Wang Li-ju, Ph.D. Student, Department of Taiwan Culture, Languages, and Literature, National Taiwan Normal University
Qiong Yao’s role as queen of romance and unofficial guide for young women in the exploration of love spanned three decades, from the 1960s to the 1980s. Her unadorned writing style and engrossing plots, allied to her prolific output and the professional marketing of the entertainment industry since the 1970s, secured her best-selling status in Taiwan. Based on research into thirty years of Qiong Yao’s work, Lin Fangmei’s Decoding Qiong Yao’s World of Romance deals with the changing representation of women and family in Qiong Yao’s romantic fiction. Lin uses feminist theory, romance genre research, and interviews with readers to decode the world of romance single-handedly constructed by Qiong Yao.
Qiong Yao’s writing career began well before the lifting of martial law in Taiwan, when government-sanctioned writers were still the mainstream; later on, popular and romantic fiction would flourish. The entanglements of love and intimate family relationships discussed in her novels have also changed over time. Decoding Qiong Yao’s World of Romance divides the 1960s−1980s period into decades, showing how Yao’s romantic fiction has followed social changes in Taiwan. The development is threefold: evolution in the concepts of romance and love, changes in literary production and remuneration structure, and the changing relationship between reader and writer. In addition to analyzing the formulas of Qiong Yao’s romantic fiction, Lin Fangmei also notes contemporary literary criticisms of Qiong Yao, revealing the contradictions and anxieties inherent in the way writers of popular and literary fiction regarded each other.
Qiong Yao’s early works focus on family conflicts over love. The women in her books often persevere for the sake of love and try to overcome family restrictions; when they ultimately yield, patriarchal power and Confucian morality are legitimized. Qiong Yao moved on from written fiction to other media, such as films and serialized television dramas, going from novelist to screenwriter. As before, familial and romantic love continued to be her thematic staples. But Decoding Qiong Yao’s World of Romance shows that although there appears to be a mutual conflict between familial and romantic love, the latter is in fact subordinated to the former, as if the once free-flying bird will eventually return to its warm nest. The book also argues that this is the source Qiong Yao of lasting popularity.
|Related Literary Themes：||Women’s Writing|