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The Semblance of IdentityAesthetic Mediation in Asian American Literature$
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Christopher Lee

Print publication date: 2012

Print ISBN-13: 9780804778701

Published to Stanford Scholarship Online: June 2013

DOI: 10.11126/stanford/9780804778701.001.0001

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The Strange Smell of Truth

The Strange Smell of Truth

Ethnicity, Translation, and Realism in the Cold War Writings of Eileen Chang

Chapter:
(p.23) One The Strange Smell of Truth
Source:
The Semblance of Identity
Publisher:
Stanford University Press
DOI:10.11126/stanford/9780804778701.003.0002

This chapter examines the Cold War writings of Eileen Chang (Zhang Ailing, 1920–1995), one of the most celebrated figures in modern Chinese literature. Despite living in the United States for four decades, Chang has been largely neglected in Asian American Studies. This chapter looks at issues of ethnicity, identity politics, and realism in her bilingual writings and translation practices and how her works influenced the identity-based expectations that conditioned her entry in the U.S. literary market. It also considers the ways in which Chang tackled theoretical and aesthetic issues that would later figure prominently in Asian American literature. In addition, the chapter discusses the prehistory of the Asian American idealized critical subject by examining Chang's oeuvre, including The Rice-Sprout Song and Naked Earth, in which she highlights the limits of realism.

Keywords:   Cold War, Eileen Chang, Asian American Studies, ethnicity, identity politics, realism, United States, Asian American literature, idealized critical subject, The Rice-Sprout Song

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