp. xxiii-xxvi)
  4. Introduction: Literary Taiwan—An East Asian Contextual Perspective
    (pp. 1-36)

    Over the last fifteen years or so, editors of this volume have been approached by colleagues in various disciplines—literature, history, anthropology, and film, cultural, and media studies—seeking background information as they try to incorporate Taiwanese literature into their college-level courses. There are, moreover, unmistakable signs of growing recognition in the field of East Asian studies of the interconnectedness of cultural developments across the region and of important issues that have not been adequately addressed by existing scholarship, which tends to focus on national cultures and, in most cases, specifically on the cultural traditions of the more powerful political...

  5. PART I The Beginnings and Entry Into Modernity Through Colonial Mediation (1728–1948)

    • 1. Preface to Volume 1 of Jade Ruler Between Sky and Sea (1728)
      (pp. 39-40)

      . . . Taiwan is a beautiful place where mountains and oceans meet. An island of singular peaks in the midst of a vast ocean, it is permeated with an air of profundity and magnificence. Where there is a concentration of divine spirituality, there are bound to be men of elegance and refinement. Besides, in recent years [Taiwan] has benefited from the imperial policy of peace and edification; through ever-deeper immersion, it has been transformed by the Way. Every household is versed in music and poetry; people elevate themselves and contribute to the flourishing of literature and arts. Of the...

    • 2. Preface to Collection of Coral Branches (Eighteenth Century)
      (pp. 40-41)

      What isCollection of Coral Branches? It is the name for the literary writings by men from east of the ocean. What are coral branches? They are branches of coral reef. The ocean is so vast that it contains everything; the rarest treasures in the world are all found within. Why coral? Did not Du Fu say: “On the wind the Royal Attendant rides / Literary brilliance like a coral branch”? To compare literature to coral is to confer high value on it and at the same time to suggest its difficulty. Difficulty lies in the [harvesting of coral] branches....

    • 3. Preface Number 5 (by the Author) (1816)
      (pp. 41-42)
      ZHANG FU

      Poetry arises from emotion. In my youth, I was enamored of poetry; in adulthood, I wrote poems on many topics; now in old age, I have not stopped chanting poetry. I have no idea why I have sustained the passion for six decades. I used to think my life would be complete if I could travel around the country and express my feelings along the way like the poet Mr. Huang Wuye [1524–1590]. It is a pity, however, that I always threw up when I was aboard a ship. After exhausting myself by embarking on three voyages to take...

    • 4. Ars Poetica (Mid-nineteenth Century)
      (pp. 42-42)
    • 5. Elucidating the Meaning of Literature
      (pp. 42-44)

      When it comes to the meaning of literature, views differ, and there has been no consensus in China since antiquity. In Japan or Western countries, it has a variety of meanings too. Literary language in my country has a long history. The word “literary” (wen) contrasts with “martial” (wu); it is also the collective term for learning, as seen in this statement by Emperor Wen [187–226] of the Wei dynasty: “Literary writing is a grand enterprise of governing the world and a noble endeavor of lasting value.” To give a recent example, in Japan before 1885, the educational structure...

    • 6. Congratulations on the Founding of the Taiwan Literary Society
      (pp. 44-45)

      That which one intends to articulate and comes forth from the mouth are spoken words. However, spoken words are inadequate for reaching into the past and the present and illuminating both. That is why writing comes into being. Writing replaces the mouth with the brush as the vehicle; it replaces the listening ear with the observing eye. Thus, spoken and written words complement one another and expand the horizon of world literature.

      . . . Every time I read the history of evolution, I cannot help sighing over the fact that writing is a powerful pioneer. When it comes to...

    • 7. On the New Mission to Promote Vernacular Writing
      (pp. 45-48)

      The fact that I promote vernacular writing does not mean I have conducted excellent studies on it; I have never done any at all. But I felt the urgency and, with this clumsy article of mine, want to call your attention to the matter. I hope that you will be motivated to engage in the research and promotion [of vernacular writing] in order to advance our culture. I went to China in June earlier this year and witnessed the popularization of the vernacular and its great benefits. It made me more convinced that it was necessary to promote vernacular writing....

    • 8. On Reforming Classical Chinese
      (pp. 48-50)

      “Hey Chaoqin! The vernacular writing you advocate is too plain, too simple. It lacks authority and has no artistic value whatsoever.”

      Sir, what you say about vernacular writing being “too plain, too simple” is undeniably the case, but I find it hard to agree with you that it “lacks authority” and has “no artistic value.” Yes, classical Chinese is truly elegant and artistic, but it cannot reach people from all classes and is only for experts. Living in modern times, we cannot perpetuate [the status quo].

      Regardless of nationality, language must not be the private possession of the select few....

    • 9. A Letter to the Youth of Taiwan
      (pp. 50-51)

      I have been toiling overseas these past few years and have not had the chance to work alongside you, or even to speak with you. What a shame! For a long time now, I have wanted to say a few—in my view, very important—words to you, but I have not found a suitable occasion. I have remained quiet until now, but my silence has become too much to bear. Therefore, I want to take this opportunity to talk with you. The chaos in the world has bankrupted the old civilizations, but new morals, new schools of thought, and...

    • 10. The Awful Literary Scene of Taiwan
      (pp. 51-54)

      The literary scene of Taiwan has come alive in recent years! Its liveliness is unprecedented in history. Look around: poetry clubs and poetry gurus are ubiquitous. Even the general public is enthusiastically engaged with literature. This indeed is a phenomenon worthy of envy and celebration. It goes without saying that we should expect to see many excellent works to come. Seizing this opportunity, we ought to cultivate a few shining stars to illuminate the literary circle, so as not to waste such a grand scene and dash our high hopes. Perhaps in doing so, we may cast a shaft of...

    • 11. On Reading “A Comparison of Old and New Literature” in the Taiwan Daily News
      (pp. 54-55)
      LAN YUN

      1. The New Literature movement is triggered by the influence of Western learning. Therefore, there is no denying that it is westernized. However, it is also true that it has limited immersion in the times and has yet to achieve its objective, which is the unity of the tongue and the tip of the pen. . . .

      2. The tools of the old literature were incomplete from the start. Moreover, its readers were the elites—the so-called literati—and they disdained any connections with the illiterate masses. Therefore, [the old literature] could only be concise, and it valued conciseness...

    • 12. Diary
      (pp. 56-57)
      LIU NA’OU

      The rain never let up, so I stayed upstairs and went on reading Takasu Yoshijiro’s [1880– 1948]Sixteen Lectures on Literature of the East[1926]. There was nothing original in it, just the sort of ordinary lectures on the history of Chinese literature for beginners, and I finished it by noon.

      In the afternoon, I read the copy ofPopular Historical Romance of the Twenty-four Historiesthat I found at the bottom of the bookcase. It was compiled by Lü Fu¹ (a.k.a. Lü Anshi) of Xinchang, Zhejiang Province, and proofed by his three sons. The book is too crude and...

    • 13. Advance
      (pp. 57-59)
      LAN YUN

      One very dark night, the sky was so profoundly black that it prevented the starlight from filtering down to Earth. The gloom was deeper even than what one may find many meters underground. The terrifying dark was unprecedented.

      On Earth blanketed by the dark, two children were abandoned by their mother. The children’s history was unclear; it was not known whether they had left home looking for their mother who had disappeared, or whether they were stepsons who had been chased away by their stepmother because of disobedience.

      They knew neither the place where they were nor what direction to...

    • 14. The Solitary Spirits League and the Anarchist Theater Movement
      (pp. 59-63)

      After the Black Youth League was reported to the authorities, it appeared as though the activities of Taiwan’s anarchists had been overwhelmed and clearly weakened by Communism. Yet notably there were still organizations such as the Solitary Spirits League and anarchists such as Zhang Qishi (Beggar Zhang) that formed the New Theater movement.

      The Solitary Spirits League was the name of an anarchist study group. It was initiated by the anarchist Inagaki Toubei, who ran the Inae Private School for the poor. A consistent advocate of local education, he united the anarchists in Taiwan to form the group. . ....

    • 15. Why Not Promote Nativist Literature?
      (pp. 63-66)

      You are a Taiwanese standing under Taiwanese sky and on Taiwanese earth. Your eyes witness Taiwanese things and your ears hear Taiwanese news. You experience Taiwanese time and speak the Taiwanese tongue. Therefore, your pen of sharp articulation, your pen of colorful creation, should write Taiwanese literature.

      How does one write Taiwanese literature? By using the Taiwanese vernacular in essays, poems, fiction, and songs to describe Taiwanese things. This is nothing strange, but why have we not done so? “It is crude. It is vulgar,” some hardheaded classicists argue. But how does one define elegance and vulgarity? In fact, there...

    • 16. Annotation on Three-Six-Nine Little Gazette
      (pp. 66-67)
      XIN AN

      Why do we call this periodical “little gazette” instead of “big gazette”? The reason is none other than this. On Taiwan’s intellectual scene today, besides three daily newspapers, there are monthly, ten-day, and weekly newspapers. There are quite a few large news corporations. When we look at the contents of these newspapers, they are all grand discourses written in a grand style. Such is the company in which this gazette finds itself. Newly born, it may be small in organization, and its language may not be embellished. Truly, facing the giants, this small potato is distressed. Therefore, we do not...

    • 17. A Proposal on the Construction of Taiwanese Vernacular Writing
      (pp. 67-70)

      When it comes to treating Taiwanese people’s illiteracy, the Chinese vernacular and elementary classical Chinese are both ineffective. In light of this, what can we use to solve the problem? This is what I intend to address in my proposal.

      Spoken language requires written language. Written language is nothing but a direct record of spoken language. Why is Taiwanese an exception? Given that no written language exists [that corresponds to Taiwanese], we must not neglect certain aspects that constitute the core of the Taiwanese vernacular, which I discuss below.

      What is Taiwanese vernacular? Suffice it to say that it is...

    • 18. On Reforming the Taiwanese Vernacular
      (pp. 70-72)

      Among one hundred of our children, only thirty-five have the opportunity to go to primary school, and the remaining sixty-five are plagued with illiteracy. It is urgent for us to treat this disease of illiteracy. With that in mind, what medicine can we prescribe? Yes, indeed, mandatory education will treat the disease at its root, and the promotion of the vernacular will target its symptoms. Looking at the current situation of Taiwan, I think we have no choice but to treat the symptoms first, as in a case of emergency. I suggest that we expedite the unification of written and...

    • 19. The Prospect of Popular Literature
      (pp. 72-73)

      Today, the so-called popular literature in Japan is works written for the common people who do not have a high level of education. This came about naturally based on the relation between literature and society—because literature is no longer the exclusive property of a special class. It would have no meaning if it did not express the hopes of society as a whole and of people’s lives. Therefore, literature must be close to the people, offering them entertainment and comfort, so they can realistically take stock of their nature, thought, and emotions. In order to cultivate the people’s interests...

    • 20. A Giant Bomb on the Old Poetry Scene
      (pp. 73-74)

      It is worth our attention to note that numerous poets and poetry societies have arisen in Taiwan in the past two decades. I remember when I was young and learning how to write poetry, the most famous poetry societies were Li, South, Ying, Bamboo, and Mount Luo. There were few other than these. But since then, we have seen poetry societies popping up everywhere. The trend is truly surprising. On the island there are now around one thousand poets and fifty or so poetry societies.

      On the surface, the thriving of literature in Taiwan is unprecedented. Look at the three...

    • 21. Elegant Words
      (pp. 74-76)

      Over the course of this year, there have appeared advocates of nativist literature and proposals to reform the Taiwanese vernacular. It has always been my plan [to advocate the same], but it is easy to talk about yet difficult to put it into practice. How so? Those who can talk may not be able to do it; Those who can do it may not want to do it. This is why Taiwanese literature has been in gradual decline. To advocate for nativist literature, we must sort out the native language first. As to how to sort it out, it is...

    • 22. Absolute Objection to Nativist Literature Written in the Taiwanese Vernacular
      (pp. 76-78)

      Let us first reconsider the notion of nativist literature. And before any theoretical discussions, it is necessary that I explain concisely the meaning of nativist literature.

      What was the initial incentive behind the promotion of nativist literature? By the end of the nineteenth century, urban literature naturally came into existence, as the city had become the center of cultural and political developments. The flourishing of urban literature coincided with the rapid growth of modern cities after the Industrial Revolution, and the middle class played a major role in it. As the cities developed in a concentrated manner, transportation and print...

    • 23. On Taiwan’s Nativist Literature
      (pp. 79-80)

      . . . If a work of Taiwanese literature describes the life of the Taiwanese but lacks nationalistic tendencies or local color, it cannot be considered nativist literature as we are advocating it. Literature of all kinds will appear if the lives the Taiwanese lead are the subject dealt with from different points of view. This has been discussed above, and there is no need to repeat it. Regardless of how much Japanese education the Taiwanese people receive or how well they write in Japanese, they have been treated differently since childhood in all areas of life; in writing about...

    • 24. Burning Hair—the Rites of Poetry
      (pp. 80-82)

      The burning flame has a brilliant intellect. The poetic atmosphere possessed by the burning flame becomes the world beloved by poets.

      Poets write their best poems in the midst of this fire. The fire of their contemplation occurs in the wilderness, where a sweet breeze blows and the yellow fruits of the sandalwood clack. Taiwan, where we live, is particularly favored by Nature to be the best place for this sort of poetic contemplation. The literature we create has the color of the banana, the music of the water buffalo, and the love songs of the native girls. The literature...

    • 25. Writing on the Wall
      (pp. 83-83)

      Recently, on Taiwan’s literary scene (including cohort magazines and literary supplements to newspapers) one finds everywhere poems as beautiful as roses. To the small number of poets on the island, who are precious like jewels, we should respond with a lonely smile. As beautiful as a woman’s skin, soft and tender, [these poems] seem to bring a new poetic feeling to the island’s literary scene. Like a madman facing a woman dressed in translucent nylon, her breasts faintly visible, he writes an article to express how he feels, while casting a seductive look at these poets. Even though it is...

    • 26. Manifesto
      (pp. 83-85)
      JIE ZHOU

      Culture is governed by cultural logic—it may be tense, slow, or stagnant. Cultural stagnation is without exception [the result of ] passivity in a dynamic era, which turns into a stage for the sad tune of degeneration and decadence. As a result, it paralyzes productive action and allows the conventional, received, escapist, skillful, and playful atmosphere to prevail in the social realm.

      However, culture, by logic, cannot stay stagnant forever. As the atmosphere of degradation and decadence develops on the other side, inevitably, dissatisfaction gives rise to critical consciousness, which, once awakened, will throw a napalm bomb of reform....

    • 27. Foreword: Understanding Folk Literature
      (pp. 85-86)

      Generally speaking, folk literature—folk songs, folktales, and myths—has been produced for as long as human beings have existed. Primitive people composed folk songs to praise nature, and created tales and myths to explain nature. The former are related to their emotional life, the latter to their rational life. Japan’sRecords of Ancient Affairs, China’sThe Book of Songs, and the Greek myths are all expressions of primitive peoples’ views on art and philosophy, as well as on life and the universe. Their impact on future literature was great.

      Now let us single out Greek mythology for discussion. Greek...

    • 28. Art Belongs to the People
      (pp. 87-89)
      YANG KUI

      . . . A work of literature is, at root, the manifestation of the author’s thoughts and feelings. The only purpose of structure and description is to make as vivid and lively as possible the expression of these thoughts and feelings (the subject matter). Therefore, one should choose material on the basis of its effectiveness in bringing the subject matter to life. The structure of a story should serve to bring the subject matter to life. All description of the physical world and characters’ psychology should have a close connection to the subject matter too. We must be absolutely clear...

    • 29. The Historical Mission of Taiwan Literary Arts
      (pp. 89-94)

      Since we launchedTaiwan Literary Arts(1934–36), thanks to the help of all comrades, every issue has substantial content; and thanks to the difficult work done by the Jiayi branch, the efforts of the Tokyo branch, and the organizing done by the Taipei branch, we have been able to steadily broaden the scope of our endeavor. Most recently, Shanghai has decided to organize a branch and has been very active, with Wang Baiyun, Zhang Qingzhang, and Zhang Fangzhou in the lead. Tainan has also begun to organize a branch, and several comrades have written from Xiamen asking us for...

    • 30. Miscellaneous Thoughts on Literature—Two Types of Atmosphere
      (pp. 94-96)
      LÜ HERUO

      Somehow, over the past two or three years, Taiwan’s once-disorganized literary world has gradually begun to take shape, an example of which is the founding of the Taiwan Literary Arts Alliance and the publication ofTaiwan Literary Arts, as well as the fact that ordinary citizens have also begun to care about these happenings. The significance of these events is, in my view, historic and shows great progress. The most concrete manifestation of this happy turn of events is that those who are intent on literary endeavors have taken a step forward out of this long-standing murky atmosphere. They have...

    • 31. Poetry Snippets: On Highbrow
      (pp. 96-97)
      WENG NAO
    • 32. Preface to Mountain Spirit
      (pp. 97-98)
      HU FENG

      Getting started on translating these works was something that happened by chance. Last year, whenWorld Knowledgeserialized translations of fiction from small and weak nations, I was reminded of Korea and Taiwan in the east, and thought that now would be the right time to introduce their literary works to readers. On account of that, I translated “The Newspaper Boy” [by Yang Kui] and sent in the manuscript. I never imagined how much it would move readers and delight friends. So I went ahead and translated “Mountain Spirit,” and at the same time got the idea to collect materials...

    • 33. Youth and Taiwan (II): Ideal and Reality of the New Drama Movement
      (pp. 98-103)

      Although this is supposed to be my recollection of the New Drama movement in Taiwan, there had been new drama movements long before I was old enough to have memory. I have asked people from that era a number of questions about those activities. They say the first new drama movement was launched at the beginning of 1925 in the prefecture of Taizhong, at a place called Wufeng (today’s Wufeng Village in Datun District), by several local people who formed an organization called the Yanfeng Drama Troupe to study modern drama. They say that what prompted them was that it...

    • 34. A Chat with the Governor-General About Discontinuing Chinese Columns in Daily Newspapers
      (pp. 103-104)

      . . . Bearing in mind the principle behind my administration, making Taiwan more completely a part of Japan, I can barely contain my enthusiasm as I celebrate the move to broaden the use of the language and rhetoric of Japan proper for reporting and discontinue the Chinese, or more appropriately the Taiwanese, section of the newspaper, which in the past accounted for one-quarter or one half of it.

      It goes without saying that as Japanese imperial subjects we should make every effort to fulfill our duty as imperial children to both master and demonstrate the spirit of the empire....

    • 35. Why Can’t Taiwan’s Art Scene Advance?
      (pp. 105-106)
      OLD XU

      Reviews of recent issues ofMoonlit Windhave called the journal refreshing; some even callit therepresentative publication among Chinese-language journals in Taiwan. Facing this situation, I can only respond with a “You’re way too generous” and “Who are we to accept such high praise?” We do, however, have to acknowledge the barbs with the balm—please take a look at “Many Voices Speak as One in Praise ofMoonlit,” assessing the progress made in the short period of four months since the overhaul of our publication. The substance of its content has not yet met the expectations of...

    • 36. Criticism and Guidance Welcomed
      (pp. 106-107)

      Art and life are inextricably related. Without the harmony of art, life would be as empty and monotonous as a desert. Art is like fresh blooms in a desert. Every country has its unique art, recognized and valued by all societies in the world. How great a cultural product art is!

      East Asian art shines a long, glorious light upon the world and boasts of the supreme spirit of East Asian people. As East Asians born in our time, how can we not strive to support and develop our art?

      Japan, China, and Manchuria are on friendly terms with one...

    • 37. On the Future of Taiwanese Literature
      (pp. 108-109)

      It is often said that literature is a hobby, but we must ask ourselves: Can literature as hobby exist after all? I don’t think so. It is impossible to experience life in literature, even though the spirit of literature does permeate our life. If this were not the case, literature would not have come into existence. This matter pertains more to writers from the periphery—especially writers from a special locale like Taiwan—than to those at the center. Despite painful fetal movements, the literary circle in Taiwan is yet to be born, because of internal problems and a lack...

    • 38. The Prospect of Taiwanese Literature
      (pp. 109-111)

      . . . For Taiwanese culture, 1940 was a memorable year. In a retrospective I wrote for a journal, I said that 1940 was “a year when what went off track got back on track and in order, showing a semblance of literary expression.” Previously, writers carried on in their own way, like solitary walkers who roamed as they pleased. Now writers have suddenly become closer; united, they have formed an organization.

      By this I mean the launching ofLiterary Taiwan,which focuses on prose and poetry, andTaiwan,which is devoted totankapoetry. When it comes totanka,...

    • 39. The Past, Present, and Future of Taiwanese Literature
      (pp. 111-117)

      My country has occupied Taiwan for forty-six years now. Based on a survey of the literature produced during this time, I have reached the conclusion that it should be divided into three periods. My judgment is based on the following criteria: (1) the depth of Japan’s interest in Taiwan, (2) the educational level of people in Taiwan, (3) the general reader’s attitude toward things literary and artistic, (4) the platform for literary works and the caliber of readers, and (5) the qualities of the authors themselves. According to these criteria, the first period spans from Japanese occupation of Taiwan in...

    • 40. On Building a Literary Scene in Taiwan
      (pp. 117-120)

      In the past two or three years Taiwan’s literary scene has displayed a vitality rarely seen and has debunked the assumption that Taiwan is unable to develop literary journals. Beginning withLiterary Taiwan, such journals asTaiwan, Taiwan Arts, Taiwan Literature, andTaiwan Folklorehave emerged one by one, and each has done outstanding work. They have brought forth beautiful blooms in the arid land of Taiwan.

      Moreover, the intelligence department in the office of the governor-general has actively reached out to the cultural circles and solicited their assistance. For example, theTaiwan Times, a government-run journal, publishes a creative...

    • 41. Diary (1942–1944)
      (pp. 121-124)
      LÜ HERUO

      When I got up this morning, the sun was dazzling, the sky a halcyon blue, the air clear and crisp. Snow gleamed brightly on the rooftops. What people call a silvery world is just like this. The desolate sound of snow falling and melting grated on my ears. All day long the sun shone brilliantly.

      I left the house at ten and watched the art filmIshikawa Takubokuon the fourth floor of the Toho Theater. Takuboku’s bitter life story bespeaks the inevitable fate for the artist. We need to take heed. Yet even in posterity, art still has a...

    • 42. Responsibility of the Literati on the Island
      (pp. 124-126)
      YU WEN

      . . . Here I want to remind everyone that at a time of intense interest in literature, writers of both traditional and modern literature must gain a better understanding of their current situations and future prospects so as to spur themselves on in their literary quest. . . .

      In the past year or two, literary journals and monographs have sprouted everywhere on the island like bamboo shoots after the spring rain. We have seen masterpieces in published fiction, drama, and poetry. This phenomenon has not only generated great hope for the people of the island but has also...

    • 43. Taiwanese Theater in the Current Stage of Development
      (pp. 126-128)

      . . . At present, the chief form of theater in Taiwan is the popular new school known as New Drama, with altogether some forty troupes organized by the islanders, who perform in the local language. The scripts have been written or approved by the Theater Association; the choice of troupes, allocation of theater space, and so forth are the responsibility of the Entertainment Industry Regulation Corporation. Are the contents and organization of these structures really ideal for meeting the needs of the nation? That could only be ascertained after inspecting the program for each troupe when it puts on...

    • 44. A Conversation on Taiwanese Culture
      (pp. 129-133)

      . . .

      NAKAMURA: People often voice the criticism that there is no critical spirit in Taiwan. However, it seems that there is neither a critical spirit, nor a spirit of being critiqued. In other words, there is no good criticism.

      LONG: I guess one reason is that there are no true critics. The same is true of Japan. Compared with authors, critics receive little recognition for their work and therefore a low income. I think this is also a reason. In Japan, Mr. Aono Kikitsu is probably the only person who can make a living as a critic. In...

    • 45. A Commentary on Current Literature
      (pp. 134-135)

      Some time at a Wednesday meeting, the topic of Izumi Kyôka [1873–1939] was brought up. I listened as Matsukaze Shigeru expressed his opinion that Izumi Kyôka is one of Japan’s great writers who brought Japanese tradition back to life, and he is correctly placed in literary history alongside Koda Rohan [1867– 1947]. I completely agreed with him, but I was surprised that almost all of the people present that day agreed with Matsukaze’s view. Although I find it amusing that the Wednesday gathering was really a Kyôka meeting, I wonder if these days Kyôka is not read in a...

    • 46. Kuso Realism and Pseudo-Romanticism
      (pp. 135-138)

      According to the law, there are times when lying is permitted; however, within the confines of literature, lying is not permitted. When authors lie in their works, even for [the purpose of artistic] development, for people who love truth and the truth value of literature, works that use lies are not worth a penny. Every immortal work is the revelation of the author’s soul. For example, Flaubert declares: “Madame Bovary, c’est moi!” And at the end ofWar and Peace, Tolstoy provides an eloquent discussion on history. There are no exceptions. For example, [Nagai] Kafû states: “Since I am extremely...

    • 47. An Open Letter to Mr. Shiwai Min
      (pp. 138-139)

      As Mr. Shiwai Min correctly stated, there is one work that stands out more than any other as a proper judge of the times. Although it belongs to the Heian period (794–1185),The Tale of Genjicorrectly understood what is going on in our world today. IsThe Tale of Genjiall about the aristocrats’ pathos and unrequited love, as Mr. Shiwai Min said? He who makes this presumptuous comment on the classical novel nevertheless borrows his pen name from the character in Satô Haruo’s romantic “A Strange Tale of the Fan of Admonitions for Women” on the one...

    • 48. Good Writing, Bad Writing
      (pp. 139-140)

      . . . If it is natural to pay compliments to good writing, it also seems reasonable to criticize bad writing. For example, although Ye Shitao’s “An Open Letter to Mr. Shiwai Min” is not poorly written, there are parts that I find unacceptable. I don’t know Mr. Shiwai Min personally. I have read some of his works, but they did not leave much of an impression on me. Even so, this has nothing to do with my criticism of “An Open Letter.” Besides, even the Society of Imperial Subjects for Patriotic Services is actively directing the literary movement.¹ It...

    • 49. In Defense of Kuso Realism
      (pp. 141-143)

      To debate about new ways of looking at fecal matter perhaps is an odd conversation to have here.

      Even though everyone seems to know the function of fecal matter, I wonder if we have begun to lose sight of its true nature.

      According to scholarly research that I have read, there are different grades ofkuso: city people’s, children’s, and farmers’. Because farmers eat coarse food, their kuso makes the lowest grade. . . .

      In the past, before commercial fertilizer was invented, the only thing that could increase a farmer’s harvest was thekusofrom pigs, cows, chickens, and...

    • 50. The Thorny Road Continues
      (pp. 143-144)

      Rather than calling it a maiden work, it would be more appropriate to think of it as what motivated me to enter the field of literature. Since high school, I have been interested in literature. Although I was confident about my writing, I had not once dreamed about becoming a writer.

      For I knew the complexity of human emotions and the difficulty of the [Japanese] language. At the same time, I thought I ought to learn more about literature, because it was essential to understanding people’s spiritual side, no matter what career I chose.

      My birthplace is a village in...

    • 51. Our Propositions
      (pp. 144-150)

      The war has formally entered the final stage. Even at this precise moment, as I speak, fierce and bloody battles on the bases in the South Pacific are raging on in the form of hand-to-hand combat.

      The great result of the battle in the Solomon Sea made our blood boil; yet the enemy’s stubborn but doomed resistance is surely going on. Even though we may suffer twists and turns in a certain region or at a certain time, we must persist with our unyielding conviction of ultimate victory, and advance with a clear and bright spirit on the road to...

    • 52. The Path of Bridge—Report on the Second Writers’ Gathering
      (pp. 150-156)
      GE LEI

      The beginning of Taiwanese literature goes back twenty some years during the period of Japanese imperialist rule, when World War I had just ended and the high tide of national self-determination was spreading throughout the world. The considerable influence and stimulation generated from the tide naturally shaped the Taiwan New Literature movement. The influence of the May Fourth movement cannot be discounted either. Thus, while we sought plain, populist forms of expression, ideologically we prized anti-imperialism, antifeudalism, democracy, and science. The first voices speaking on behalf of this movement arose fromTaiwan Youth, founded by overseas students studying in Tokyo....

    • 53. Questions and Answers Concerning Taiwanese Literature
      (pp. 156-158)
      YANG KUI

      Q: Is it logical to speak of “Taiwanese literature”?

      A: Yes, the term is not only logical but necessary.

      Q: Educated people here have recently started active discussions on “constructing a new Taiwanese literature.” According to Qian Gechuan, this topic is flawed. What are your thoughts on this?

      A: There is nothing wrong with it.

      Q: That being so, Qian Gechuan says that literature is identified by region, such as southern European literature and northern European literature, because ethnic groups differ in their essence, spoken and written language, and ideas about lifestyle, which exert an influence on the way they...

  6. PART II Wading Through the Cold War Under Martial Law (1949–1987)

    • 1. Inaugural Preface to Literary Creation
      (pp. 161-162)

      As a result of the rising tide of anti-Communist and anti-Soviet fervor, the last two years of literary activity in Free China has experienced an unprecedented flourishing. Countless patriotic writers have fully developed their intelligence and skills by penning works with flesh and blood that sing and cry. The contribution to our fellow soldiers and citizens engaged in combat makes us take pleasure in the fact that the Chinese renaissance is following fast on the national restoration in opening up an infinitely glorious horizon.

      That said, because of difficulties in publishing, not to mention the limited space of newspapers and...

    • 2. Declaration
      (pp. 163-164)
      JI XIAN

      We are a group of poets from Free China. We have arrived! We stand under the twin banners of anti–Soviet Union and anti–Communist China. We are united as one, vigorously pointing our pens toward the ugly and the vile. We take aim and fire. We are beams of light. We sing. We stride forth with giant steps.

      We believe that all literature belongs to its time. Only literature that is truly of its time has enduring value. This is to say, we cherish social significance and artistic merit equally. Above all, we demand that poetic expressions of the...

    • 3. Inaugural Preface to Military Literature: Establishing a Modernized, Populist, Revolutionary, and Combative National Literature
      (pp. 164-166)

      . . . What kind of literature do we need today? Simply put, we need nationalist literature. Since the most important sentiment that humankind has is feelings for the people, nationalist literature is the best tool through which to communicate feelings for the people. And since nationalist sentiments derive from nationalist thought and consciousness, nationalist literature is also the best tool with which to communicate nationalist thought. Today, in our effort to oppose the Communists and resist the Soviets, the most important thing is to inspire the hearts and minds of the people so that they will be unified, and...

    • 4. Poetry Is Poetry; Song Is Song; We Do Not Say “Poem-Song”
      (pp. 166-167)
      JI XIAN

      As human society evolves, division of labor becomes finer and finer. It is true of science, so why isn’t it applicable to literature as well?

      In ancient times, witchcraft and medicine were one and the same, astrology and astronomy were indistinguishable. But as time went on, they became separated: witchcraft is witchcraft, medicine is medicine; astrology is astrology, astronomy is astronomy. Modern medicine is pure science, so is modern astronomy. They contain no superstitious elements. Therefore, doctors today are no longer wizards who exorcise evil spirits with charms and spells; astronomers are no longer fortune-tellers who read horoscopes. Moreover, medical...

    • 5. Explicating the Tenets of the Modernist School
      (pp. 167-169)
      JI XIAN

      We are neither a political party nor a religious sect; we have neither strict organization nor abiding form. We base our affiliation on similar views of New Poetry and consistent literary tendencies. We are bound together by a spirit of common purpose, and the natural inclination is thus to form the Modernist School. This is the first point we wish to make clear. The Modernist School is a poetry group and not a social organization. Other than adherence to the tenets of the Modernist School, members of this group are completely free to join, or not join, any literary organization...

    • 6. To the Reader
      (pp. 169-170)
      XIA JI’AN

      A fter several months of preparation,Literary Reviewhas made it to publication quite smoothly. We hope that readers of this issue will think that this journal is worthy of the nameLiterary Review. The journal was conceived by several friends who love literature. We don’t plan to revolutionize the literary scene. We merely hope to keep our feet on the ground and do our best to produce a few good works. But with the fall of China, the survival of the Chinese people depends on all of us working hard, with determination, and pragmatically. We shall muster all our...

    • 7. A Critique of Peng Ge’s Setting Moon and a Discussion of the Modern Novel
      (pp. 171-174)
      XIA JI’AN

      There is no telling how many budding writers have dreamed of writing a great work since the literary revolution in China began. The standard of a great book is this: it reflects a great age. For this reason, the public places this expectation on writers, and writers also place this expectation on themselves. It seems that if the background of a novel doesn’t encompass thousands of miles and characters, if it doesn’t involve such scenes as wars, flights to refuge, demonstrations, riots, the building of canals and roads, and so on, then it has not accomplished its mission.

      This kind...

    • 8. Newsletter of Literary Friends: Correspondence Between Zhong Zhaozheng and Zhong Lihe
      (pp. 174-178)

      This past March, I had the unexpected pleasure of corresponding with Mr. Liao Qingxiu [b. 1927] and reflecting on how young Taiwanese writers are situated in the contemporary Chinese literary scene. I came to realize that, few in number, we should stay in close contact in order to learn from one another and reach new artistic heights. It is undeniable that the success of any enterprise depends on individual resolution and perseverance. However, the encouragement and support of friends is also an important factor. Why should the literary enterprise be any different? In the history of human achievement, there are...

    • 9. Notes from the Editors of Epoch Poetry Quarterly
      (pp. 178-179)
      ZHANG MO

      We have been silent for almost a year, a painful year that felt like a century. We often wonder, we always wonder, when can we publish a poetry journal that has good size, quality, and impact? This is not a dream, but cruel reality tells me: How can you break free of the many difficulties, each the size of Iceland? It is only today, when I have the courage to look out the window at the sun of a spring morning, that my heart is filled with mixed feelings—sour and sweet, bitter and spicy.

      Reality has not crushed us...

    • 10. On Symbolist Poetry and Chinese New Poetry: A Rejoinder to Professor Su Xuelin
      (pp. 179-184)

      The prominent English poet Edith Sitwell published an essay entitled “The Poet’s Vision” last year in the November 15th edition of the American magazine theSaturday Evening Post. Her essay starts by bemoaning the fact that much nonsense is being written in England that attacks modern poets for having lost touch with the reading public.¹ Sitwell expressed her dissatisfaction with such excessively critical articles. She went on to clarify the true significance of modern poetry and the key to understanding it. Modern poetry has received harsh criticism not only in England but also in the United States. Modern poetry in...

    • 11. Five Years Later
      (pp. 184-185)

      . . . It is beyond doubt that this journal has always upheld the objective of pursuing purity and modernity when it comes to poetry. Although we have never hoisted the banner of modernism, we are in truth the eyewitnesses and practitioners of modern art. We do not advocate modernism due to objective circumstances. Besides, modernism embraces many schools and we are not content with confining ourselves to any one of them. We do not belong to any school; we are only on a quest of the spirit [of modernism]. In thought and spirit, we seek to understand the world...

    • 12. To the Poet Ya Xian
      (pp. 185-186)

      It was definitely not out of laziness that I said to you: Really, there is no need to publish any interpretation of “[Rejoice in the] Abyss.”

      In fact, I have risked insomnia for two or three nights in a row when I stayed up to read all the relevant books and came to the conclusion that this knot is too hard to untangle. Even Stephen Spender [1909–95] would have to admit that his words were biased, even though he once emphasized that he would rather choose the rhythm of a kerosene engine and that all he managed to speak...

    • 13. Random Talk on New Poetry No. 4: Whither It Goes?
      (pp. 186-188)
      YAN XI

      Poets of the Creation Society emulated such romantic greats as Byron and Goethe. Poets of the Crescent Society reproduced English sonnets in regular forms. Well versed in classical Chinese literature and masterful in their use of the Chinese language, they were able to assimilate and negotiate with those resources and accomplish a great deal. Zhu Ziqing [1898–1948] and Xu Zhimo [1897–1931] boasted an abundance of extremely well-crafted lines, and they also wrote superb prose. Therefore, even though they searched for the new, they did not end up sounding ridiculous. Li Jinfa inherited European symbolism and was bent on...

    • 14. Taiwanese Writers Whose Works Burst with Local Color
      (pp. 188-189)

      This past June, during a meeting of the Provincial Assembly, an assemblyman called on the government to give more encouragement to native Taiwanese writers, and on newspapers and magazines to print more of their works. Governor Zhou Zhirou [1899–1986] made an impromptu reply: since Retrocession [in 1945], Taiwanese writers have made an exceptional showing and won the respect of their compatriots in their hometowns. He cited three names as evidence: Lin Haiyin, Shi Cuifeng [b. 1925], and Liao Qingxiu.

      It has been more than a decade since the return of Taiwan to China. The growth of the arts in...

    • 15. Notes of a Poet
      (pp. 189-191)
      YA XIAN

      . . . In China, Xu Zhimo, Zhu Xiang [1904–1933], Zong Baihua [1897–1986], Li Jinfa, Dai Wangshu, Feng Wenbing (Fei Ming [1901–1967]), and so on formed a stream of pure poetry. It was hampered and gradually sank into chaos, however, after the League of Left-Wing Writers was founded in Wuhan. Many poets were swept off their feet by the political wind. They became obsessed and tried to use thinly poetic verses to strike the revolutionary gong. They lauded themselves as a proletarian “wild flower and arrow” (Hu Feng), “son of a rural village” (Qing Bo), “political worker...

    • 16. Introduction to Modern Literature
      (pp. 191-192)

      At the inauguration ofModern Literature, we offer this succinct introduction as a way to report to readers a few things about our direction in the future.

      This journal was founded by several young people. One of our motives for doing so was our concern about the future of Chinese literature. A second was that in these last few years we were all fired and driven by our passion for literature. This firing and this drive grew from a trickle to a torrent, until they coalesced into a desire to create, to critique, to promote, and to advocate, which obsessed...

    • 17. One Year of Modern Literature
      (pp. 193-194)

      . . . It has been a full year sinceModern Literaturewas founded. We must leave it to our readers to decide how far we have reached in laying out paving stones toward the temple of the future. But regardless of our accomplishments, we recognize that this work is significant and valuable in and of itself. It is like a furnace; the dozen or so of us huddle around it for warmth when the gray building of the School of Humanities [at National Taiwan University (NTU)] feels too cold. In order to maintain the blaze in the furnace, we...

    • 18. Preface to Selected Poems of the 1960s
      (pp. 195-198)

      The emergent modern art is a glimpse into a cracked mirror wherein people confront their pale, twisted selves and are overcome with fright. When they realize that the image in the mirror is not real but imaginary, out of anger and sadness they shatter the mirror and set out to find a truer, more complete self cast in another mirror. The process of the creation of modern art takes the form of this tragic circle. From imagism to cubism, Dadaism, surrealism, and on down to existentialism, each movement and school of thought shatters one fantasy, only to construct a new...

    • 19. On Yu Guangzhong’s Sirius the Dog Star
      (pp. 198-199)
      LUO FU

      . . . Some people believe that portions ofSirius the Dog Starexhibit surrealist tendencies. This is not really the case. There may be a few lines that are a bit abstract, and the occasional lack of links between images, but this change in technique is in no way a tendency in the author’s basic spirit. From any one of the author’s works, we discover that he expresses the world of the conscious mind, which is not only entirely unrelated to the world of the unconscious mind of surrealism, but it can never become its descendant. Clearly, the author...

    • 20. Goodbye, Nihilism!
      (pp. 199-202)

      . . . I am grateful that Mr. Luo Fu has taken notice of mySirius the Dog Starand that he has undertaken the unprecedented and arduous task of writing a serious critical appraisal. Prior to the publication ofSirius the Dog Star, this kind of serious and comprehensive criticism was lacking. However, Mr. Luo Fu is hampered by a number of narrow theories of modernism and thereby reveals the true crises of modern poetry. The first crisis is nihilism. In this decadent atmosphere, God, morality, society, and cultural tradition have been denied in toto, and finally even the...

    • 21. Preface to the Japanese edition of The Orphan of Asia
      (pp. 202-203)

      The world has turned gray. But this doesn’t necessarily mean that there is nothing to be feared if we grope about in the undercurrent.

      History always repeats itself. But before it returns, we must study the objective historical facts and take the necessary measures to escape the fate that distorted history creates. Thus, we should always seek instruction from events of the past.

      The Orphan of Asiawas written during World War II. I started it in 1942 and finished it in 1945. It is no more than a piece of what happened in Taiwan under Japanese rule. Although it...

    • 22. An Open Letter to Guo Lianghui
      (pp. 204-206)

      . . . How time flies. More than twenty years have passed. I remember that eight years ago you sat next to me at a meeting that the Writers Association held in the Recovery Room at Dr. Sun Yat-sen Hall. We chatted about the past in Xi’an, and you asked me to critique your work. At the time, I had only praise for it; there was nothing for me to critique. However, I did feel uncomfortable about the length of your hair, mainly because I thought it was an inconvenience; moreover, long hair didn’t suit a writer. When I asked...

    • 23. An Announcement from the Chinese Writers Association
      (pp. 206-208)

      1. The objectives of our association are: to unite writers of the nation, research literary theory, create literature, advance literary movements, develop literary enterprises, comply with current national policies, and contribute art’s strengths to the grand project of recovering the mainland and rebuilding our country. Since its founding, we have registered over a thousand members, all of whom encourage one another to carry out these missions. Moreover, the general assembly has instituted regulations for all members to follow. Our association supports to the greatest extent possible the members’ literary creation. Based on the guidance of President Chiang Kai-shek’s “Chapters on...

    • 24. I Do Not Value The Locked Heart and Membership in the Writers Association
      (pp. 208-211)

      The Locked Hearthas been banned for almost a year, and the Writers Association has canceled my membership for half a year. I have kept silent all along, because I don’t want to waste my time and energy on a finished work. I need to devote myself to works currently underway. Among my novels,The Locked Heartis not the one that gives me the greatest satisfaction. I will surely improve in the future. As to whether I am a member of the Writers Association or not, that could not matter less. Eight years ago, when I joined the association,...

    • 25. Cutting Off the Prose Braids
      (pp. 211-214)

      . . . Now, let us take a look at the various forms of prose in China, their accomplishments and failures. We might as well begin with the observation that Chinese prose writing at present can be divided into the following four types.

      This type of prose writing is limited to a relatively small number of authors. It includes primarily short lyrical pieces, humorous pieces, travelogues, biographical sketches, prefaces, book reviews, and so forth. This type of writing excels in providing a blend of amusement, wisdom, and erudition. It reflects a mind deeply imbued with cultural spirit, opens the reader’s...

    • 26. Lower the Flag to Half-Mast for May Fourth!
      (pp. 214-217)

      The great May Fourth is dead. Let us lower the flag to half-mast in an expression of mourning. Let us line up to pay our respects. Although her children, Mr. Democracy and Mr. Science, have gradually grown up, and although her third child, vernacular writing, has been alive for more than forty years, May Fourth herself is dead. At the very least, amid the sounds of the golden bugle and silver drums of modern literature and art, she is dead, and has been dead for years—pale May Fourth, suffering from serious heart disease. With Hu Shi’s collapse in Nangang...

    • 27. Message from the Editors
      (pp. 217-218)

      It is clear now that May Fourth no longer holds any significance for us. We can regard it as a thing of the past, just like the Tang and Song dynasties. We dare make this claim because poetry now is unlike anything that has come before. Through painful revision, even negation, of its past, poetry has entered an insular era, but an era that discloses the vital creativity of the young generation. Put quite simply: this generation finally has its own poetry. It is time to celebrate. Enough said.

      But what exactly is this poetry? Or, what poetry has this...

    • 28. Postscript to Carefree Wandering
      (pp. 219-219)

      . . . In works like “Carefree Wandering” and “Dreary Rain,” I genuinely wished to forge in the smithy of the Chinese written language a tablet of immortality. In these sorts of works, I attempted to compress, flatten, stretch, and sharpen Chinese, to dismantle it before putting it back together, to rend it and fold it, in order to test its velocity, density, and elasticity. My ideal is to allow the Chinese written language, as it undergoes syntactical changes, to form an orchestra, with every character following the writer’s brush like the conductor’s baton in a symphony. China’s modern writers...

    • 29. Toward a New Departure in Modernism: Thoughts on the Recent Production of Waiting for Godot
      (pp. 220-222)

      For years I have been critical of literary modernism. Having attended several showings ofWaiting for Godotput on byTheatermagazine, now I can reexamine my long-standing views. I have corrected some of my misapprehensions about modernism on the one hand, and on the other hand, have come to feel that modernism is about to make a new departure—particularly literary modernism here at home.

      Literature reflects its era. Indeed, a particular historical era and its social conditions produce literary works of a particular nature and content. It is quite natural that this era and this society we call...

    • 30. The Girl with Long Black Hair: The Author’s Preface
      (pp. 222-224)

      Collected in this book are the short stories I wrote during my junior year at NTU. I had started to write in middle school. However, my earlier works, which included modern poetry, essays, and short stories, not only were ornate in language and immature in content but also suffered from an even bigger flaw: they were too sentimental. This flaw,sentimentalismin English, is a common, and the most intolerable, shortcoming among Chinese writers. Therefore, I was reluctant to include those early works in this collection.

      The thirteen stories here are arranged chronologically. Readers may find the first piece “Little...

    • 31. The Evolution of Modern Poetry in Taiwan
      (pp. 224-226)
      HUAN FU

      According to Ji Xian, he was the one who delivered the torch of the Chinese New Poetry renaissance when he landed at the Base for National Revival at Jilong on November 29, 1948, the torch itself being the poetry journalHeresies,which he had edited and published in October of that year. Ji Xian’sHeresiesrepresented a continuation of four periods of New Poetry in mainland China: the germination period of a dozen years or so from the May Fourth movement to the 1930s; the growth period from Xu Zhimo’s death [in 1931] to the folding of the journal New...

    • 32. Epigraph to the Inaugural Issue
      (pp. 226-226)
    • 33. On the Predicament of Modern Chinese Poets
      (pp. 226-228)

      Let me start off with an episode that was both embarrassing and illuminating. One day, I was readingModern Chinese Poetry: Poets from Taiwan, 1955–1965,edited and translated by Ye Weilian. In the midst of it, I stepped out of my office on an errand and left the open book on my desk. When I came back, a graduate student of mine was paging through the book, and the first thing he said to me was: “I didn’t know there are so many Chinese poets writing in English.” I told him that those were English translations. Seeing the incredulous...

    • 34. On the Special Issue of Retrospect
      (pp. 229-231)
      YE SHAN

      The coinage of “modern poetry” as a general term for New Poetry has a history of less than twenty years. When we reflect on the history of modern poetry over these two decades, we recognize many problems on the one hand, but, on the other hand, from a historical point of view we realize that the development and transformation of modern poetry represents the most challenging phenomenon in recent literary history.

      As a rule, innovation in literature begins with innovation in poetry. When we examine the rebirth of Chinese literature in the last twenty years, we conclude that the modernization...

    • 35. Not Our Paradise
      (pp. 231-235)

      The Man from Wuling[by Zhang Xiaofeng] will be on stage soon. Before it opens, we have the good fortune of reading the entire script in theChungwai Literary Monthly, which is a great boon indeed. These days, in the precarious world of theater, few continue to make efforts for this genre, increasing the ardency and urgency of our hopes forThe Man from Wulingcompared with any other work. Not only in terms of artistry, but also in content—and its intellectual ramifications—we fervently hope that theater, closer to readers than any other art form, can speak for...

    • 36. Benchmarks in Fiction Criticism: Reading Tang Jisong’s “Autumn Leaves by Ouyang Zi”
      (pp. 235-240)

      It has been close to a century since the novel was formally recognized as a serious art form. Today in the West, the novel enjoys the same distinction throughout the scholarly world as do poetry and drama, and it is an object of study by scholars and critics alike. But this distinction did not come lightly. On the contrary, the trials and challenges were considerable. Throughout the past century the novel sustained numerous attacks and even lawsuits before ascending the ranks of the literary world to acquire legitimacy. Flaubert’sMadame Bovarywas the object of a lawsuit, while Thomas Hardy’s...

    • 37. Qideng Sheng’s “Polio” Style
      (pp. 240-242)

      Since my return from Taiwan, aside from teaching classes and grappling with the long-winded and intricate sentences of Henry James and Joseph Conrad, I have been reading the New Poetry and fiction published in Taiwan in the past five or six years whenever I have the time. I draw my salary from the English Department, but my research is on Chinese literature, a condition that calls to mind, to borrow an inappropriate metaphor, “my body may be imprisoned in Chu, but my heart is with the Han.” . . .

      The reason I have not read Taiwanese authors closely in...

    • 38. Take Pains to Read, Take Care to Evaluate Family Catastrophe
      (pp. 242-247)

      Some of Wang Wenxing’s fiction I’ve read includes his short stories like “The Black Gown” and the novellaDragon Inn. They made a terrible impression on me. To me, a work likeDragon Innreads like something squeezed out forcefully, with little talent and even less authenticity. When theChung-wai Literary Monthlywas launched, Wang Wenxing was finishing the manuscript ofFamily Catastrophe, which he had spent seven years working on. My associates at the journal thought no matter howFamily Catastrophewould turn out, it would be worth publishing in the journal. It was, after all, what he had...

    • 39. Looking Forward to a New Kind of Literature
      (pp. 247-248)

      . . . Literature on Taiwan today is an inadequate reflection of the age. It lacks social consciousness; at least this is the case with most writers. We can divide commonly seen works into two categories: the remote and the introspective. The remote gives outlet to homesickness [for the mainland], while the introspective seems to weave dreams. True, dreams and homesickness can be excellent material for literature, but what gets left out between the two? What is left out is life in the present. . . .

      Literature has many functions, one of which ought to be helping readers to...

    • 40. Two Kinds of Spirit in Taiwanese Literature: A Comparison of Yang Kui and Zhong Lihe
      (pp. 248-252)

      . . . Beginning in March 1924, Zhang Wojun published a series of articles inTaiwan People’s Daily. They were “A Letter to the Youth of Taiwan,” “The Awful Literary Scene of Taiwan,” “Weeping for Taiwan’s Literary Scene,” “Please Unite to Dismantle the Decrepit Hall in the Thicket of Weeds,” and “The Unique Significance of theCollection of Striking the Jar.” The essays attacked traditional literature and officially launched the New Literature movement in Taiwan.Taiwan People’s Dailyprinted modern literary works. In December 1925, the literary journalEveryman(two issues in total) also commenced publication. . . .


    • 41. Author’s Preface
      (pp. 253-253)

      Once when passing through a small town, I saw a hand that was the spitting image of the Chinese pictograph for the word “hand†: ô ¡» . Its owner was a young boy of about ten. He was squatting on the ground and using his hand like a rattle-drum, repeatedly flipping it back and forth, back and forth. After standing there for a while, I finally heard the tinkle of a few coins dropping into his lunch box. When I left town, the sound of the rattle-drum followed me quietly on my journey.

      On my way back a few days later,...

    • 42. She Is a True Student of China: On Reading Zhang Ailing on Reading
      (pp. 254-255)

      . . . Zhang Ailing [1920–1995] is the only contemporary fiction writer who has no relation to the May Fourth movement. This is a point I make in several speeches that I have given at universities. But if we use May Fourth as a periodizing concept, it only has meaning in terms of time. We could just as easily say “since the founding of the Republic” or “since Cao Xueqin’s time.” When we refer to May Fourth, it is more than chronology. Just asNew Youthdisavowed and tried to destroy the Chinese theater, traditional literature, and other aspects...

    • 43. Should the Ban on May Fourth and 1930s Writings Be Lifted?
      (pp. 255-259)

      In my preface to the fiction section of theCompendium of Modern Chinese Literature, I tried to account for the thriving of literature in Free China. Referring to both the earlier generation and the current crop of writers, I argued that for intellectuals who fled the turmoil of war and landed in Taiwan and other places abroad, the endless sufferings they endured—the cauldron of war, heartbreaking exile, destruction of country and family, and other historical calamities—have converged to form an incomparably powerful and stark, yet rich and concentrated, sustenance for living. For fiction writers who are part of...

    • 44. Grassroots Manifesto
      (pp. 259-262)
      LUO QING and LI NAN

      Even as the debates over the nature of New Poetry have raged on over the past fifty or more years, poets have never lost sight of their enthusiasm and aspirations for poetry. They have worked to the best of their abilities and left a rich legacy. With China now divided, massively split in time and space, people shudder in fear and desolation. And yet, even under political division, the poetry movement must carry on. Sadly, poets on the mainland no longer enjoy creative freedom, so the poetry scene there languishes in silence. Fortunately, Free Taiwan is the center of the...

    • 45. The Past Decade of Taiwanese Literature (1965–1975)—with Remarks on Wang Wenxing’s Family Catastrophe
      (pp. 262-267)

      . . . Taiwanese fiction, or more broadly, Taiwanese literature, is Chinese fiction written in Chinese script by Chinese people in Taiwan.

      Ever since the New Literature movement in China, the emergence and reputations of authors have relied on the patronage of newspaper supplements and literary journals. Until the day comes when someone in the publishing world is willing to publish a novel as a single volume that has never been serialized before, newspapers and journals will continue to be the most important medium for the dissemination of literature. This system of serializing fiction in newspaper supplements and journals has...

    • 46. The Pursuit and Disappearance of Utopia
      (pp. 267-271)

      The birth name of Chen Ruoxi is Chen Xiumei. A native of Taipei, Taiwan, she was born in 1938. Her father and grandfather were both carpenters, so one can say that she is a true daughter of the proletariat. After graduating from the Department of Foreign Languages and Literatures at NTU in 1961, she went to the United States. She studied at Mount Holyoke College and later at Johns Hopkins University, where she majored in English literature and received a master’s degree. In 1966, she traveled to mainland China via Europe and spent the first two years in Beijing, waiting...

    • 47. Random Thoughts: Author’s Preface
      (pp. 271-272)

      During those years I spent in Nanjing, I could not have imagined that I would pick up a pen to write fiction again. At the time, I never even dreamed that I would leave [the mainland] someday. But things in this world are unpredictable. Unexpectedly, I arrived in Hong Kong one day. On the train from Shenzhen to Kowloon, I watched the colorful signs along the way and thought I was dreaming. At first I did not want to talk about the past; I just wanted to make do and idle away the rest of my life. But living in...

    • 48. Starting from the Flaws of Taipei People: On the Method and Practice of Literary Criticism
      (pp. 272-275)

      A bout half a year ago, when my series of critical essays onTaipei Peoplewas published inBook Reviews and Bibliographies, the editor, Mr. Yin Di, wrote me one day about readers’ responses and ideas. He told me that, in general, readers thought my critique was convincing. They also acknowledged thatTaipei Peoplewas indeed a rare and excellent work. The question was: Aren’t there any flaws in the work? In a literary work, as there are merits, there must be flaws, right? Why didn’t Ouyang Zi discuss the shortcomings ofTaipei People? Therefore, Yin Di suggested rounding out...

    • 49. Looking Back
      (pp. 275-278)

      . . . After being admitted to the Department of Foreign Languages and Literatures at NTU, my wildest hope was to be published inLiterature Review, because my classmates’ fiction appeared in it frequently. Our Chinese literature professor often encouraged us to submit toLiterary Review. In a composition class, the professor asked us to write a short story. I thought to myself that the opportunity to display my learning had arrived, so in no time I submitted three stories. When the thick stack of paper was returned to me, I flipped through the pages without finding any comments. At...

    • 50. Preface to Three-Three Journal
      (pp. 279-279)
    • 51. It is Realist Literature, Not Nativist Literature—A Historical Analysis of Nativist Literature
      (pp. 280-284)
      WANG TUO

      In the past few years, although we do not know exactly when it started, the phrase “nativist literature” gradually began appearing on the pages of newspapers and magazines and in the speech of many enthusiasts of literature; moreover, it slowly became a major trend in literary creation. As far as I know, there are differing opinions among authors and readers as to whether or not it is an appropriate tendency, and no matter whether they agree or disagree, perhaps all of them have both literary and nonliterary reasons for their opinions. Now that it has been bandied about for some...

    • 52. Introduction to the History of Nativist Literature in Taiwan
      (pp. 284-288)

      Taiwan is situated in the typhoon belt of the subtropical zone. The surging Japan Current circulates through the ocean on all sides. Consequently, rain is plentiful, the four seasons are summer-like, and vegetation is lush and verdant. No wonder the Portuguese sailors who navigated the Taiwan Strait on their way to Japan cried out with admiration: “Illa! Formosa!” [Island! Beautiful!] Taiwan has been called Formosa by Westerners ever since. The unsurpassable natural beauty and the subtropical climate have certainly exerted a profound influence on the people who have lived on this land for generations and have molded their unique dispositions:...

    • 53. The Blind Spot of Nativist Literature
      (pp. 289-293)

      Recently I had the pleasure of reading “Introduction to theHistory of Nativist Literature in Taiwan,” a powerful piece by Mr. Ye Shitao. I feel deeply that this fine essay is outstanding among the contributions of the past two years, one the likes of which I have not seen since the 1950s, and one that uses new historical science to discuss literature.

      In this essay, Mr. Ye points out that Taiwan has its own special characteristics due to its geography, history, and spiritual life; yet at the same time it has the general character of China. Mr. Ye also finds...

    • 54. Where Is Literature Without Human Nature?
      (pp. 293-297)
      PENG GE

      . . . Since the beginning of the year I have read several articles on literature. I believe that some contain incorrect, even harmful, analysis and discussion and are in need of clarification. Under the premise of patriotism and love of literature, literary enthusiasts share the responsibility of overcoming small differences in pursuit of common ground, debunking fallacies, and expounding valid reasoning.

      In their surface meanings, “realist literature” and “nativist literature” may not sound problematic. The issue is, we cannot be deluded by these names and neglect to analyze their contents and underlying theories.

      Some authors discuss literature and the...

    • 55. Xiangtu Wenxue: Its Merits and Demerits
      (pp. 297-304)

      In Taiwan, the termxiangtu wenxuehas a somewhat different meaning from that prevalent in most other countries. While logic suggests that the term denotes literature that focuses on life in the countryside, in Taiwanxiangtu wenxuealso includes portrayals of city life. The primary requirement is that the work be realistic in nature. Given this fact, it would be helpful to first take a look at the development of realism itself. The movement known as realism began in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, when writers in the West sought to depart from romanticism in pursuit of freedom in writing...

    • 56. Impressions Gleaned from the Conference on Literary Arts Organized by the Armed Forces: The Bugle of Unity
      (pp. 305-307)

      In 1978, the sixty-seventh year of the ROC, the Conference on Literary Arts organized by the armed forces was held for two days, on January 18 and 19, in Taipei. Among those attending the conference were writers from the armed forces and distinguished guests, totaling more than four hundred. It was quite a gathering. I was honored to have been invited. . . .

      The various discussions and proposals have already been summarized in the conference’s announcement, so I need not go into detail. What made the deepest impression on me were the concluding remarks on the afternoon of the...

    • 57. Notes on the Publication of Essays on Nativist Literature
      (pp. 307-309)

      Although the love of the native land is a magnificent tradition in Chinese literature, even in world literature, in the past year [1977–1978], Chinese literature written in Taiwan about love of homeland has been subjected to false accusations never before encountered. The kind of muckraking described below has appeared in newspapers and magazines nearly every few days. There is a small group of wolves in men’s clothing in our literary circles. In the name of nativist literature, they peddle the poison of elitist literature. They fight tooth and nail the motto ofgong-nong-bingliterature. In their arrogance and insolence,...

    • 58. Two Types of Literary Mind: On Two Short Stories That Won the United Daily Fiction Contest
      (pp. 310-313)

      When I wrote the following essay at the end of 1980, I did not anticipate at all that the essay would bring me four years of tireless criticism and blame; it even sparked a polemic on the “status of Taiwanese literature.”

      What I expected even less was that my so-called rhetorical hyperbole was the reason for my indictment. For example, I said: “If someone wrote a history of Chinese literature three hundred years from now and, in the last chapter, used one hundred words to describe us during these three decades, what would he say, and which names would he...

    • 59. Ten Years of Flowing River
      (pp. 314-319)

      On November 1, 1953, I was appointed editor in chief of the literary supplement to theUnited Daily. I left the post on April 24, 1963, after almost a decade. . . .

      Although I took over the editorship on November 1, I reported to the newspaper on December 1. Before my tenure began, theUnited Dailysupplement had emphasized miscellaneous subjects but not literature. In a newspaper of six pages—two fewer than its original size—the supplement alone comprised ten columns, the contents of which were varied and sundry, including films, plays, comics, short stories, essays, anecdotes, women...

    • 60. Foreword to Anthology of the Modern Chinese Essay
      (pp. 320-322)
      YANG MU

      According to my observations, the essay as a literary genre enjoys singular prominence in the Chinese tradition. Western literature comprises mainly poetry, drama, and fiction. True, throughout its history, some essays were distinguished by structural integrity and artistic flourishes. In view of their outstanding art and intellectual appeal, they may constitute a genre. However, in the West, the conditions that qualify the essay, whether long or short, as literature are uneven and weak. To use English literature as an example, intellectual appeal typically has to do with the author’s cogent reasoning; precise observations on literature and art, in particular, make...

    • 61. Preface to Thirty Eventful Years: The Predicament Facing the Newspaper Literary Supplement in Taiwan at Present and a Way Out
      (pp. 322-327)
      YA XIAN

      Thefukan[literary supplement] is a distinguishing feature of the Chinese newspaper. In Britain and the United States, or in the Asian countries of Japan and Korea, newspapers may publish serialized fiction, along with columns devoted to cultural news, film reviews, and book reviews, but they have never produced anything comparable tofukanin either form or content.Fukan, from its beginnings as the newspaper’s “tail end” to its current richness in content and diversity in layout, has become a defining feature of the Chinese newspaper and a major accomplishment in world journalism. . . .

      Just as literary criticism...

    • 62. Looking Back at the Chinese Literary Arts Association
      (pp. 327-329)

      . . . In 1950, the situation facing our country was still very dire, and the establishment of the Chinese Literary Arts Association certainly gave writers and artists recently arriving in Taiwan from the mainland a lot of encouragement and assistance; at the same time, through their writing and voices, these writers and artists provided the country and society much encouragement and stability.Four Years of Cultivation, edited by the association, describes the establishment of the association and contains the following passage in regard to the social background of the day. Thinking back, four years ago the mainland was taken...

    • 63. Taiwan Consciousness of the Taiwanese People
      (pp. 329-331)

      From my own life experience, I believe thatChina consciousnesscommonly exists among Taiwanese people. My father grew up in a fishing village in northern Taiwan, received a Japanese education. He often talks about how we Chinese are like this or like that, even when it is to criticize the Chinese. He might also say, “We Chinese do not take things seriously but the Japanese do.” Even though his tone is respectful toward the Japanese, he definitely identifies with the Chinese.

      My ordinary Taiwanese father also often talks about how we Taiwanese are like this and like that, but it...

    • 64. Influence and Response! From Concern, Engagement, and Action to “We Have Only One Earth”
      (pp. 331-333)

      The special seriesWe Have Only One Earthreceived the 1982 Golden Tripod Award from the Government Information Office. It is, naturally, a joy to win an award, but what brings us even greater joy is that the subject ofWe Have Only One Earth—the protection of Taiwan’s ecology and environment—has gained the attention and support of so many people. We think back to New Year’s Day 1981, when Ya Xian, editor of the literary supplement to theUnited Daily, who had courageously accepted our proposal, picked that very special day of the first of the year to...

    • 65. Footprints, Sort Of: Superfluous Words on the Launch of the Newsletter of Literary Friends
      (pp. 333-338)

      I never imagined that theNewsletter of Literary Friendswould now be reprinted in its entirety inThe Literary Realm.When Ye Shitao told me the news and asked me to write a little something about the event, I was astounded.

      Is this sort of thing fit for publication? Is it worth writing about? After thinking it over, I was unable to answer in the affirmative.

      Mr. Ye was adamant, however, and I have never been good at saying no when someone insists; I always give in. One could call these the footprints of youth. If in taking the literary...

    • 66. Eternal Quest (in Lieu of a Preface)
      (pp. 338-343)

      With the exceptions of “Little Lin Comes to Taipei” andAmerican Beauties, my fiction has been inspired by characters I have encountered in real life. Their experiences, words, deeds, struggles, sufferings, and absurd behaviors have left an indelible impression on me, such that even ten, twenty, or thirty years later I still can’t forget them. It is as though they have become a part of my life.

      Take “An Oxcart for Dowry,” for instance. When I was in fourth or fifth grade, my relatives told me a sad but fascinating story about a man who was so hungry that he...

    • 67. The Question of Nativization in Taiwanese Literature at the Present Stage
      (pp. 343-346)

      It is obvious that the phrase “Chinese literature in Taiwan” was used widely in the debate on nativist literature. If one were to push such a term to the extreme, then Taiwan would appear as a frontier region and Taiwanese literature a “frontier literature.” Such a concept naturally became the center of controversy.

      Zhan Hongzhi’s essay, “Two Types of Literary Mind,” sparked exactly such a polemic. . . . Zhan’s pessimistic views seem to expand on the literary theories of Chen Yingzhen. That is to say, Taiwanese literature is a branch of Chinese literature. China is the geographical center, and...

    • 68. House of Salt—by Way of Introduction
      (pp. 346-350)
      SHI SHU

      At the end of the 1960s, when Taiwan’s young intellectuals loved to base their thoughts and opinions on existentialism and psychoanalysis, Li Ang was beginning to write fiction. At that time, she adamantly believed that she was trapped in an impossible situation. Besides enduring the difficulty of growing up, she was up against the most boring and yet important choice: the college entrance exam. To her, the choice was between continuing to tolerate the trivial and tedious life in a small village with boundless patience, and going to Taipei, which she imagined to be a world filled with Camus’ strangers....

    • 69. Flaws and Mercy—Preface to The Mulberry Sea
      (pp. 350-351)

      A small-scale perfectionist, I have various and sundry ingrained habits. I use only one particular brand of lined paper and use only one particular pattern. I write with only the kind of ballpoint pen to which I am accustomed. I can write only at my own desk, only after one in the morning, and only after drinking two cups of coffee. I am extremely sensitive to certain things: the texture and hue of the paper, the thickness of the pen point, the fluidity with which it touches the paper, the brightness of the lamplight, the color of the table. ....

    • 70. The Translingual Generation of Poets: Beginning with the Silver Bell Society
      (pp. 352-354)

      The Silver Bell Society was active for six or seven years, from 1943 to 1949, which coincided with the defeat of Japan and the return of Taiwan to China. The level of political turmoil and economic collapse in this period had seldom been seen in the history of Taiwan. Yet during those trying years, a group of young people worked diligently and without compromise to create literature. Because of them, this period in Taiwan’s literary history is not a void. Looking back today, we ought to recognize their unique significance.

      The Silver Bell Society was founded by three classmates at...

    • 71. Heralding a Taiwanese Dawn: Introducing Lin Shuangbu, Novelist of the New Generation, and Appraising Taiwan’s Enfeebled Fiction
      (pp. 354-358)

      After the brutal persecutions in early 1947, a long period of anguish and oppression shrouded Taiwan until the end of 1979, when a widespread and incisive reaction to the unjust rule arose. The chain of events and bloodshed that followed radically transformed popular sentiment and thinking in Taiwan. Like a river of blood, the Zhongli Incident [1977], the Formosa Incident [1979], [the 1981 murder of] Chen Wencheng [1950–1981], [the 1980 murder of the family of ] Lin Yixiong [b. 1941], and an untold number of unjust imprisonments passed before our very eyes, and the public bore witness to these...

    • 72. Sacrificing a Life to Literature Is Nothing to Boast About
      (pp. 359-362)

      It has been exactly ten years since Zhuoliu passed away on October 7, 1976. When I publishedThe Poet of Blood and Iron: Wu Zhuoliu, written by Lü Xingchang, I wrote a short preface with these opening words:

      Counting on my fingers, I realize that Wu Zhuoliu has been gone for seven and a half years already. During this time, how many painful and heartbreaking moments have I endured? The longer I live, the more pain I feel. Perhaps it is a foreboding of old age. As I remember Mr. Wu’s voice and face, I have too many thoughts and...

    • 73. A Painful Confession
      (pp. 362-368)

      . . . These sixty-some years of my life straddle two completely different periods. From childhood through early adolescence, I was educated and grew up under the giant shadow of Japan’s fascist militarism. Moreover, I completed my limited high school education under imperialistic rule and to the sounds of the fifes and drums of the Pacific War. What’s more, I also served as a second-class imperial soldier. After Japan was defeated, I retired as a first-class soldier, thanks to the Potsdam Declaration. So my life until age twenty was no different from that of Japanese men in their sixties today....

    • 74. Something Out of Nothing: On Improvisation and Theater
      (pp. 368-374)

      In the past few years, all of the plays I have had a part in creating went straight to stage performances first and were then followed with written scripts. This may seem strange. It is commonly assumed that a theatrical work begins with a playwright who has written a script, and then the production company finds a director and a designer, selects a cast, and conducts rehearsals. Finally, the play is presented on stage by the cast of actors.

      This is the traditional method, which is efficient and scientific. It’s not for me to criticize the method, for I have...

  7. PART III The Era of Democracy and Globalization (1987–2005)

    • 1. Preface to Series in Contemporary Mainland Chinese Writers: Replies to Inquiries
      (pp. 377-379)
      GUO FENG

      QUESTION 1: Members of New Land are all writers and scholars. Why don’t they devote themselves to creative writing and research, instead of expending their efforts on founding a publishing house that specializes in literary works from mainland China?

      ANSWER: The group of friends that founded New Land entered the field because they love literature. None among them consider themselves famous writers or scholars, even less do they care about external glory. On the contrary, as they gain experience and knowledge, they recognize that the world of Chinese literature is borderless, and they become even more vigilant. . . ....

    • 2. Coming Together for a Long Journey Ahead: Celebrating the Birth of the Taipei Theater Fellowship
      (pp. 379-380)

      The roots of the little theater are still shallow. Only a couple of dozen little theater troupes exist, and their audience is probably only one-thousandth that of television. Yet the impressive boom in the little theater has made it the most energetic part of Taipei’s cultural scene. “Trends are changing with changing times.” As Taiwan’s politics, economy, society, and culture face a moment of crisis, the little theater—tiny though it may be—is poised to play a vanguard role.

      Why? Because the artistic medium of the little theater has the greatest potential to meld with the unstoppable social forces...

    • 3. Preface to Heteroglossia
      (pp. 381-382)

      The term “heteroglossia” has its origin in the lexicon of the Russian critic Mikhail Bakhtin [1895–1975] and signifies the inevitable constraints, differentiation, contradictions, revisions, innovations, and other phenomena occurring in the process of using language and communicating meaning. On the one hand, these phenomena reveal the characteristics of written language evolving in the flux of time and changing space, while on the other, they mark language’s multiple reciprocal relationships with social and cultural structures. Refuting the premise of the linguistic concept of “monoglossia,” “heteroglossia” also makes us rethink the humanist categories of culture, history, and politics. It reminds us...

    • 4. Writing a Literature with a Nationality
      (pp. 382-383)

      After the Civil Associations Act became law [in 1989], any organization that originally had used the word “Taiwan” in its name was forced to change it before it could be officially registered. On the eve of the stipulated deadline for registration, the Ministry of the Interior rejected any application to establish an organization with a name containing the word “Taiwan” as inappropriate. This was the government’s way of officially renouncing Taiwan. When it came to the human rights movement, the environmental movement, and other movements in Taiwan, irrespective of their objective, focus, and impact, none could go beyond the bounds;...

    • 5. Recovering Our Names
      (pp. 384-384)
    • 6. Preface to Complete Works of Taiwanese Writers
      (pp. 385-387)

      The great wheels of time have rumbled past the 1980s and ushered in a brand-new era—the 1990s. Having begun its course in the 1920s, Taiwanese literature is impacted by the turbulence of time as it enters an era that will in all likelihood be very different from those of the past. Just what kind of literature will Taiwanese literature of the 1990s be? Before we attempt to answer this question, it would seem even more important that we should ask first: What kind of literature is Taiwanese literature?

      It has been said that Taiwanese literature is the literature native...

    • 7. If the Poets Don’t Die, the Thieves Won’t Quit: The Predicament of Taiwan’s Poetry Scene and How to Resolve It
      (pp. 388-391)

      The development of modern poetry has always been a contested topic, so much so that one cannot help but feel that “if the poets don’t die, the thieves won’t quit.” But it is incontrovertible that the poets are still writing poetry, and new poets are rising up to replace the old ones. As we stride into the 1990s, we may as well revisit this topic.

      If we say that there is some kind of predicament facing modern poetry, on the face of it, it must be the following issues.

      1. Difficulty publishing poetry

      2. Difficulty publishing poetry collections and difficulty...

    • 8. She Waves the Flag: Preface to Ping Lu’s New Collection Who Killed XXX?
      (pp. 391-393)

      In the prefaces I have written previously, I simply introduced the author and the work. That is pretty much what I intend to do here, but nowadays it is no longer fashionable to say “introduce.” Nowadays you say “read.” A “reading” is a bit broader than an “introduction,” because you not only read the work, you also read the author. To go one step further, the reader himself or herself needs to be read too. By adding layer upon layer of reading, the reader constructs a complex hermeneutic framework. . . .

      So much contemporary literature is hard to understand,...

    • 9. Diary
      (pp. 393-395)

      No matter what, I must begin working on my book today.

      After reading some stories from the series inTragedy of Geniusabout artists who devoted their lives to art, I had a heavy heart. How seriously true artists take their art. People like van Gogh, Gauguin, Toulouse-Lautrec, Modigliani, Utrillo, Soutine, Dégas, and Munch, how madly they painted. Without that kind of perseverance, passion, resolve to cast off everything, and devotion to art above all else, how can one achieve anything? As a novelist, one has an even tougher path than a painter. Novelists cannot depend on pigments in the...

    • 10. Literature of the Military Family Village: The Inheritance and Abandonment of Homesickness
      (pp. 395-400)

      In Taiwan, many government and public education agencies once provided housing for employees and their dependents. Gradually, these housing facilities developed their own unique style or set of characteristics. However, when people mentionjuancun[lit. “dependents’ village”], what they mean is the military family housing built by the government after it relocated to Taiwan. From Shimen in the north to Hengchun down south, they were built next to military bases. Numbering in the hundreds, they were collectively called “New Villages” and were given names based on branches of the armed services and political slogans. These densely situated, humble houses harbored...

    • 11. Discovering a New Taiwan: On Wang Qimei’s Collage
      (pp. 400-401)

      Provoked by the social ills of Taiwan, the irate voice of Wang Qimei [b. 1946] could be heard in her 1987 playOrphan in the World. Enraged, she was anxious to cure Taiwan with a heavy dose of medicine. The tone of the play is solemn and serious. Like a tightly strung string, the play makes the audience reflect in dismay and sweat in anxiety.

      Perhaps she found such “admonition” too explicit, as if she were lecturing the audience with a long face. Five years later, Wang loosened her string in the 1992 Branch Edition ofOrphan. In addition to...

    • 12. Inaugural Editorial of the Taiwanese Poetics Quarterly
      (pp. 402-403)

      Chinese poetry, which is to say, poetry that uses the Chinese script as its medium of expression, has a long and venerable history. Modern-style poetry in Taiwan, on the other hand, had its inception only in the 1920s and is less than a century old. Nonetheless, a wide variety of poetic styles have emerged at historical junctures as a result of numerous internal and external factors. First, there was the bitter and defiant verse in the latter part of the Japanese occupation period, then the subdued and desolate in the early postwar period, followed by forty years of ebb and...

    • 13. The World of Mountains and Seas: Preface to the Inaugural Issue of the Culture of Mountains and Seas Bimonthly
      (pp. 403-404)

      A boriginal literature’s gradual growth since the 1970s has been an important new trend in the Taiwanese cultural sphere, but it has not entered into the average person’s field of vision. It is important, not only because it points to a literary tradition grounded in “mountains and seas,” but, more significantly, we are finally able to see indigenous writers attempting to use their identities to recount their tribal experiences and unleash their creative forces, which have been pent up for centuries. With the imaginative power of their literature and art, as well as their deep and unadorned life wisdom, from...

    • 14. Who Is Going to Wear My Beautiful Knit Dress?
      (pp. 404-406)

      A group of old women assemble gleefully and change into the brightly colored costumes of the Amei tribe shortly before the performance. From time to time, their uninhibited laughter can be heard from the fitting room. Curious, I go closer for a look. It turns out that they are teasing one another about their bodies and skin. Having endured excessive labor, birthing, and aging early on in their lives, their faces are inevitably marked by the tracks of merciless time. The originally tender skin is now covered with layers of cellulite like tree rings. Are they disheartened or concerned? I...

    • 15. Summer Mist
      (pp. 406-407)

      . . . One day in November of 1976, when I had just enrolled in the history department at National Taiwan University (NTU), I was attending a literature lecture (I don’t recall the precise title) at Tamkang University with several friends who were also literature lovers. Not long after the lecture began, we entered into an argument over the question of nativist literature with Li Yuanzhen and Li Shuangze, who were in the audience, which resulted in a street fight in which there were no casualties, only confusion.

      Thinking back on it now, the target of their literary campaigns (“modernist...

    • 16. Postscript to On the Island’s Edge
      (pp. 408-409)
      CHEN LI

      . . . I ponder, I respond to, I hunger for the outside world by means of the world in which I live. I live on an island’s edge, but I think that the island’s edge can also be the center of the world. I do my own thing, teaching, writing, reading things I like in the world: Messiaen, Nono, Issa, Higashiyama Kaii, Borges, Barthes, Shi Tao, Rilke . . . ¹ I am restless, but from time to time my personal life gives me some traction, helps me to settle down. I know that there are some things that...

    • 17. On Ku’er: Reflections on Ku’er and Ku’er Literature in Contemporary Taiwan
      (pp. 409-412)
      JI DAWEI

      On such occasions as seminars or interviews on the radio or television, the moderator or host often attaches the labelku’ erto me. What is interesting is that the first question they usually ask me is: What isku’ er?

      This makes me wonder: If they do not know whatku’ ermeans, why do they use it to define me? Like many new terms that appeared in the 1980s and 1990s,ku’ erhas existed and even entered popular usage, although people cannot say what it really means. On buses, you see advertisements forku’ erunderpants, and...

    • 18. Preface: Just Who Is the Devil with a Chastity Belt?
      (pp. 412-414)
      LI ANG

      After my novelLabyrinthine Gardenwas published in 1991, I became acutely aware that with the changes taking place, Taiwan’s liberalization was inevitable. When that happened, it would finally be possible to write political fiction.

      During the four decades of the repressive White Terror and martial law era, writers were compelled to avoid real life in their works and to write only about the subjective inner world. Those who dared to get involved in current affairs suffered a predictable outcome—singing the “Green Island Nocturne.” Broaching this topic in fiction was even less feasible.

      In the wake of increasing liberalization,...

    • 19. Wandering in Gods’ Garden (in Lieu of a Preface)
      (pp. 414-417)

      Speaking of literary supplements, let me first quote something I wrote previously. It is from June 1946, when I first went to Shanghai and read some of those famous newspapers that I had heard of for a long time.

      What really thrilled and enthralled me were the literary supplements to the newspapers. Open a newspaper and the literary supplement is displayed quietly before you. Run your eye over the entire page and it is like a garden filled with colorful flowers, all laid out before your eyes. It is such a wonderful feeling. A literary supplement need not be read...

    • 20. Saving a Boatload of Starlight: The Story of How Mr. Wang Tiwu Gave Financial Assistance to Young Writers
      (pp. 417-419)

      In 1976, Luo Xueliang (Ma Ge) was the editor in chief of theUnited Dailyliterary supplement. Within only one year, he undertook two important projects, one of which was theUnited DailyPrize for Literature (Fiction). As soon as the prize was announced, it was taken seriously by the literary world and the academic community, attracted a considerable number of superb new writers, and produced a glorious blossoming in the garden of literature.

      The second project was relatively unknown to the outside world. Beginning that year, to help promising young writers to continue their creative work without financial pressure,...

    • 21. The Activist Character of the Literary Supplement to the United Daily
      (pp. 419-422)

      The activist character of a print media outlet such as a newspaper supplement depends, first of all, on an open space, provided by the publisher, in which it can pursue activism. Next, the editor must formulate a clear editorial consciousness based on a high level of empathy for the experience of the participants, as well as an intimate sense of the changes in the times and society and the intellectual trends in literature and culture. Then, he must put that consciousness into action through various means, such as planned editorial work and strategic activities.

      There is no doubt that newspaper...

    • 22. Newspaper Literary Supplements and the Nobel Prize in Literature: A Personal Reflection
      (pp. 422-425)

      Every year, immediately after the winner of the Nobel Prize in Literature is announced, newspaper literary supplements invariably follow the news with reports. The practice actually began in the late 1970s, when Ya Xian took the helm of the literary supplement to theUnited Daily.Before that, literary supplements tended to adopt a passive approach. Except for translations of reports from foreign news agencies, the supplements would decide whether or not to do an introduction (let alone a special report) based solely on the articles they could get. In 1969, when the Irish playwright Samuel Beckett won the Nobel Prize...

    • 23. On Bai
      (pp. 425-426)

      First let me say something about the character bai 稗.

      Based on my impression and experience, the character is often mispronounced as “bei,” “pai,” “bi,” or any other similar character. Actually, this character is pronounced “bai” in Mandarin. It appears in volume 13, chapter 7A of the dictionaryShuowen jiezi[Explaining and analyzing characters]. The compiler, Xu Shen [ca. 58–147], defines it simply as “a different kind of grain.” That means it belongs to the grain family but is different from those with which we are familiar.

      When Du Yu [222–285] annotatedZuo’s Annals of the Spring and...

    • 24. Retrospect on Thirty Years of Taiwan Literary Arts
      (pp. 427-430)

      Historical records show that there are six journals that have used the titleTaiwan Literary Arts.It would seem that this title has a special allure for literary people in Taiwan, and this is not only restricted to the Taiwanese, for even the Japanese in Taiwan also happily adopted this name. For example, the first time this title appeared was in 1902, when some Japanese writers living in Taiwan founded a journal under this title; five issues were published before it folded. The next example was a journal under the direction of the famous poet and novelist, Nishikawa Mitsuru. This...

    • 25. Foreword II: On Taiwan’s Literary Canon
      (pp. 431-432)

      In March 1999, when the new millennium was just around the corner, numerous retrospectives and reflections got underway, along with many planned celebratory activities. The Conference on the Taiwanese Literary Canon, organized by theUnited Dailyliterary supplement under the auspices of the Council of Cultural Affairs, took place on the 19th to the 21st at the National Library.

      Roughly two months have elapsed from the date when the Taiwanese literary canon was announced at the conclusion of the conference. As many as eighty reports and reviews were published in print media. During the threeday conference, cable and noncable television...

    • 26. To the Reader: Preface to the Unitas Edition of Complete Works of Luo Zhicheng
      (pp. 433-434)

      What an amazing thing! How is it that you have noticed, even enjoyed, my work?

      You are scattered all over, before and after the springtime of adolescence, on both shores of the Milky Way, in certain lucid or entranced corners of the fin-de-siècle.

      You are mostly anonymous, unknown, dissimilar to one another.

      I crouch at my desk, sometimes hard at work, sometimes lonely, sometimes alienated and selfish, sometimes impassioned and romantic. All the same, I never have time to attend to others: neither in my life nor when I am writing . . .

      But then, why is it that...

    • 27. Broken Chinese and Good Work
      (pp. 434-436)

      Milan Kundera, inTestaments Betrayed,defends “the relatively restricted vocabulary” of Kafka’s language and opposes the way the translator takes the repetition of common diction, which is a salient trait of Kafka’s language, and turns it into “richness of vocabulary.” In doing so, he touches on an important concept: “Richness of vocabulary is not a value in itself. The breadth of the vocabulary depends on the aesthetic intention governing the work.”¹ To put it another way, when it comes to writing, aesthetic intention takes precedence over the richness or paucity of vocabulary; the latter should be decided by the former,...

    • 28. Like a Road Sign That Looks Ahead and Behind: Introduction to Compendium of Taiwanese-language Literature
      (pp. 436-439)

      Taiwanese people possess a divergent national consciousness due to the position of the nation. This has led to many debates in the world of Taiwanese literature over the last thirty years. The concept of what is “Taiwanese literature” and what is “Taiwanese language literature,” which ought to be so simple that one can figure it out using one’s knees, have nevertheless become problematic concerning the position of Taiwanese literature, authors, and content, as well as the written language employed. Postwar Taiwanese literature also has changed much and developed rapidly over the past thirty years. The appearance of Taiwanese language literature...

    • 29. The Brave New World of the Mother Tongue: Taiwanese-language Literature Under Construction
      (pp. 440-441)

      The trajectory of the New Literature movement in Taiwan, which began in the 1920s, parallels that of the New Literature movement in China, which started in 1917. Both were influenced by international circumstances and domestic social changes in the late nineteenth century. As Tse-Tsung Chow observes inThe May Fourth Movement: Intellectual Revolution in Modern China[1960], the movement used literature to overturn the morbid, old tradition and replace it with a new culture.

      Another characteristic shared by the Taiwanese New Literature movement and the Chinese May Fourth movement is that they had to tackle the most important issue of...

    • 30. A Flower Recalls Its Previous Incarnation: Remembering Zhang Ailing and Hu Lancheng
      (pp. 442-445)

      Zhang Ailing passed away in September 1995. My younger sister Tianxin and I turned down all requests for interviews and written comments. Even our unconventional father disagreed with our decision. All I could say was: “Absence is a form of condolence.”

      Shortly afterward, however, a stream of memorial essays, correspondences, reminiscences, and anecdotes appeared in print. They contained repeated references to Hu Lancheng and to his connection withThree-Three.

      Three-Threeis a journal I launched when I was a junior in college. Two years later, in April 1977, we founded Three-Three Bookstore. At the time, Mr. Hu’sMountains and Rivers...

    • 31. The Mysterious Revelations of Nature Writing
      (pp. 446-448)

      It is generally believed that nature writing in contemporary Taiwan has evolved since the 1980s. This transforming genre inherits traditional literature which depicts nature on the one hand, and responds to Taiwan’s environmental and econopolitical conditions on the other.

      A pioneer of environmental history, Donald Worster holds that environmental history should be a deepening of historical study on Earth and a discovery of a new dimension of history. Typically, discussions of colonial culture focus on political domination, economic exploitation, and cultural hegemony by way of explaining the identity crisis of the colonized as manifested in “aphasia” and “amnesia.” However, Alfred...

    • 32. Building a Bridge for Taiwanese Literature: Foreword to the Newsletter of the National Museum of Taiwan Literature
      (pp. 448-449)

      In April 1997, a number of representative experts and scholars on the cultural scene attended a public hearing in Taipei held by the legislative branch regarding a museum of modern literature. The majority of the participants did not approve of subsuming such a museum under the National Center for Research and Preservation of Cultural Properties as the Division of Literary Historical Archives, alongside the four other divisions, Preservation of Historical Artifacts, Appraisal of Cultural Artifacts, Conservation Technology, and Education and Promotion. It was foreseeable that if a division of such a different nature was placed among the existing divisions, its...

    • 33. A Perspective on Prose
      (pp. 450-450)

      It has been twenty-odd years since I made birds the focus of my writing as a young man. The genre and scope of my works have rarely strayed from mountains, rivers, and other natural subjects. Because most of my encounters are with bugs, fish, plants, and trees in the wild, as well as naturalists doing field studies, I’ve gotten in the habit of traveling all about and constantly transcribing my observations. Moreover, having been baptized in the waters of the environmental movement, everything I see and hear on this clod of earth called Taiwan provides literary nourishment that cannot be...

    • 34. My Story of the Chinese Language—Roaming
      (pp. 450-456)

      Thirty years ago, there was a sojourner.

      This sojourner traveled from Borneo in the South Pacific to Taiwan in the eastern Pacific, where he enrolled in NTU’s Department of Foreign Languages and Literatures. One bleak winter day, this sojourner from the tropics, his head bowed and arms full of books, wandered like a specter along the verdant path in front of the Freshmen Building, feeling dazed and confused. Teacher Liu Ailin, who was very fond of him, was wearing a floral-patterned cheongsam dress and smiled as she walked daintily forward to tug at his sleeve, asking, “Are you sure you...

    • 35. A First Step Out of “Migration Literature”
      (pp. 457-460)

      Migration, whether we mean transnational movement or internal movement within one nation for economic or political reasons, is bound to affect one’s life in some fundamental ways.

      Migration is more likely than not caused by flux in society and is more often than not accompanied by separation of family, deprivation of livelihood, even a return to a primitive state and the loss and desperate rediscovery of meaning. Yet, despite the fact that migration is a historical phenomenon that is as old as humankind, glimpses of which can be found in fragments in official records, reportage, folktales, and legends, it has...

    • 36. Hakka Literature, Literary Hakka
      (pp. 460-461)
      LI QIAO

      . . . Generally speaking, there are three criteria (or dimensions) for defining Hakka literature. First, a work contains “Hakka consciousness.” Hakka have their own lifestyle, pattern of behavior, mode of thinking, and values. Second, the author is Hakka. Third, a work is written in the Hakka language of everyday life.

      These three criteria may sound clear and straightforward, but when we analyze them further, they are entangled, vague, and full of pitfalls. First of all, if the Hakka consciousness is not anchored in particular aspects of living, behaving, thinking, and values, the statement has no meaning. When it comes...

    • 37. The End of the Military Family Village
      (pp. 462-463)

      There was a group of people who had few relatives but many neighbors. Their understanding of “kin” began with their neighbors. During Chinese New Year and holidays, every household would offer sacrifices to ancestors, but they had no ancestral tombs to visit. Their parents spoke with an accent. Behind closed doors, they spoke with their parents in the dialect of their ancestors; but once they left the house they spoke various dialects with the kids on the street or at school. (They had learned to speak other people’s mother tongues at a tender age and enjoyed communicating with others and...

    • 38. Interview with Wu He
      (pp. 463-472)
      ZHU TIANXIN and Wu He

      zhu: . . . You have said in private that literary experimentation is a matter of give and take. For example, after submitting a piece that conforms to the reader’s expectations, your next piece will have room for experimentation. Can you say a little about what you tried to experiment with inChaos Fan? wu: An artistic medium is not merely a tool for creation; the medium is also the object of creation. It’s impossible for me to feel comfortable with preexisting forms and only pursue content. In this work, I turned things upside-down and then turned them upside-down again....

    • 39. Zhang Xiaofeng on Prose
      (pp. 473-474)

      Occasionally, I run into foreigners here at home or abroad. Sometimes I have to introduce myself; sometimes I am introduced by my friends.

      Most likely I will never see those strangers again. It is just a one-time meeting, nothing like sworn sisterhood. There is no need to give a full introduction. I usually just say: “How do you do?”

      That’s all. But sometimes they ask questions. Perhaps intrigued by my friend’s bragging, I get excited. Generally speaking, if a friend introduces me as Mrs. Lin, foreigners are not interested in asking any questions. If my friend says I am a...

    • 40. Preface to the New Edition of Born Under the Twelfth Star Sign
      (pp. 475-476)

      . . . What kind of work will I still write?

      Have I lost those beautiful, undaunted qualities from my past? Have I let nothingness seize—and formal complexity cloud—the passion of my youth to tenaciously explore a rope dangling in the deep well of human nature?

      Am I copying others’ handiwork? Dependent on a towering, fully developed tradition (whether Chinese or Western), am I groping blindly in the treasure house of quotations of an imaginary “ideal reader”? Or is it all just a prostration before the magnificent Parthenon—“writing is flesh is existence”—choosing a role and mimicking...

    • 41. Ocean Tide Loves Me Best: A Dialogue Between Sun Dachuan and Xiaman Lanpoan
      (pp. 476-482)
      Sun Dachuan and Xiaman Lanpoan

      SUN: It is a rare opportunity to talk about your creative work and indigenous literature in the cradle of contemporary Taiwanese literature, Stars Café. We know that since the 1980s, as indigenous subjectivity developed, some young people entered the world of writing one by one. From a certain standpoint, the so-called indigenous literature written in modern Chinese has developed for fifteen years. Today I would like to look at your creative work and place it in the context of indigenous literature on the one hand, and to talk about your work and thinking in the context of Taiwanese literature, or...

      (pp. 483-508)
      (pp. 509-518)
      (pp. 519-526)
      (pp. 527-540)
    • INDEX
      (pp. 541-566)