Writing Taiwan

A New Literary History

Writing Taiwan

Asia-Pacific: Culture, Politics, and Society

More about this series

Book Pages: 424 Illustrations: Published: January 2007

Asian Studies, Literature and Literary Studies > Literary Theory

Writing Taiwan is the first volume in English to examine the entire span of modern Taiwan literature, from the first decades of the twentieth century to the present. In this collection, leading literary scholars based in Taiwan and the United States consider prominent Taiwanese authors and works in genres including poetry, travel writing, and realist, modernist, and postmodern fiction. The diversity of Taiwan literature is signaled by the range of authors treated, including Yang Chichang, who studied Japanese literature in Tokyo in the early 1930s and wrote all of his own poetry and fiction in Japanese; Li Yongping, an ethnic Chinese born in Malaysia and educated in Taiwan and the United States; and Liu Daren, who was born in mainland China and effectively exiled from Taiwan in the 1970s on account of his political activism.

Because the island of Taiwan spent the first half of the century as a colony of Japan and the second half in an umbilical relationship to China, its literature challenges basic assumptions about what constitutes a “national literature.” Several contributors directly address the methodological and epistemological issues involved in writing about “Taiwan literature.” Other contributors investigate the cultural and political grounds from which specific genres and literary movements emerged. Still others explore themes of history and memory in Taiwan literature and tropes of space and geography, looking at representations of boundaries as well as the boundary-crossing global flows of commodities and capital. Like Taiwan’s history, modern Taiwan literature is rife with conflicting legacies and impulses. Writing Taiwan reveals a sense of its richness and diversity to English-language readers.

Contributors. Yomi Braester, Sung-sheng Yvonne Chang, Fangming Chen, Lingchei Letty Chen, Chaoyang Liao, Ping-hui Liao, Joyce C. H. Liu, Kim-chu Ng, Carlos Rojas, Xiaobing Tang, Ban Wang, David Der-wei Wang, Gang Gary Xu, Michelle Yeh, Fenghuang Ying


Writing Taiwan . . . provides us one of the many creative ways of narrating Taiwan, reminding us that hybridity and difference are not a destination but a point of departure for our re-examination of the extremely rich heritage of Taiwan literature. In an era in which the borders of literature are being constantly redrawn and the legitimacy of literature renegotiated, this volume should be received more as a memento of a self-reflexive attitude toward literary history than an attempt to revise existing literary historiography.” — Pei-Yin Lin, Modern Chinese Literature and Culture

Writing Taiwan is the first study in English to examine the complex, multifaceted development of Taiwanese literature from the early 1930s to the late 1990s. This excellent book contains 16 essays written by scholars from Taiwan, North America and elsewhere.” — Josephine Chiu-Duke, Pacific Affairs

Writing Taiwan speaks to the legacy of Taiwan literature, including its volatility, conflicting impulses and cornucopia of ideologies and literary innovations. The integrity of the volume and the individual essays reflects the achievement of ideals that are scholarly, technical, and intellectual, together with a welcome editorial decision not to sacrifice excellence for the sake of a speedy production. . . . I highly recommend this outstanding contribution to any reader who wishes to understand more about Taiwan, its cultural complexity, vibrant history and the intrinsic merit of its intellectual tradition.” — Rosemary Haddon, New Zealand Journal of Asian Studies

“[An] excellent book. . . . this is a conference volume, but either because conference planners were careful in extending invitations and assigning topics or because editors Wang and Rojas did masterful work in sorting and sifting submissions, Writing Taiwan succeeds in mustering disparate voices to address the central topic of the way in which Taiwan has been narrated into existence.” — Thomas Morgan, Chinese Literature

“The volume, in fact, works wonderfully as a useful guide for literary scholars, pointing to accessible pathways to a very rich field for research and provocatively reconfiguring the current shape of Chinese literary studies. Anyone who is interested in transnational literary studies, particularly in relation to Asian literature and literatures in Chinese, will find something in this volume to help construct new theoretical and referential frameworks for his or her research.” — Kuei-Fen Chiu, Journal of Asian Studies

“These studies are about as objective as can be found in a field of study in which scholarly attitude and political motivation are often difficult to separate . . . Recommended.” — J. W. Walls, Choice

“This volume is, by design, a tribute to the richness and diversity of Taiwan’s literary achievement . . . . This volume broaches new ways of looking at Taiwan literature, transcending some concerns of its own time, but more generally reflecting them.” — Jeffrey C. Kinkley, China Review

“This is an original project, difficult to achieve, that updates scholarship on the literature of Taiwan. Its originality is strong and welcome.” — Edward Gunn, author of Rewriting Chinese: Style and Innovation in Twentieth-Century Chinese Prose


Availability: In stock
Price: $30.95

Open Access

Author/Editor Bios Back to Top

David Der-wei Wang is Edward C. Henderson Professor of Chinese Literature at Harvard University. He is the author of numerous books, including The Monster That Is History: History, Violence, and Fictional Writing in Twentieth-Century China.

Carlos Rojas is Assistant Professor of Modern Chinese Literature and Film at the University of Florida.

Table of Contents Back to Top
Preface / David Der-wei Wang vii

Introduction / Carlos Rojas 1

Part One: The Limits of Taiwan Literature

1. Representing Taiwan: Shifting Geopolitical Frameworks / Sung-sheng Yvonne Chang 17

2. Postmodern or Postcolonial? An Inquiry into Postwar Taiwanese Literary History / Fangming Chen 26

3. On the Concept of Taiwan Literature / Xiaobing Tang 51

Part Two: Cultural Politics

4. The Importance of Being Perverse: China and Taiwan, 1931–1937 / Joyce C. H. Liu 93

5. “On Our Destitute Dinner Table”: Modern Poetry Quarterly in the 1950s / Michelle Yeh 113

6. The Literary Development of Zhong Lihe and Postcolonial Discourse in Taiwan / Fenghuang Ying 140

7. Wang Wenxing’s Backed against the Sea, Parts I and II: The Meaning of Modernism in Taiwan’s Contemporary Literature / Sung-sheng Yvonne Chang 156

Part Three: History, Truth, and Textual Artifice

8. The Monster That Is History: Jiang Gui’s A Tale of Modern Monsters / David Der-wei Wang 181

9. Taiwanese Identity and the Crisis of Memory: Post-Chiang Mystery / Yomi Braester 213

10. Doubled Configuration: Reading Su Weizhen’s Theatricality / Gang Gary Xu 233

11. Techniques behind Lies and the Artistry of Truth: Writing about the Writings of Zhang Dachun / Kim-chu Ng 253

Part Four: Spectral Topographies and Circuits of Desire

12. Travel in Early-Twentieth-Century Asia: On Wu Zhuoliu’s “Nanking Journals” and His Notion of Taiwan’s Alternative Modernity / Ping-hui Liao 285

13. Mapping Identity in a Postcolonial City: Intertextuality and Cultural Hybridity in Zhu Tianxin’s Ancient Capital / Lingchei Letty Chen 301

14. Li Yongping and Spectral Cartography / Carlos Rojas 324

15. History, Exchange, and the Object Voice: Reading Li Ang’s The Strange Garden and All Sticks Are Welcome in the Censer of Beigang / Chaoyang Liao 348

16. Reenchanting the Image in Global Culture: Reification and Nostalgia in Zhu Tianwen’s Fiction / Ban Wang 370

Appendix: Chinese Characters for Authors’ Names and Titles of Works 389

Contributors 395

Index 397
Sales/Territorial Rights: World

Rights and licensing
Additional InformationBack to Top
Paper ISBN: 978-0-8223-3867-3 / Cloth ISBN: 978-0-8223-3851-2
Publicity material