Chai Ao, MA Student, Graduate Institute of Taiwan Literature, National Taiwan University
According to scholars, a rich tradition of women’s writing has developed in Taiwan. In the 1950s a great number of highly educated women writers came to Taiwan, where they prospered under the Kuomintang’s Mandarin Chinese policy, enjoying a large readership among those who wanted something other than anti-Communist literature. Women’s writing of this period featured homesickness and nostalgia, emotional expression, and historical stories of China. In the 1960s, modernism was the dominant force in literature and there were major female modernists, such as Chen Ruoxi and Ouyang Tzu. In the 1970s and 1980s, newspaper supplements were the main literary force, and two major newspapers set up big literary prizes. As a result, many up-and-coming women writers threw themselves into literary activity. Their gentle lyricism was at times critcized as “feminine.” When martial law was lifted, more and more voices on the margins began to be heard. Many women writers who had already made names for themselves – Zhu Tianxin, Zhu Tianwen, Su Weizhen, Li Ang, and Ping Lu – dared to experiment. Neither female desire nor national identity escaped their incisive pens, which were strong enough to rival the masculine, Sinocentric, and heterosexual bias of mainstream Taiwanese literature of the past..
Edited by Professors Jiang Bao-chai and Fan Ming-ju, The Songstress Isle is a classic reader that revisits the history of Taiwanese women’s literature. The earliest text, dating from the period of Japanese colonial rule, is Yang Qianhe’s “The Blooming Season” and the most recent is Qiu Miaojin’s “Notes of a Crocodile.” The evolution and elaboration of women’s literature – from Yang’s portrayal of sisterhood to Qiu’s resolute description of lesbian love – serve as both echo and contrast. The book contains major writings by women from each period and includes many literary classics: Lin Haiyin’s “The Carp’s Hundred-fold Skirt,” which uses the language of clothes and apparel to symbolize women’s changing social status; Chen Ruoxi’s “The Last Night,” one of the few modernist works to touch on issues of both Taiwanese identity and gender inequality; Ouyang Tzu’s “The Sorceress,” a work describing the dark side of human nature.
Both Yuan Qiongqiong’s “A Place of One’s Own” and Liao Huiying’s “Ah Fei” confront contemporary social issues: the former describes women coming to self-awareness and the latter talks about women suffering misfortune because of internalized patriarchal oppression. Shi Shuqing’s “A Guileless Grumble” is a realist work, written after she relocated to Hong Kong. Zhu Tianwen’s “Fin-de-siècle Splendor” and her sister Zhu Tianxin’s “Missing My Brothers in the Military Dependents’ Village” mark a stylistic departure. Writing about their recollections of everyday life and material culture, the sisters broke with mainstream narrative traditions.
|Related Literary Themes：||Women’s Writing|