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From Ah Q to Lei FengFreud and Revolutionary Spirit in 20th Century China$
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Wendy Larson

Print publication date: 2008

Print ISBN-13: 9780804700757

Published to Stanford Scholarship Online: June 2013

DOI: 10.11126/stanford/9780804700757.001.0001

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The Spirit of the Countryside

The Spirit of the Countryside

Mang Ke's Wild Things and Wang Xiaobo's The Golden Years

(p.115) Four The Spirit of the Countryside
From Ah Q to Lei Feng
Stanford University Press

Twentieth-century Chinese fiction has tackled the long discourse of the countryside that brought to the fore conflicts between revolution and modernity. One writer who explored the countryside or village life through memories was Shen Congwen, who is often associated with the term “nativism” (xiangtu) in modern Chinese literature. This chapter analyzes two Chinese novels that are set during the Cultural Revolution: Wild Things (1994) by Mang Ke and The Golden Years (1991) by Wang Xiaobo. Both narratives tackle spiritual aspects of the countryside as it was imagined under revolutionary culture. Wild Things disallows the countryside as a site of intellectual rejuvenation and anti-civilization symbolism, while The Golden Years establishes—but never directly represents—revolutionary time as an abstract notion and offers an idiosyncratic depiction of sexual relations. The essentially temporal vision in The Golden Years complements the spatial orientation in Wild Things.

Keywords:   Chinese literature, countryside, Cultural Revolution, Wild Things, Mang Ke, The Golden Years, Wang Xiaobo, sexual relations, modernity, revolution

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