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Tales of Futures PastAnticipation and the Ends of Literature in Contemporary China$
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Paola Iovene

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9780804789370

Published to Stanford Scholarship Online: January 2015

DOI: 10.11126/stanford/9780804789370.001.0001

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Futures en Abyme

Futures en Abyme

Poetry in Strange Loops

Chapter:
(p.107) 4 Futures en Abyme
Source:
Tales of Futures Past
Author(s):

Paola Iovene

Publisher:
Stanford University Press
DOI:10.11126/stanford/9780804789370.003.0005

The chapter examines the complex temporal structures in works from the 1980s to the early 1990s inspired by the late Tang poet Li Shangyin. It details the reception of Li Shangyin’s poetry and its influence, and then analyses its place in the works of contemporary novelists Wang Meng and Ge Fei. Ge Fei’s “Brocade Zither” (1993) is characterized by a recursive structure that recalls the figure of the “strange loop” discussed in Hofstadter’s Gödel, Escher, Bach: An Eternal Golden Braid (1979; Chinese translation, 1984). The chapter focuses on fictional depictions of scenes of reading and writing, arguing that their mode of anticipation reflects an anxiety of loss of cultural identity and of life itself. Ge Fei has been appreciated for his modernist preoccupation with the elusive nature of memory. However, his writing is equally concerned with the states of apprehension that shape how characters act.

Keywords:   Li Shangyin, Wang Meng, Ge Fei, Chinese classical poetry, menglong shi, “misty poetry,” post-Mao literature

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