Qiu Maojing, MA student, Graduate Institute of Taiwan Literature, National Taiwan University
In 2010 the National Museum of Taiwan Literature launched “A History of Taiwan Literature” project, a work of thirty-three volumes, including Era of Exploration – The Development of Postwar Taiwanese Modernist Fiction, co-written by scholars Liao Shufang and Bao Yawen. The project traces Taiwanese literature’s historical development, and Era of Exploration is the seventeenth volume in the series, indicating the modernist spirit’s central position in the Taiwanese literary tradition.
Era of Exploration examines Taiwanese modernist literature rise and development in the postwar era, discussing literary works produced under the auspices of the KMT’s anti-Communist literature policy during the Cold War period. From 1950 to 1965 Taiwan received American economic assistance; thus, society gradually came to view Americanization as the road to modernity and progress. The authors examine the interaction between Xia Jian’s Literature Review and the United States Information Service, as well as Modern Literature magazine’s later declaration that it would undertake “disruptive construction work,” showing that the United States introduced and promoted “Western modernist” works and philosophy in cooperation with Taiwanese universities’ foreign language and literature departments. The writings and translations produced by prominent literati of the time – Bai Xianyong, Wang Wenxing, Ye Weilian, Chen Ruoxi, Ouyang Zi, and others – reveal the spirit of modernism that nourished these writers’ creative endeavors.
The authors grouped works of 1960s Taiwanese modernist fiction according to theme: “Exile and Banishment,” “Alienation and Anxiety,” “Sexual Desire,” etc. Stylistically, there was a tendency among writers to experiment with rhetorical devices: inverting or displacing vocabulary, interchanging parts of speech, and using rarely seen Chinese characters. Narrative techniques emphasized the description of psychological states and thought processes, as well as changes in narrative tone. Although the 1970s marked a return to realism, there was a turn toward cultural pluralism in the 1980s, with literary production largely moving in the direction of postmodern deconstructionist thought. Nevertheless, since the end of the Second World War, the modernist spirit has been firmly planted in Taiwanese literature’s fertile soil. Some call this spirit “avant-gardism;” perhaps a quote from the Confucian classic Great Learning aptly characterizes modernism’s significance: “If you can one day renovate yourself, do so from day to day. Yea, let there be daily renovation.” 1
1Trans. James Legge: http://en.wikisource.org/wiki/The_Great_Learning
|Related Literary Themes：||Modernist Literature|