Liu Shuzhen, Dr., Graduate Institute of Taiwanese Literature, National Chengchi University
Days on the Ark: Writings from Taiwan Military Dependents’ Villages is one of the fruits of the “History of Taiwan Literature Compilation Project,” a series launched by the Museum of Taiwan Literature in 2010. The series was authored by thirty-six scholars and experts in the field, its aim being to offer the most direct portal of entry for those with an interest in the literature of Taiwan. The series may also serve as texts for related university courses, providing guided readings for students and instructors. Written by Yang Chia-Hsien, a longtime scholar of dependents’ village literature, Days on the Ark: Writings from Taiwan Military Dependents’ Villages chronologically categorizes and critiques writings from dependents’ villages.
Days on the Ark takes its title from Zhu Tianxin’s novel of the same name, the “ark” a metaphor for the imaginary utopia of the villages. Yang’s book looks at the origins, characteristics, and evolution of dependents’ village literature, attempting to fix its position in Taiwan’s literary history. The author charts the changes that took place in the writing over time, dividing her discussion into three parts: works written prior to 1970, works that were written in the decade from 1970 to 1980, and those that came after 1980. According to Yang, the first generation of authors still dreamed of returning to China to defeat the communists, and the dependents’ villages do not figure much in their writings. It was not until the 1970s that a second generation of writers emerged and began producing works that centered on the villages themselves.
From the 1980s on, a new and highly fruitful vein of writing appears which not only recreates personal experiences of the village but also elaborates a self-referential narrative and critique of the village’s collective memories. The section “Utopia and the Military Dependents’ Village: A Remembering and Preparing to Say Goodbye” discusses the works of Su Weizhen, Yuan Ch'iung-ch'iung, and Ku Ling and the early works of Zhu Tianxin and Zhu Tianwen. “A Changing Utopia” uses the theme of broken ideals to look at the works of Zhang Dachun, Sun Weimang, and Zhang Qijiang and the later works of Su Weizhen, Zhu Tianxin, and Zhu Tianwen. Interestingly, apart from its focus on the literature of the military dependents’ village, the book introduces work from amateur writers as well, thus imperceptibly expanding the scope of dependents’ village literature. Because Yang’s work is an introductory study of the literature of the military dependents’ village, readers with a deeper interest in the subject can also consult Hibiscus Blossom and Imagining Home (2011), compiled by Zhang Hanbi.
|Related Literary Themes：||Writings from Military Dependents’ Villages|