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Blurring the lines : postmodernism and the use of tradition in the works of Yu Hua Moen, Martin Olav 1993

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BLURRING THE LINES — POSTMODERNISM AND THE USEOF TRADITION IN THE WORKS OF YU HUAbyMARTIN OLAV MOENB.A., The University of Alberta, 1991A THESIS SUBMITTED IN PARTIAL FULFILLMENT OF THEREQUIREMENTS FOR THE DEGREE OF MASTER OF ARTSinTHE FACULTY OF GRADUATE STUDIES(Department of Asian Studies)We accept this thesis as conforming to therequired stand. dIVERSITY OF BRITISH COLUMBIAApril 1993© Martin Olav Moen, 1993In presenting this thesis in partial fulfilment of the requirements for an advanceddegree at the University of British Columbia, I agree that the Library shall make itfreely available for reference and study. I further agree that permission for extensivecopying of this thesis for scholarly purposes may be granted by the head of mydepartment or by his or her representatives. It is understood that copying orpublication of this thesis for financial gain shall not be allowed without my writtenpermission.(SignatureDepartment of^ o0,, 5-4 t-toiThe University of British ColumbiaVancouver, CanadaDate /D\ DE-6 (2/88)IIAbstractThe modern Chinese writer Yu Hua (1960-) uses and incorporates a wide variety ofarguably postmodernist techniques and themes in his fiction. There are, however, parallelsbetween these themes and techniques and various aspects of pre-modern Chinese literatureand philosophy. Additionally, in an at times postmodernist manner, Yu Hua makesobvious use of mutated traditional Chinese literary forms in a number of his works. Hisincorporation of postmodernist themes and techniques and his use of tradition distinguishYu Hua from the mainstream of contemporary Chinese fiction and characterize his mostimportant works to date.In an examination of four of his stories, "Leaving Home and Travelling Afar atEighteen" [Shiba sui chu men yuan xing], "The April Third Incident" [Siyue sanri shijian],"1986" [1986 nian], and "One Kind of Reality" [Xianshi yizhong], a number of themes,many of which are characteristically postmodernist, are identified. The prominent themesamong these are that the individual is alone in this world, there are many different modes ofperception, humans are often cruel and vicious, and the world is a bizarre and bewilderingplace.Following this, the focus shifts to stylistic techniques. Yu Hua's use of differentmodes of perception and description, magic realism, novel and incongruous metaphors,and ambiguous and contradictory narratives is examined in detail. Finally, 'The Affairs ofthe World Are Like Smoke" [Shishi ru yan], "Fresh Blood Plum Blossoms" [Xianxuemeihua], and "Classical Love" [Gudian aiqing] are examined with particular attention paidto the parodic reincorporation of genres of pre-modern Chinese fiction in these stories.Parallels are then drawn between aspects of Chinese tradition, in particular Buddhist andDaoist thought, and certain postmodernist themes and techniques.TABLE OF CONTENTSAbstractTable of ContentsChapter One^ 1Introduction 1Postmodernism — definition and discussion^ 2Postmodernism in a Chinese context^ 7Some political implications of postmodernism^ 8Some thoughts on the artificiality of the concept of postmodernist literature 9Postmodernism in the works of Yu Hua^ 10Themes — alienation^ 10The alienating world of "Leaving Home and Travelling Afar at Eighteen"^11Alienation and perception in "The April Third Incident"^15The present ignores the past — madness and violence in "1986"^21Senseless violence in a nightmare world— "One Kind of Reality"^29Postmodernist themes — a summing up^ 37Chapter Two^ 39Style and technique — postmodernist ramifications^39"The Affairs of the World Are Like Smoke" — blurring the lines^41Seeing anew — novel modes of perception in "The Affairs of theWorld Are Like Smoke"^ 49Modes of description and perception^ 51Language and metaphor — breaking past the commonplace^59Narrative contradiction in "This Story is Dedicated to the YoungWoman Yang Liu"^ 63ivChapter 3 67Yu Hua and the use of tradition 67Twentieth Century Chinese literature and antitraditionalism 67Tradition in postmodemist literature 69"The Affairs of the World Are Like Smoke" — reincorporation beyondthe framework 70"Fresh Blood Plum Blossoms" — turning a genre on its head 75"Classical Love" — a modem chuanqi 83Further Enrichment and parallels 89Postmodemist ideas about reality and perception and their Buddhist parallels 91Conclusion 96Glossary for Chapter 1 98,Glossary for Chapter 2 100Glossary for Chapter 3 102A Chronological Bibliography of Yu Hua's Fictional Works 105General Bibliography 109Chapter OneIntroductionIn recent years, a new and quite different crop of writers has emerged in thePeople's Republic of China. In the late eighties, a young writer named Yu Hua, along withothers such as Su Tong, Ge Fei, and Ye Zhaoyan, began writing literature that was oftenradically different from the bulk of fiction published in China since 1976. He abandonedthe mainstream of socially concerned realism and experimented with a wide variety ofsubject matter and descriptive techniques, turning to Chinese tradition and foreign modelsas a source for new ideas and different modes of expression. Yu Hua's weaving togetherof dreams, the fantastic, and the possible is, in fact, far more reminiscent of GiinterGrass's The Tin Drum or Gabriel Garcia Marquez's 100 Years of Solitude than it is of thestolid realism of other post-Mao Chinese writers such as Zhang Xianliang and Wang Anyi.However, Yu Hua rarely engages in the experimental, surrealist writing that is the hallmarkof writers such as Can Xue.Yu Hua is too young to have adult memories of the Cultural Revolution (1966-1976) and, unlike others only a few years older than him, was not shaped by theexperience of being sent away from his home to the remote countryside during this period.He was born in 1960 in a seaside town called Haiyan, located about halfway betweenShanghai and Hangzhou. His parents were doctors, and he himself worked as a dentist fora while. He published his first story in 1984, but it was not until he published "LeavingHome and Travelling Afar at Eighteen" [Shiba sui chu men yuan xing] in 1987 that hebegan to receive much attention. Since then, he has published a number of stories ofvarying lengths in literary journals and has had one collection of his stories published onthe Mainland and two collections published in Taiwan.12Yu Hua's stories incorporate a wide variety of styles and influences, ranging fromtraditional Chinese tales of the fantastic to Franz Kafka. The combination of bizarre modesof description, black humour, extreme violence, the questioning of the dividing linebetween reality and fantasy, and the rejection of realist principles combined with theparodic use of elements of Chinese tradition can perhaps best be examined within thegeneral framework of postmodernism.Before attempting to show that any of Yu Hua's works are postmodernist, it is firstnecessary to provide a working definition of this rather nebulous term, to come to a basicunderstanding of how and where postmodernist literature fits in in a Chinese context, andto examine some of the implications of being a postmodernist writer in contemporaryChina.Postmodernism — definition and discussionIn his A Glossary of Literary Terms, M. H. Abrams writes that, "A familiarundertaking in postmodernist writings is to subvert our accepted modes of thought andexperience so as to reveal the 'meaninglessness' of existence and the underlying 'abyss', or'void', or 'nothingness' on which our supposed security is precariously suspended."1 Ashe sees it, modernism was an anti-traditionalist reaction to the First World War, andpostmodernism was simply modernism pushed to further extremes by the atrocities of theSecond World War and much of what followed. One can also see postmodernism as areaction to technological breakthroughs in communication and transportation that have, onthe one hand, pulled the world together while, on the other hand, allowing access to anarray of information so large as to be bewildering.1 M. H. Abrams, A Glossary of Literary Terms (Holt, Rinehart and Winston, 1988), p.110.3After reading works by some postmoodernist authors (Jorge Luis Borges, SalmanRushdie, Giinter Grass, etc.) and delving into some of the critical writings onpostrnodemist literature (in particular, Linda Hutcheon's A Poetics of Postmodernism ),one can generate a short list of important aspects common to most postmodemist literature:the representation of the world as an often bewildering and vicious place, the underminingof epistemological, ethical, and metaphysical foundations (especially by blurring theboundaries between real and unreal and good and evil) coupled with self-consciousexplorations into the nature of perspective, and intertextuality and the parodic re-incorporation of elements from tradition.With regards to views of perspective in postmodemist literature, Linda Hutcheonwrites that, "Another consequence of this far-reaching inquiry into the very nature ofsubjectivity is the frequent challenge to traditional notions of perspective... The perceivingsubject is no longer assumed to be a coherent, meaning-generating entity."2 Thepostmodemist writer often attempts to show that what we see as being logical or commonsense ways of viewing the world are nothing more than constructs, potentially useful butalso potentially misleading and even dangerous. In the context of postmodernist literature,words such as "good" and "real" become remarkably ambiguous.Admittedly, all this is not a new phenomenon in philosophy (e.g., idealism),religion (e.g., Buddhism and notions of the physical world as illusion) or even in literature,for that matter. This kind of questioning of perspective is also an important part of manymodernist works, and the question of what is right and what is wrong has been a part ofliterature since earliest times. However, it should be emphasized that in postmodernistworks, unlike most earlier literature, it is not the location of the dividing line between goodand evil or real and unreal that is being contested but, rather, its very existence. Perhaps,2 Linda Hutcheon, A Poetics of Postmodernism — History, Theory, Fiction(Routledge,1988), p. 11.4less dramatically, one could say that postmodernist writers tend to emphasize theartificiality and arbitrariness of such concepts. Modernism does share this outlook, and, inthis regard, the difference between modernism and postmodernism is often more a matterof degree than anything else. Where postmodernism perhaps differs most from modernismand other kinds of writing is in its use of and relation to history and literary tradition.Linda Hutcheon writes that, "... most of these postmodern contradictory texts arealso specifically parodic in their intertextual relation to the traditions and conventions of thegenres involved. When Eliot recalled Dante or Virgil in The Wasteland, one sensed a kindof wishful call to continuity beneath the fragmented echoing. It is precisely this that iscontested in postmodern parody where it is often ironic discontinuity that is revealed at theheart of continuity, difference at the heart of similarity."3 It should be noted that what shemeans here by parody is different from the traditional definition of it as a form of burlesquehumour. Parody in her sense is far more than mockery.4 She redefines parody as,"repetition with critical distance that allows ironic signalling of difference at the very heartof similarity.., this parody paradoxically enacts both change and cultural continuity...".5Perhaps the best way to illustrate what is meant by the parodic re-incorporation ofelements of tradition is to, as Hutcheon does, look at postmodernist architecture. A good,concrete example of this kind of architecture is Cathedral Place, an office tower locateddirectly across from the Hotel Vancouver in downtown Vancouver. The Hotel Vancouveris a classic example of what might be called the Canadian railway hotel style. It is sort of amock chateau complete with patinaed copper roofing. Cathedral Place is capped with alarge green copper "hat" that does not function as a roof and really serves no utilitarianpurpose. Thus, the architect of Cathedral Place pokes fun at the designers of the earlier3 Linda Hutcheon, A Theory of Parody: The Teachings of Twentieth Century Art Forms(Methuen, 1985) cited in Ibid, p. 11.4 Hutcheon (1988), p. 34.5 Ibid., p. 26.5building while evoking the same tradition they did, paradoxically ridiculing and payinghomage at the same time.The treatment of history in postmodernist literature is often similarly paradoxical.Postmodernist writers often mix real people or elements of historical "fact" into theirfictional works. In one sense, by doing so they are showing that there is nothing sacredabout history and are bringing attention to their belief that it is a highly artificial construct.However, the very fact that they choose to refer to history at all shows that they have notrejected it as totally meaningless and insignificant.As a result of both the perceived paradoxes of life in the modern world (forexample, as technological development increases the ease of communication andtransportation, we become more aware of difference and of difficulties in communicating)and in an attempt to heighten the feeling that the world is stranger and less ordered thancommon sense would have us believe, postmodernist authors often deal with the topic ofalienation. This subject is common in both modernism and postmodernism and takes manyforms. In one sense, dealing with alienation is part of an attempt to show how trulystrange human society and the world in general can seem from a particular, oftenmarginalized, viewpoint (for example, the outsider in Franz KafIca's modernist novel TheCastle or the physical oddity in Giinter Grass's postmodernist novel The Tin Drum). Inanother sense, alienated protagonists are often used as part of an effort to shock readers outof fixed ideas about the world by showing it in a radically different way. Alienation canalso take the form of alienation between people and become part of an expression about abelief in the superficiality of communication in modern society and the inevitable alonenessof the individual.The differences between postmodernist alienation and modernist alienation are,once again, more a matter of degree than anything else. However, in addition to the waythat postmodernism deals with history and literary tradition, it also differs from modernismin other important respects. Referring to a book by Andreas Huyssen, Linda Hutcheon6points out that, "Postmodernism challenges some aspects of modernist dogma: its view ofthe autonomy of art and its deliberate separation from life; its expression of individualsubjectivity; its adversarial status vis-à-vis mass culture and bourgeois life."6 Nonetheless,she also writes that, "...the postmodern clearly also developed out of other moderniststrategies: its self-reflexive experimentation, its ironic ambiguities, and its contestations ofclassic realist representation."7Finally, it should be clearly stated that in the area of literature (as opposed to literarycriticism) postmodernism is neither an ideology nor a clearly defined movement in thesense that naturalism was. Consequently, any attempt to define it is bound to be difficultand be limited more to lists of characteristics common to those works consideredpostmodernist than to actual statements of principles. The word "postmodernist" is alsoused to describe all kinds of things other than literature, including visual art,historiography, architecture, and philosophy and it is not always clear that what is meant bythis word in one sphere of discussion is the same as in another. To a certain degree thisstems from a lack of imagination on the part of critics; new words should have beencoined. The word itself also seems to imply some kind of "hyper-newness," but the realityis that many of the elements of postmodernist literature are not at all new. I would like tostress that in the context of this discussion the meaning of this word will be limited to thatof a term describing aspects common to a certain group of writers and not necessarilyanything else.Additionally, it should also be stressed that literary movements do not proceed inorderly linear succession. Postmodernism did not completely replace realism ormodernism and there are no clearly defined dates for the first appearance of postmodernistliterature.6 Andreas Huyssen, After the Great Divide: Modernism, Mass Culture, Postmodernism(Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1986) cited in Hutcheon (1988), p. 43.7 Linda Hutcheon (1988), p. 43.7Postmodernism in a Chinese contextIn a Chinese context, for writers of Yu Hua's generation, the insanity of theCultural Revolution as well as the upheavals and political campaigns that have followed hasprovided much of the impetus for postmodernist literature. The increasingly inconsistentnature of indoctrination and political control in China since the death of Mao Zedong has nodoubt also had some influence on these writers. The same people who are reading Robbe-Grillet and quoting Roland Barthes are still, on occasion, supposed to find ridiculous, one-dimensional socialist heroes such as Lei Feng inspiring.8In a literary historical context, if one takes a certain significant minority of Chineseliterature of the late 1970s and early 1980s to be the analogue to post-World War IEuropean modernism in the sense that it was a reaction to horrific events (the Anti-RightistCampaign, the Great Leap Forward, and the Cultural Revolution) and a radical break fromthe literature immediately preceding it (formulaic socialist realism), then one can see thenewest wave of writers such as Yu Hua, Su Tong, Ge Fei, and others as in some sensesanalogous to Western postmodernist writers in that they have also gone further andsubverted and rejected many of the of the conventions of works that preceded them andbroke ground for them. It should be stressed that in both China and the West, this newliterature is far from prevalent. The vast majority of writers in China still write eithersocially concerned realism or escapist fiction. In the West, postmodernist writers havereceived much attention in critical circles and do form a more substantial part of thecontemporary literary scene than writers such as Yu Hua do in China, but the vast majority8 The mythologized account of this selfless and unquestioning People's Liberation Armysoldier who had dedicated his life to helping others in the name of socialism was firstused for propaganda purposes in the early '60s. After 1976, he slowly faded from viewonly to be briefly resurrected following the events of 1989. In early 1991, I visited theLei Feng exhibition at the Military Museum in Beijing. It was truly bizarre. A largeexhibition hall was filled with items that he had supposedly used during his lifetime —everything from hammers to lunch boxes, and all in pristine condition.8of fiction published in the West is not at all postmodernist. It must be admitted, however,that this analogy is limited in several important ways. Unlike the modernists after the endof the First World War, after the end of the Cultural Revolution, Chinese writers initiallylooked back for models and did not break as fully from the style that was predominantbefore them. Furthermore, Yu Hua's generation of writers were not the first to break awayfrom the realist literature of social concern.However, it is not necessary to resort to analogies to justify using a Western term todescribe Chinese writings. An important fact that should not be ignored is thatcontemporary Chinese writers are not isolated from world literary trends. Modernist andpostmodernist writers and theorists have been translated into Chinese and published in thePeople's Republic, and writers such as Yu Hua are very much aware of Western literarytraditions. In an article mostly devoted to a discussion of his own literary style andattitudes towards reality, Yu Hua refers to Proust, Balzac, Dickens, Joyce, Kafka,Faulkner, Robbe-Grillet, and Kawabata and sees himself as being a part of a world literarytradition.9Some political implications of postmodernismCertain implications of postmodernism become particularly important in a Chinesecontext. For example, Linda Hutcheon notes that postmodernism,...exploits, but also undermines, such staples of our humanisttradition as the coherent subject and the accessible historical referent,and this may well be what is so irritating about it for Eagleton andJameson. The contested concepts of artistic originality and9 Yu Hua, "Xuwei de zuopin" ("False" works) in Yu Hua, Shishi ru yan (The affairs ofthe world are like smoke) (Taibei: Yuanliu chuban gongsi, 1991), pp. 8, 13.9"authenticity" and of any stable historical entity (such as "the worker")would appear to be central to their Marxist master narrative. Thepostmodern blurring of firm distinctions is probably, by definition,anathema to Marxist dialectical reasoning.. 10Postmodernism also implies a rejection of the orthodox modern Chinese literary form ofsocially concerned realism. This, in combination with its implied denial of the validity ofabsolutes (such as the party line at any given moment), makes writing postmodernistliterature a potentially very political thing to do in contemporary China. Furthermore, YuHua's darkly pessimistic view of humanity cuts across class lines and leaves little room forthe unified utopianism of Marxism.Despite this, however, writers such as Su Tong and Yu Hua have managed to writeand publish basically without interruption since the mid-eighties without ever even beingseriously criticized by the authorities. Most of the attention of the government seems to beon overtly political writings and not on less obvious and more difficult to understand"pure" literature.Some Thoughts on the Artificiality of the Concept of Postmodernist Literature To a very large extent the concept of postmodernist literature is an artificial one.But, isn't this true with most, if not all, classification schemes for literature? Some, suchas "realism", do have a basis in a conscious literary movement. However, in these cases,often the main thing that makes a certain author belong to a certain school is that this authorclaims to. Furthermore, the usefulness of any grouping is generally limited by theinevitable variety within any group. Are there not great differences between Henry Jamesand Fyodor Dostoyevsky? It really depends on what aspect of their writing is beingexamined. One problem with the concept of postmodernist literature is that it is very broad10 Hutcheon (1988), p. 46.10and includes both style and theme. Realism, on the other hand, usually refers to a stylisticmode.It really comes down to a question of utility. We apply artificial groupings toliterature much in the way that we apply such groupings to objects. That's a chair; that's acouch; that's a horse; that's a white horse. Invariably, all such classifications are external.They are there simply to facilitate communication. Showing that Yu Hua or anyone else ispostmodernist is not, in itself, of much interest. It is what is done along the way thatcounts.Postmodernism in the works of Yu HuaIn discussing postmodemist elements in Yu Hua's works, no attempt will be madeto show that all of his works are postmodernist nor will there be any attempt to show thatany given work has all of the previously mentioned characteristics of postmodernism.Rather, postmodernism will be used as a framework for discussion and analysis of some ofYu Hua's more important works. First, postmodernist themes will be identified anddiscussed and then the focus will switch to an analysis of style. Finally, Yu Hua's use ofand relation to tradition will be discussed.Themes — alienationThe portrayal of alienation is very common in postmodemist literary works.Alienation certainly appears in the works of Yu Hua and it appears in many forms. TheRandom House Dictionary of the English Language (Second Edition) defines alienation tobe, "the state of being withdrawn or isolated from the objective world, as throughindifference or disaffection," alienate as, "to make indifferent or hostile," and alien as, "aperson who has been estranged or excluded." Alien also means strange or foreign and wecan take alienation to be the process of estrangement.11The description of this manifests itself in Yu Hua's works in different ways. Histreatments of alienation can be divided into two main categories: the interpersonal and thepersonal. There are many ways in which he deals with personal alienation. In oneapproach, which is seen in his story "Leaving Home and Travelling Afar at Eighteen"[Shiba sui chu men yuan xing] the emphasis is on describing an alienating, strange worldof randomness, violence, and cruelty that a solitary individual faces. In another approachused in "The April Third Incident" [Siyue sanri shijian], the emphasis shifts to thepsychology of an individual facing a world perceived to be as it is described in the firstapproach. In a variation on this dealt with in "1986" [1986 than], the emphasis remainslargely on the psychology of an individual, but, in this case, the individual is clearly beingexcluded or ignored by society. In other stories, interpersonal alienation, the alienation ofpeople from each other in society, is described. In "One Kind of Reality" [Xianshiyizhong] the description focuses on a bizarre world filled with senseless violence in whichinterpersonal alienation is so great that feelings of sympathy, empathy, or even theconsciousness of others as thinking, feeling beings are almost totally lacking. Of thestories that will be dealt with in this section, this one, "One Kind of Reality," most closelyfits the description of postmodernist literature given earlier. However, all of these storieshave postmodernist elements.Most of Yu Hua's examinations of these kinds of alienation are closely tied in withdescriptions of the world as violent, vicious, and meaningless. Furthermore, theperspedtives of the alienated individuals in his stories are often quite unusual, and thisserves both to replicate the characters' alienation in the reader and as part of a typicalpostmodernist questioning of modes of perception.The alienating world of "Leaving_ Home and Travelling Afar at Eighteen""Leaving Home and Travelling Afar at Eighteen" is a good example of the firstcategory of personal alienation, wherein the focus is on the alienating world faced by an12individual. In this short story published in early 1987, the narrator, a young man who hasjust turned eighteen, is told by his father to leave home in order to, "go and get to know alittle about the outside world."11 He walks a great distance into the mountains and, as theday grows longer, begins to worry about finding a hotel in this isolated area. He tries tohitchhike, but only one car passes by and it does not stop. Finally, he manages to forcehimself on a truckdriver and get a ride.At first, the driver is annoyed by this youth, but eventually starts to become morefriendly towards him. After driving for a while, the truck breaks down and is beset bywaves of marauding peasants who steal the load of apples on the back of the truck, beat thenarrator to a pulp when he tries to stop them, and then strip the truck bare before leaving.During this time, the driver just looks on from the sidelines and laughs at the narrator'sinjuries. Finally, the truckdriver leaves with some of the peasants. The narrator is left allalone with the cold skeleton of the truck. He crawls back into the cab of the truck to hidefrom the wind that is howling outside. He then thinks back to when he left home, and thestory ends.As is clear from this summary, the world of this story is bizarre indeed. This senseof strangeness is heightened by the inexplicable, random nature of what happens and thesimple, matter of fact way in which the narrator describes events. For example, when thepeasants converge on the truck, no thought is given to their motivation and, aside from asingle question about what the truck is carrying, they say nothing. The peasants are veryanimal-like, even insect-like. They are described as, "coming in swarms," [p.26] and as,"squatting like toads while they picked up the apples." [p. 26] Furthermore, at times, thenarrator's description of the violence that he suffers at their hands is surprisingly matter offact. For example, "a few children threw apples at me. The apples smashed against my11 Yu Hua, "Shiba sui chu men yuan xing" (Leaving home and travelling afar at eighteen)in Shiba sui chu men yuan xing (Taibei: Yuanliu chuban gongsi, 1990), p. 29. Untilthe next footnote, all page numbers given in the text will refer to this source.13head but my head was not smashed." [p. 26] He is totally helpless in the face of thepeasants and all his efforts at stopping them are utterly ineffectual.Despite being surrounded by peasants and being quite close to his newfoundsupposed friend, the truckdriver, the narrator is helpless and alone. This sense ofaloneness and helplessness in the face of the cruel world is underscored in the scene thatfollows in which he compares himself to the remnants of the truck:The truck's appearance was truly miserable; it was lying there coveredwith wounds. I knew that I was also covered with wounds.The sky had become totally black. In all directions there was nothingat all, only the wounded truck and the wounded me. I looked at thetruck with boundless grief and the truck looked at me with boundlessgrief too. I stretched out my hand and stroked it. Its whole body wasice cold. Then the wind started up. It was blowing very hard and thesound of tree leaves in the mountains was like waves by the sea. Thissound made me afraid, made my whole body ice cold just like thetruck's. [p. 28]He, like the truck, has been ravaged by the world and then abandoned. In thislonely world his only companion is a cold, inanimate object.One can see this story, in a more general sense, as being a representation of comingof age and entering the cruel world. While there is nothing inherently postmodernist insuch a theme, it is not inconsistent with postmodernism. In the first paragraph, theprotagonist clearly identifies himself as being eighteen years old and much is made of hisfirst facial hairs. [p. 19] Near the very end of the story, he thinks back to the time when hewas sent out into the world and about what his father told him then: "Yes, you're alreadyeighteen. You ought to go and get to know a little about the outside world." [p. 29] Thesereferences frame the story and set it in context.14In addition, the apples could be seen as having the standard Western symbolicvalues of temptation, loss of innocence, and knowledge of evil. The narrator makes it clearthat the truck is loaded with apples and not bananas [p. 21] and although he wants to eatone, he never gets a chance to. In this sense, he remains innocent.In the course of the story, the protagonist is faced with rejection and violence in hissearch to find an inn to spend the night. The protagonist sees the inn as safety, almost likea surrogate home. When he finally manages to force himself on the trucicdriver and isriding in the safety of the truck and talking to his new "friend," his worry about the innsubsides. However, as soon as the truck breaks down and the driver finds it cannot befixed, the narrator's desire for an inn becomes acute. Yu Hua employs some fancifulimagery to illustrate this, "And so, once again, the inn came into my mind and graduallyexpanded. Soon it filled up my head and then my head was no more. In its place an innhad sprouted up." [p. 24] Finally, he finds refuge in the cab of the wrecked truck andthinks, "...its heart is still whole, still warm. I know my heart is also warm. All alongI've been looking for an inn. I never thought you'd be right here." [pp. 28, 29] As hasalready been shown, the protagonist is closely identified with the truck. His suffering andaloneness is paralleled by its. In the end he finds refuge in the warmth of its heart. In theend, the only warmth that is left is his own.In this, one of Yu Hua's first stories to gain wide recognition, many of the aspectsof the alienating world that will reappear in his later works have already surfaced. There isgreat violence, and it is sudden, unexpected, and random. This violence and other bizarrethings are also described in a generally detached, matter of fact manner. In a storypublished later in the same year, "The April Third Incident," Yu Hua continues to describeboth alienation and coming of age. However, unlike in "Leaving Home and TravellingAfar at Eighteen," the emphasis in this story is less on the alienating world and more onperception and the flowing together of fears, dreams and imagined happenings in the mindof a person whose paranoia alienates him from the world.15Alienation and perception in "The April Third Incident""The April Third Incident," a mid-length short story first published in late 1987,describes a few days in the life of a young man who has recently graduated from highschool and is just turning eighteen. The story, told by an uninvolved third person narrator,deals exclusively with this one protagonist and allows access only to his thoughts. Itfollows him as he wanders about the dark alleyways of his hometown, visits friends fromschool, and becomes increasingly convinced that almost everyone is plotting against him.He sees people laughing and he is convinced that they are laughing about him. He seespeople talking and he is convinced that they are talking about him. He sees hints andthreats in people's eyes and finds every action to be suspicious Soon his paranoidimaginings and dreams fill his life. He overhears his neighbour asking his mother if she isready. Later, he overhears his father and, at a different time, his mother talking aboutsomething which will happen on April Third (which, interestingly enough, just happens tobe Yu Hua's birthday). Slowly he becomes convinced that they are plotting to kill him. Inhis mind he concocts two scenarios: his friends will burst into his room early in themorning, drag him outside and force him out onto the road to be struck by an oncoming caror, if this fails, his father will lure him near a construction site where he will be killed by afalling brick.On April Second, he visits his friend, White Snow, and, in the course of theirconversation, she hints that the next day something interesting will happen. She seemsquite happy about this and it seems probable that it will be a surprise birthday party orsomething of that sort. The protagonist has, after all, just turned eighteen and has yet tohave a real party. He, however, thinks back to how earlier, on separate occasions, heoverheard his mother and father mentioning this date and becomes convinced that on thatday they will carry out a plot to kill him. He is so afraid that he hides until late at night andthen leaves town by sneaking onto a freight car on a coal train that is passing through.16Thus, as Zhang Yiwu points out, regardless of whether or not there originally was going tobe an "incident," his leaving has, in fact, ironically become the incident. 12In an article on perception and reality in Yu Hua's fiction, Zhang Fu, points to theprotagonist's creation of what she calls "a second kind of reality" as perhaps the mostimportant aspect of this story.13 She pays particular attention to a short passage at thebeginning of "The April Third Incident" where the protagonist and the world of hisperceptions are first introduced. In this passage, Yu Hua uses the technique of describingthe familiar in unusual, even shocking, terms (what could be called "naive description," inthe sense that it deals with the commonplace as if it were unknown or new) to mirror hisprotagonist's different mode of perception. For example, using this method of descriptionone might describe a toothbrush as a stick with a strange white growth at one end. Thefirst passage to use this technique begins with a brief description of the main characterstanding by the window in the morning and then moves on to describe his thoughts andfeelings:He could only feel that there was a hot yellowness outside thewindow. "That's sunlight," he thought to himself. Afterwards, heput his hand into his pocket and, unexpectedly, it was filled with acold, metallic feeling. His heart fluttered and his hand started to shakeever so slightly. He was amazed at his agitation. However, when hisfingers slowly stretched out along the edges of the metal, that kind ofstrange feeling did not grow but, rather, stabilized. Then his hand alsoquickly settled down. Gradually, it started to warm up — warm likelips. But, not long afterwards, this warmth disappeared. At that point,12 Zhang Yiwu, " `Ren' de weiji" (The crisis of "man" — reading Yu Hua's fiction),Dushu,1988, no. 12, p. 44.13 Zhang Fu, "Xianshi yizhong — pinglun Yu Hua xiaoshuo" (One kind of reality — areview of Yu Hua's fiction), Dangdai zuojia pinglun,1991, no. 2, pp. 40— 42.17he felt that it had fused with his hand and, as a result, it was as if therewas nothing there at all. Its moving splendour was already a thing ofthe past.It was a key...14By showing the protagonist's very different perception of the everyday act of reaching intoone's pocket and coming across a key and by describing the strange overblown emotionsthat he has about this, both the protagonist's "second kind of reality" and his high-strung,fearful nature are introduced.Other unusual ways of looking at familiar things appear throughout the story. Thisaspect of his perception is more a case of focus than of actually seeing something entirelydifferent from what others would see. Perception is, after all, primarily a matter of focus.What information is filtered out, what information is focussed on, and what mental linksare made with this information governs what is seen. The nameless protagonist of "TheApril Third Incident" focuses differently and the results are often unusual. For example,"He [the protagonist] watched her walking over pulling that black shadow along." [p. 153]Later, as he looks at reflections in a shop window, he sees a group of people as, "...anumber of legs moving... "[p. 160] He also often makes strange mental links. Forexample, midway through the story he notes that, "...the buttons on father's clothes werenot the same as those on mother's." [p. 173] Earlier, when he hears White Snow'sfootsteps, he feels that their sound is as emotionally moving as dripping water. [p. 171]His paranoia and his unusual mode of perception extends even to himself and, when helooks into a window and sees his reflection he feels that his own eyes are, " a pair ofsomeone else's eyes watching him." [p. 160]14 Yu Hua, "Siyue sanri shijian" (The April Third incident) in Yu Hua, Shiba sui chumen yuan zing (Leaving home and travelling afar at eighteen) (Beijing, Zuojiachubanshe, 1989), p. 141. Until the next footnote, all page numbers given in the textwill refer to this source.18Of course, stream of consciousness writers often do break standard realistconventions and describe the world in such ways in an attempt to more accurately mirrorthe jumbled way in which people process information. In "The April Third Incident,"however, the narrator's "normal," conventional mode of description clashes with theprotagonist's and highlights it as strange.Using the aforementioned method of description is one way in which theprotagonist's alternate reality can be shown and by which a degree of confusion, evenalienation, can be induced in the readers. However, although this kind of perception is apart of his reality, it does not, in itself, create most of the ambiguity and confusion in thestory. Most of the protagonist's fear of and consequent alienation from those around himis generated by his pervasive fantasies and dreams, and much of the ambiguity in this storyis created by the blurring of divisions between these and the "real" world.As the story progresses, the distinction between the first, commonplace reality andthe reality of the protagonist's imagination becomes increasingly indistinct. If his paranoidfantasy about his friends knocking on the door in the morning, charging in, and then takinghim out to be killed in a staged accident is followed as it develops, it can be seen how theseparation between different realities becomes more and more ambiguous as the storyprogresses. A reference to this knock on the door fantasy about one third of the waythrough the story is preceded by, "According to what he had imagined yesterdayevening..."[p. 157]. However, by the middle of the story, in the sixteenth section, a verydetailed account of his friends bursting into his room is presented with no mention ofimagining or dreaming. Only later, at the beginning of the eighteenth section, is it madeclear that, "...all that [the sixteenth section] had happened in a dream." [p. 184] When, inthe eighteenth section, some of his friends do indeed come to his house and persuade himto go out for a walk, despite the fact that there is nothing at all sinister or strange about theirbehaviour, the tendency is to believe that this is yet another one of his fantasies. Only later,19when it is referred to in another scene, does it seem like it probably happened. [pp.191,192]An interesting metafictional reference occurs in the scene in the eighteenth sectionwhen the protagonist's friends really do come to his house. While they are walking alongoutside, they begin a familiar circular story in which each person says one sentence. Itproceeds as follows:There once was a mountain.., on the mountain there was a temple... inthe temple there were two monks... one old monk and one young monk...theold monk said to the young monk: ... there once was a mountain.. .on themountain there was a temple.. .in the temple there were two monks... 15This is a clear reference to stories within stories and, in a sense, that is what the author'sfantasies of the protagonist's fantasies within fantasies is.The technique of describing a scene and then revealing that it was only a product ofthe protagonist's imagination is used so extensively that by the end of the story one comesto expect that everything will be followed be such a revelation and, as a result, ouruncertainty about what is real and what is not is nearly total. Even the final scene could, infact, just be a creation of the protagonist's imagination. Of course, as with all fiction, weknow that it is the creation of someone's imagination.The distance provided by the use of an uninvolved third person narrator is whatallows this story to be about the kind of alienation that it is about and to have thepostmodernist ambiguity and questioning of perception that it has. First, as has alreadybeen mentioned, the conventionality of this narrator's perceptions acts to set off theunusualness of the protagonist's. In the previously quoted passage dealing with the key,for example, the description of the protagonist's strange perceptions is followed by the15 Ibid., pp. 185, 186. Also see Ah Cheng, "Haizi wang"(The king of children) in Qiwang, shu wang, haizi wang (The king of chess, the king of trees, the king of children)(Taibei: Xindi chubanshe, 1986), pp. 166, 167 for the use of the same circular story.20narrator's matter of fact statement, "that was a key.. "•16 The use of a third person narratornot only allows for contrast to heighten the strangeness of the protagonist's mode ofperception, but also allows for the distance that is necessary to make this a story aboutparanoia and perception and not about hatred and viciousness. Had this story been toldusing first person narration, the lack of outside perspective would have made it difficult tosee "the second reality" as being anything other than the only reality. The third personnarrator that is actually used in this story is limited in such a way that ambiguity isproduced. We are never told what the others are really thinking or what is being plannedfor April Third, yet, at the same time, there is sufficient undercutting to seriously doubt thereasonableness of the protagonist's fears.The final way in which third person narration adds to the story is by creating a falsesense of security or certainty which can then be smashed. There is a tendency to believethird person uninvolved narrators to be more reliable than involved first person narrators.Furthermore, the tone of the narration in this story is such that the narrator does seem quitereliable. As a result, when an imagined episode is related in the third person narratorialvoice, as does happen in the story, and only afterwards is it revealed that " heimagined," the confusion and surprise is greater than had the entire story, including thisepisode, been related in the first person. This kind of trickery can, however, becometedious and quickly lose any capacity for surprise. Fortunately, the previously mentionedescalation of ambiguity avoids tedium.This story could, perhaps, also be seen as aldn to Lu Xun's "Diary of a Madman"[Kuangren riji], and the protagonist's paranoid perception of hatred and immanent violencecould be seen as a reflection of feelings that lurk below the surface in Chinese society.17Lu16 Yu Hua, "The April Third Incident," p. 141.17 Wang Binbin "Can Xue, Yu Hua: `zhende esheng?' — Can Xue, Yu Hua yu Lu Xunde yizhong bijiao" (Can Xue, Yu Hua: "the true voice of horror?" — one kind ofcomparison of Can Xue, Yu Hua, and Lu Xun), Dangdai zuojia pinglun, 1992, no. 121Xun's short story "Diary of a Madman," first published in 1918, was one of the seminalworks of modern Chinese literature. In this story, Lu Xun took the topos of theenlightened lunatic and used it to expose what he saw as the viciousness and crueltyinherent in Chinese culture. In both "Diary of a Madman" and "The April Third Incident"there are protagonists who seem to suffer from paranoid delusions. Lu Xun's madmanbelieves that those around him are cannibals who would very much like to eat him, whilethe protagonist of "The April Third Incident" believes that his friends and family areplotting to kill him. In "Diary of a Madman," however, the link between the delusions ofthe madman and external reality is made quite explicit. The madman sees the phrase "eatpeople" throughout the Chinese classics, and his horror is closely linked to this.18 As aresult, the reader cannot help but see the symbolic value of the madman's paranoia. Incontrast, "The April Third Incident" contains no such explicit link, and the validity of theprotagonist's fears is left quite ambiguous both in the context of the story's reality (do hisfriends really intend to kill him?) and in the context of possible symbolism. By writing astory about a paranoid man, Yu Hua inevitably evokes 'Diary of a Madman," and bymaking this familiar topos as ambiguous as he does, he creates a discontinuity between thisstory and his own "The April Third Incident." This is exactly what Linda Hutcheon refersto when she defines parody as, "repetition with critical distance that allows ironic signallingof difference at the very heart of similarity... ".19The present ignores the past — madness and violence in "1986"Yu Hua's story "1986" was, like the previously mentioned stories, also publishedin 1987. It too deals with alienation and the alienating world. The kind of alienationdeals with it in this manner, although Wang Binbin certainly sees Yu Hua's world viewas being different from Lu Xun's.18 Lu Xun, "Kuangren riji" (Diary of a Madman) in Lu Xun, Lu Xun quanji (Thecomplete works of Lu Xun) (Beijing, Renmin wenxue chubanshe, 1956),vol. 1, p. 12.19 Hutcheon (1988), p. 26.22depicted in this work is, however, somewhat different. First, it is the alienation ofexclusion and active marginalization by society. Secondly, it is a product of a specific andreal historical event, the Cultural Revolution, and it is set in the author's present, 1986.The return of family members lost or imprisoned during the horrors of the CulturalRevolution (or earlier political campaigns) and found or released in the years following thedeath of Mao Zedong and the end of the Cultural Revolution was an important and oftenvery difficult part of the lives of many people during this time. The social and personalproblems associated with this were depicted in many works of literature in the late '70s andearly '80s (for example, Shi Mo's "The Homecoming Stranger"),2° but, for Yu Hua,depicting modern social and political phenomena in such an obvious manner is entirelyatypical. "1986" is perhaps the only one of his stories to date that does so.This story follows the life of a high school teacher and his family during theCultural Revolution (1966 - 1976) and during the year 1986. At the height of the CulturalRevolution, this high school teacher is taken away from his young wife and his three yearold daughter by a group of Red Guards. He is not treated overly harshly when comparedto others during this period and is taken to a classroom in his school, where he is left towrite his obligatory confession. Later, he manages to escape and all trace is lost of him. Inthe years that follow, his wife receives no further information about him. She suspects thathe has died, but she really does not know. In any case, a few years later she remarries,and her life continues on, slowly becoming happier and happier. Her daughter comes tofully accept her stepfather, and her real father is soon forgotten.Years later, in the Spring of 1986, haggard and crazed, the schoolteacher returns tohis home town and wanders the streets. At the same time, his wife becomes filled with aninexplicable dread and often imagines that she hears his footsteps and his cries. She20 Shi Mo (Zhao Zhenlcai), "Homecoming Stranger" translated by Susette Cooke inMichael S. Duke, ed., Contemporary Chinese Literature —An Anthology of Post-MaoFiction and Poetry (M. E. Sharpe, 1985). It originally appeared in Jintian, no.1, 1979.23becomes so overcome with fear that she does not venture outside or even draw the blinds.Her husband forbids her daughter to go out unless absolutely necessary. Even so, herdaughter does manage to see her crazed father more than once in the course of the story, yetnever recognizes him. While wandering about the town, her father first fantasizes aboutinflicting traditional Chinese methods of punishment on others and then actually performsthem on himself. Both the reality and his fantasies are described in shocking detail. Hemoves from branding (mo), to the removal of the nose (yi), to removal of the feet (fei), tocastration (gong), to death by slicing (lingchi). He knows about these punishments fromhis previous studies of classical Chinese punishment and execution methods, and beforeeach punishment he shouts out its traditional name.Throughout his wanderings and self-mutilation, he is generally ignored by thetownspeople except during his most gruesome mutilations. Then, great crowds brieflygather to watch, only to disappear as soon as he finishes. Finally, the knife that he is usingto slice up his own body is taken away from him, and he is tied up. During this scene hesees the people who are tying him up as his executioners preparing him to be pulled apartby wild horses. In a sense he is right about them being like executioners because afterbeing tied up, he is left in the street, where he eventually dies of his self-inflicted wounds.After his death, his family's life returns to normalcy. However, a madman from anotherfamily arrives in the village, and the cycle continues.By far the most striking aspect of this story is the graphic depiction of the extreme,shocking violence of both the madman's fantasies and his very real acts of self mutilation.The extent to which the description works to shock the reader is evident in passages suchas this, in which the madman is sawing his nose off, starting from the bottom and movingup:...the steel sawblade started biting in, and fresh blood started seepingout. His pitch black lips began to glisten red. Soon the saw had cut allthe way through to the bone and had started to emit a faint, hoarse24rasping sound. By then he wasn't yelling like just before but, rather,was shaking his head ever so slightly and emitting hoarse sounds thatmatched those of the saw. The way he looked then, as the saw cutinto his nasal bone, made people feel that he was joyfully playing aharmonica. However, not long afterwards he began to yell wildly.After the temporary numbness of the past moments had passed, thepain came on even heavier... he removed the saw and placed it on hisleg... fresh blood flowed freely down, soon his lips and his chin weresolidly red and uncountable rivulets of blood twisted their way downhis chest.., he extended his deformed, blood-covered fingernail andstarted to pick out the chips of bone embedded between the teeth of thesaw. They were soaked through with blood and glistened bright redin the sun.21In the context of this story, descriptions of shocking violence serve many purposes.In one sense, they are part of an attempt to shock readers out of their everydaycomplacency. More importantly, however, the madman's horrible self-mutilation is usedto evoke the horrors of the past — both of the more immediate, specific past of the CulturalRevolution and the greater, more general past of Chinese civilization. The violence in"1986" is not random mutilation but, rather, proceeds in an ancient, rigidly prescribedfashion. Before beginning the implementation of any of these methods of punishment, themadman shouts out the classical Chinese name for it and, thus, makes this link explicit.In a specific sense, he is a reminder of the Cultural Revolution and both its violenceand the horrible effect it had upon so many people. He has suffered, been tom away fromhis family, and gone mad as a direct result of the insanity of that period. In a more general21 Yu Hua, "1986 nian" in Yu Hua, Shiba sui chu men yuan xing (Leaving home andtravelling afar at eighteen) (Taibei: Yuanliu chuban gongsi, 1990), pp. 74, 75. Until thenext footnote, all page numbers given in the text will refer to this source.25sense, he is an embodiment of the past, a past that the people of his hometown haveforgotten and refuse to face up to. The shocking, grotesque forms of traditional violencethat a forgotten and discarded victim of history inflicts on himself and fantasizes inflictingon others is both a representation of his personal anger and a graphic reminder (a la LuXun) of the horrible aspects lurking within Chinese tradition. It forms a stark contrast tothe idyllic, forgetful world of the village, and the third person narration regularly switchesbetween pleasant descriptions of the coming of Spring, people out walking, and thecommonplace social life of the people of 1986, the fears and bewilderment of a familyfaced with the spectre of the past, and the wild perceptions and fantastic violence of themadman.Near the beginning of the story, the relation between the past and the present worldof the story is made explicit: "That disaster of over ten years ago has now become butclouds and mist that had passed before people's eyes. The slogans left on the walls havebeen completely covered by repeated whitewashing. When they are out walking, theydon't see the past any more. They see only the present." [p. 57] On the page before thispassage, the reaction of people to the madman is described as follows: "They all saw him,but no one paid any attention to him. As they were looking at him, they were alsoforgetting all about him." [p. 56] For brief periods people do pay attention to him, orrather to his horrible actions, but even in the final scene where they expend the energyneeded to tie him up, their attention is shortlived and they soon leave him. In fact, in thisscene it is his horrible voice, the horrible voice of the past, which prompts them to tie himup and, thus, silence him. [p. 88]However, the madman should not be thought of as serving only a symbolicfunction. His personal thoughts, emotions, and very different perceptions are an importantpart of the story. This story (like "The April Third Incident") is also very much aboutperception and different realities. The madman sees things differently, morbidly, andmakes some rather strange mental connections. Descriptions of these strange perceptions26serve to bring into question commonsense perception, to titillate the imagination, tounderscore the gulf between him (both personally and as a symbol of the past) and thesociety of the present, and to further add to the contrast in the alternating pattern of horrorand commonplace contentment that makes up this story. Early in the story, when theschoolteacher is taken away, his perceptions start to change, reflecting both a change in hisstatus in relation to society and a personal, mental change. An important feeling that he hasis the perception of being distant from things that are really near at hand. The first time hehas this feeling is when he is being taken from his home. Then, "...the sound of hisdaughter's crying made him feel extremely distant." [p. 48] This kind of feeling reappearsat the end of the story when he is nearing death. It appears, however, from twoperspectives. First, to the people on the street his horrible cries, "...seemed to be comingfrom a distant place...," [p. 88] but, a short while afterwards, he himself sees these otherpeople as being distant. [p. 96] This feeling of distance is reflective of his very realremoval from the milieu of society and his continuing alienation from it, as well as thedistance from the events of the Cultural Revolution that the townspeople have created intheir minds.The shock of being removed from his home and his fears of what might happen tohim change his way of perceiving the world and create a new reality for him. The processof changing perceptions, of moving from the commonplace to something entirely different,begins in the scene in which he is imprisoned in a classroom and is supposed to be writinga confession. At first, aside from his feeling of being distant, of seeing himself in the pastand in the present as if from a distance, there is nothing unusual about his perceptions.However, after sitting in the classroom for a while, he looks at the windows and noticesthat,...all the glass looked as completely clean as if it had been wiped amoment ago. It looked just like there was no glass there. He feltconfused. The desks were covered with such a thick layer of dust, yet27the windows were so clean. At this point he noticed a piece of brokenglass. That broken shape was truly wretched. He stood up andwalked towards that piece of glass. One kind of wretchedness waswalking towards another. He was shocked when he walked up to thewindow. He finally realized that this broken piece was really all thatwas left of the glass. [p. 50]His confusion about why the windowpanes are so clean, followed by his discoverythat this is because there is no glass left, to an extent, adheres to the pattern of naivedescription first identified in "The April Third Incident." Soon afterwards another, far lessinventive use of this technique appears. He sees his shadow but is not fully aware of it assuch. He runs at it and runs away and sees it shrink and expand. He is very suspiciousand quite afraid of this "black hole." [p. 52] This kind of scene with his shadow is verycliched ( it, along with similar scenes about looking into mirrors, is a stock image incartoons, for example), but it does serve the point of showing the nature of his perceptualchanges and the growing darkness of his perceptions.From that point on, in the scenes in which the narrator focuses on the schoolteacherturned madman, the imagery is bizarre and highly reflective of the madman's new, morbidsensibility. For example, he sees the sun as a, "a radiant head spitting forth fresh blood,"[p. 59] streetlights during the day as, "... human heads drained of blood...," [p. 60] andwhen he sees some boats, he feels that they are floating on the river "like corpses." [p. 61]In another scene, a bizarre circular metaphor is used in which fire is described as blood,and the drops of "blood" as feeling like sparks: "...he saw a blazing pool of blood... Hewalked up beside the flaming blood and felt that, in the spitter spatter of blood splashingout in all directions, a few drops struck his face and were hot as sparks." [p. 65] At timesthe readers are forced to view the world through his eyes in this bizarre manner, and it isnot always self-evident what he is actually seeing.28However, his violent extended fantasies, as opposed to his unusual thoughts aboutreality, are clearly distinguished from the reality of his disgusting self-mutilations. Unlikein "The April Third Incident," however, this distinction is not made by phrases such as "sohe imagined" or "so he had dreamed" or anything as clear as that. Nonetheless, despite thisrelative absence of any explicit identification of fantasies as such, the distinction is muchclearer in "1986" because in this story the fantasies are so absurd, so filled with blackhumour, that they are entirely removed in style and tone both from the very gritty, naturalistdescriptions of the real violence that they usually parallel and from the idyllic scenes ofSpring that are interspersed amongst them. For example, after he has vividly imagineddecapitating a crowd of people and cutting their bodies in two, he thinks that:...pairs of legs without bodies were blindly walking along in a line.From time to time, some of them would smack into each other and fallto the ground... He reached out his hand and started to peel the skinoff the people who were still walking towards him.., it gave off theincomparably beautiful sound of satin being ripped. [pp. 84, 85]Contrast this with the previously given detailed description of him trying to cut his noseoff. Further clarifying the distinction between fantasy and reality is the fact that he onlyfantasizes being violent to others but always carries out his fantasies on himself.In conclusion, "1986" deals with far more than the subjective alienation of anindividual cast out and ignored by society. It also deals with the larger theme of the relationof the past to the present and modern Chinese society's unwillingness to fully face up to itspast. This narrative also toys with the readers' senses, forcing them to see the world inradically different ways and brutally shocking them out of everyday complacency withhellish scenes of graphic violence. In this sense, it is very much a part of the modernistand postmodernist effort to break through commonsense mindsets.19Senseless violence in a nightmare world— "One Kind of Reality" Yu Hua's "One Kind of Reality" is a shockingly bizarre story of cruelty andbrutality. In it the worst aspects of humanity are both clinically exposed and darklysatirized. The characters in this story are extremely distant from each other and lackempathy, sympathy, and the ability to engage in introspection. This kind of mutualalienation and personal numbness is an important part of the absurd, senseless world ofthis story.When the story begins, we are introduced to a family living under one roof,consisting of a hypochondriac grandmother, her two sons Shanfeng and Shan'gang, theirwives, and their two sons. The oldest of her two sons, Shan'gang, has a four year old boycalled Pipi. One day, when the only adult in the house, his grandmother, is in her roomworrying about her illnesses, Pipi tortures his infant cousin, Shanfeng's baby boy, andthen carries him outside where he unwittingly drops him. The baby falls to the ground,splits his head open, and dies. Later, after this has been discovered and Pipi admits tohaving done it, Shanfeng kills Pipi in revenge. The day after, Pipi's father, Shan'gang,ties his brother to a tree, smears his bare feet with grease and sets a dog on him causinghim to be tickled to death. After Shanfeng's death by tickling, his wife reports this incidentto the police and Shan'gang is arrested and eventually executed. As part of her revenge,Shanfeng's wife also donates Shan'gang's body to science to ensure that his importantorgans will be removed and that he will not be buried whole. Chinese tradition attachesgreat importance to being buried whole. According to Confucian tradition, one's body isgiven to one by one's parents and to fail to preserve it intact is unfilial. In an obvious30reference to the meaninglessness of the individual and in an attempt to shock, in the finalscene the dismemberment of his body is described in extreme and irreverent detail.22As is clear from this short plot summary, "One Kind of Reality" is about thebrutality and viciousness of human beings. This brutality and viciousness is closely tied tothe mutual alienation of the characters in the story. They are often portrayed as beingdistant from each other and the world, and they are generally lacking in any concern for thefeelings of others. The coldness of this reality is further emphasized by the use of a verydetached mode of narration.The scene in which Pipi unthinkingly drops his baby cousin and thus causes hisdeath forms the impetus for the revenge killings that are to come, and in its senselessness istypical of much of what is to come. As might be expected of a four year old, Pipi hasneither a full consciousness of what he is doing while he is doing it nor an understandingof the implications of what he has done after he is finished. All he knows is the violence ofhis family, his reality. When he hears the raindrops falling on the roof, to him they are like"his father's index finger rapping away at his head,"23 and when he sees water tricklingdown the window he thinks first of roads and then of cars crashing into each other at highspeed. [p. 188] This becomes all the more evident when he starts to "play" with the baby:...he stroked his cousin's face with his hand. That face was as softas cotton and he couldn't help but give it a good tweak. As soon as hedid, his cousin let out a "wa" sound and started bawling away.22 Quite successfully disturbing some Chinese readers — for example, see Wang Binbin(1992), p. 37.23 Yu Hua, "Xianshi yizhong" (One Kind of Reality) in Yu Hua, Shiba sui chu menyuan xing (Leaving home and travelling afar at eighteen) (Taibei: Yuanliu chubangongsi, 1990), p. 186. Until the next footnote, all page numbers given in the text willrefer to this source.31The sound of crying made him feel inexplicably joyous. He took alook at his cousin and gave him a smack to the side of his face. He'doften seen father slap mother like that. [p. 187]As this continues, Pipi becomes more and more vicious, yet throughout he neverfeels any empathy at all. He never thinks about what it would feel like to have someonetorture him in the same manner that he is torturing his cousin. In fact, sometimes he doesnot even think of his cousin as a human being. When he is carrying his cousin aboutoutside, Pipi feels like "he is carrying a big piece of meat," [p. 188] and soon forgets thatthis "piece of meat "that he is carrying is a living person: "He felt that this heaviness wasoriginating from the thing that he was holding in his hands, so he let go. When he heardthat thing fall to the ground.. .[emphasis mine]" [p. 189]. He sees that his cousin's headhas split open and he sees the blood come out, but he is totally unconcerned. He goes backinside and falls asleep unaware of the significance of what he has done.The narrator has coldly described what Pipi sees in graphic detail:...there was a small pool of blood on the concrete around where hiscousin's head was... then he saw a few ants quickly crawling overfrom all directions, and stopping as soon as they came to the blood.There was only one ant who went around the blood and crawled uponto his hair. It crawled up along a strand of blood-encrusted hairright up to his cousin's head and into the place where the blood hadflowed out of. [p. 190]However, neither Pipi nor the narrator seem any more emotional than the ants.Both Pipi's lack of concern or even basic awareness for the suffering of others andhis inability to grasp what he has done are paralleled by the thoughts and actions of all thekillers that follow, including the executioners. This is particularly evident in the descriptionof Shanfeng on the day after he has killed Pipi for killing his son. Shanfeng seems to havetotally lost awareness of reality and can only think about his headache. When the family32has gone to the crematorium for the funeral of the children, he sees a group of mournerscoming out and "their weeping and wailing as they walked out made him feel disgusted."[p. 218] Shan'gang refers to "two unfortunate accidents," and Shanfeng finds it funny. [p.218] Furthermore, Shanfeng cannot even remember what happened. He remembers thattwo children died and that there was some link between them but he simply cannot figureout what it was. Only after he has acquiesced to being tied to a tree for one hour to makeup for having killed his brother's son and has been firmly tied up, does he remember.Indeed, much of both Shan'gang and Shanfeng's concern over the loss of theirrespective sons seems to have very little to do with sorrow and anger over the loss of aloved one. In a Chinese context (as is common elsewhere) sons are highly valued for theirability to carry on the family line. These two characters relate to their losses more in thisand a related sense than in a sense of sorrow. This, as well as the almost mechanical natureof the chain of revenges, is part of Yu Hua's exposure of a cold-hearted formalism inChinese society.In addition to this kind of distance and the almost total absence of emotions otherthan hate, fear, and disgust, the characters in this story often feel distant, act as if they donot recognize each other, and consistently ignore each other. For example, when the twobrothers were walking to work together, it "...looked as if they didn't know each other."[p. 186] Their two wives, after returning home from the funeral for their respective sonsare described as follows: "They [the two wives] were as quiet as they'd always been, as ifnothing had happened or as if everything that had happened was incredibly distant, sodistant that it had already dropped from their memories." [p. 219]Consistently throughout the story characters are ignored by other characters. Thisis especially so with Shan'gang and Shanfeng's mother, who despite her incessant attemptsto be noticed, has long since completely dropped from the other characters' thoughts. Ashas already been mentioned, all of this is underscored by the narrator's uninvolved, cold,even uncaring tone. The narrator never expresses emotion or judgement and consistently33describes scenes through a character so as to add on an extra layer of distance. Forexample, in the description of ants crawling into Pipi's cousin's brain the phrase "he saw"punctuates the description. [p. 190] As the story progresses the increasing use of blackhumour adds yet another layer of distance."One Kind of Reality" is not a simple condemnation of violence and brutality. Theabsurdity that permeates it precludes simplicity and highlights the ambiguities of human lifeand the meaningless of the world. In addition, the use of black humour creates a kind ofinternal tension between horror and humour that further underscores this ambiguity. Theevents of "One Kind of Reality" increase in absurdity as the story progresses. The death ofShanfeng's baby boy is described in a detached, starkly realist manner and is in itselfhorrible and by no means either ridiculous or improbable. By the middle of the story,however, absurdity has taken over. What could be more ridiculous than death by tickling?Nonetheless, during this scene, the tone of the narration generally remains both detachedand serious, with the result that this patently absurd murder by tickling seems both possibleand horrible.Shanfeng and Shan'gang's mother's ridiculous worries and bizarre thoughts formthe link between the brutal realism of the first scenes of violence and the horrible absurdityand black humour that comes to dominate the story in its second half. Her degenerationand eventual death also parallel the degeneration and eventual destruction of her family. Inthe opening scene, when the whole family is sitting around the table eating breakfast, shecomplains that, "It seems like moss is growing in my stomach." [p. 184] This leads hersons to think of, "...the kind of moss that earthworms have crawled over, the kind thatgrows around the edges of wells and in the corners made by broken down walls, the kindthat has a bit of shiny green to it." [p. 184] At the same time that Pipi is killed in revengeby Shanfeng, she begins to feel that her innards are rotting. Pipi's head smashes "downonto the pavement with a heavy thud," [p. 204] and, at roughly the same time, she hears astrange sound coming from within her stomach. Two more sounds follow this and then34she begins to think that her, "...intestines have already completely rotted through. Shecouldn't imagine what colour they'd be after having rotted away, but she could come upwith an image of them [the bubbles] — bubbles given off when the thick slime in theresquirmed about." [p. 206] After this, she decides not to eat anymore. She feels that,"...eating is truly a dangerous thing because her stomach is not a bottomless pit. Therewould come a day when every little space inside her body would be stuffed full, and thenher body would burst. She'd be just like a bomb exploding. After her skin and flesh wereblasted onto the walls, they'd be just like slogans pasted up there... "[p. 206]. On the onehand, this is revolting and nauseating, but on the other hand it is ridiculous and even a littlefunny. It is this kind of tension that makes up black humour. This passage sets the scenefor what will follow, when the grotesque and disturbing become more and more closelylinked with the ridiculous and the absurd, eventually becoming superimposed in the finalscene, in which Shan'gang is cut up for spare parts.Black humour can be loosely defined as the humour of morbid absurdity. There isa natural tendency to laugh at the absurd and the bizarre, those things that are exaggeratedor are radically different from what is expected. Part of this simply stems from the natureof humour. Many jokes rely on surprise to elicit laughter, and the audacity of blackhumour often has the same effect. However, in another sense, the laughter is a sort ofdefense mechanism that allows us to deal with the truly different and disturbing and yetsomehow avoid facing it directly. There is a certain degree of uncomfortableness and evenguilt that accompanies finding such things as death, violence, and the grotesque to beamusing, even when they are described in overblown or absurd ways. Partially this stemsfrom societal norms. One is not supposed to ever laugh at death. Most importantly,however, the violent and the grotesque are never fully or inherently funny. Furthermore,especially in "One Kind of Reality," many of the episodes of black humour are distinctlyhorrible. Paradoxically, the horror of such scenes can be such that the desire to avoidfacing it increases our emphasis on the absurd aspects of it. Thus, black humour does have35the potential to force us out of conventional modes of thinking (or, at the very least,confuse us), to give us the double shock of seeing the horrible and then, despite ourselves,seeing the amusing aspects of it. Paradox is a staple of postmodernism. Black humour isthe height of paradox and certainly is an important part of many postmodemist works?-4The tension between the horrible and the absurd is used to particularly good effectin the execution scene and what follows it. In the execution scene, Yu Hua almost seemsto be toying with his readers and trying to see how bizarre and disgusting this scene can bemade while, at the same time, showing the complete dehumanization of Shan'gang andillustrating the real worthlessness of a person in this horrible world. Additionally, in thisscene both the executioners and the crowd that has gathered to watch are shown as beingmuch the same as Shan'gang and Shanfeng in their brutality and lack of concern for thesuffering of others. Shan'gang even remembers being a part of such a crowd on many pastoccasions. This short episode that occurs shortly before the completely tied up Shan' gangis about to be executed is particularly effective in illustrating what this scene is like:he [Shan'gang] said to the militiaman at his side, "Squad leader,I've gotta piss.""Okay," replied the militiaman."Could you please take that thing out for me.""Just piss in your pants," said the militiaman.He [Shan'gang] could feel that the people around him were smilingaway. He didn't know why they were so happy. He spread his legsapart a little ways and started to twist his face up into an expression ofdiscomfort.After a few moments had passed, the militiaman asked, "Better?"24 See, for example, the black humour in Salman Rushdie, The Satanic Verses (Viking,1988).36"The piss won't come," he replied in agony."In that case, forget it"25This kind of horrifying description continues, with the balance increasingly shiftingto the absurd, and the events start to follow the twisted logic of a bad dream. For example,the first attempt at executing Shan'gang fails, and the second attempt only results in his earbeing shot off. After each of these two attempts, Shan'gang asks, "Am I dead?" When,after the second attempt, he asks this and is told that he is not dead, he asks to be taken tothe hospita1.26 After being shot in the head at point blank range in the fourth and finalattempt and really dying, he makes a ghostly visit to his wife:...Shan'gang's wife saw a man walk in, this man had only half ahead. The day was just dawning.She remembered herself having locked up, but when he came in,she felt like the door was wide open. Despite his only having half ahead, it only took a single glance for her to recognize Shan'gang."I've been released," said Shan'gang.His voice had a kind of a drone to it, and she asked him, "Have yougot a cold?""I probably do," .. .27The incongruity of this question and the bizarre understatement of the reply (afterall, half his head has been blasted away) show just how weird things are becoming.Finally, in the last scene, the story becomes entirely farcical. For example,The urologist hadn't managed to squeeze in so he was left pacingabout on the sidelines. "URINE" was printed in big letters on hissurgical mask. The urologist watched them working away on the ping25 Yu Hua, "One Kind of Reality," pp. 236, 237.26 Ibid., p. 238.27 Ibid., pp. 238, 239.37pong table and couldn't help starting to feel worried. He kept warningthe doctor who was working on Shan'gang's abdomen, "Don't yougo wrecking my testicles now."28This farcical scene works both to show the worthlessness of the individual in thesenseless world of the story and to play with preconceptions and taboos by means of blackhumour. However, it is quite different from much of what has come before. The tone ismore lighthearted, and the humour is more silly than bizarre; the nightmare has turned intoa strange dream. On first reading, I found this scene to be annoying and unnecessary andfelt that it only lessened the impact of the story. However, its very silliness andincongruity does work to pull the carpet out from under us one more time, and, in thisregard, it is successful.Postmodernist themes — a summing upIn the course of the preceding examination of four of Yu Hua's stories, a number ofthemes, many of which are characteristically postmodernist, have been identified, and avery dark perspective has emerged. The prominent themes in "Leaving Home andTravelling Afar at Eighteen" are that the individual is alone in this world, people are crueland vicious, and the world is random and bewildering. In "The April Third Incident" theworld is also shown to be bewildering. This story illustrates how ambiguous a thingreality is and shows that there are many different modes of perception. In "1986" thesethemes reappear, as do themes specific to the Chinese context that are closely linked tomore universal ones: the Cultural Revolution was horrible and destroyed many people; theworld is a cruel and vicious place; this horrible past is being forgotten and denied; it shouldnot be. In "One Kind of Reality," the world is once again shown to be bizarre and28 Ibid., p. 246.38bewildering. Society and the people that make it up are shown to be cruel and vicious.Humans are beasts and there is little meaning to this crazy world.These simple thematic statements do not fully cover what is undertaken in thesestories. Certain stylistic devices and techniques, such as the use of extreme black humouror the use of naive description, serve an important postmodernist purpose in themselves,particularly as part of an attempt to do what, in his definition of postmodernist literature,M. H. Abrams calls subverting "our accepted modes of thought and experience." 29 It isworth examining Yu Hua's use of such techniques in greater detail.29 Abrams, p. 110.39Chapter Twostyle and technique — postmodernist ramifications Confusion. Disorientation. These are the primary means by which Yu Huaattempts to replicate the complexity and ambiguity of the world and break through the"unrealistic" conventions of realism. In an essay first published in 1989, Yu Huaexplained his attitudes regarding this:After I discovered that the old attitude towards writing of "consideringthings as they are" could only lead to superficial truths, I had to goand search out new modes of expression ... I started to use a kind of"false" form. This kind of form left behind the order and logicsupplied to me by the immediate world. However, it allowed me tofreely approach the truth. 1A particularly potent technique for doing this, for breaking past the the surface andgoing beyond conventional ways of viewing reality, is the technique of magic realism. M.H. Abrams writes of magic realist authors as follows:...they interweave in an ever-shifting pattern, a sharply etched realismwith fantastic and dreamlike elements... These [fabulist or magicrealist novels] violate, in a variety of ways, standard novelisticexpectations by drastic... fusions of the everyday, the fantastic, themythical, and the nightmarish in renderings that blur traditional1 Yu Hua, "Xuwei de zuopin" ("False" works) in Yu Hua, Shishi ru yan (The affairs ofthe world are like smoke) (Taibei: Yuanliu chuban gongsi, 1991), p. 7. All pagenumbers given in the text in this chapter are from this book.40distinctions between what is serious or trivial, horrible or ludicrous,tragic or comic.2Magic realism, thus, in essence, involves the juxtaposition of the fantastic and possible in astory in which both are described as if they were real and, in doing so, underminesaccepted distinctions.In the context of postmodernist literature, magic realism has two sets of importantfunctions. First, it goes against the conventions of realism and works to subvert the realisttradition (a tradition which is very much alive in China and was particularly so during themid-eighties, when Yu Hua began writing). In China, writers of straightforward fantasy(in which, unlike in magic realism, specific conventions do separate the fantastic world ofthe story from the "real" world of the present) and science fiction have received very littleserious attention. In fact, anecdotal evidence suggests that educated Chinese readers tendto prefer that which they see as being "realistic" over all else. In discussions with Chinesestudents in both China and Canada, I have indeed found a strong tendency to criticize andpraise stories on this basis. More often than not, however, what is meant by "realistic" isin fact "realist." This is not surprising because realism, in various forms, has been thepredominant literary style in China for the last seventy years.Returning to Abrams, he describes realism as, "...fiction which will give theillusion that it reflects life and the social world as it seems to the common reader [emphasismine]."3 Realism is a stylistic mode and realist fiction is, after all, fiction. Furthermore, itis neither essential nor universal for realist fiction to actually have any basis in fact. Forexample, for a realist author to successfully describe life as a peasant in eighteenth centuryFrance, it is totally unnecessary for the author to do so accurately, so long as the stylisticdevices are so used as to render the portrayal convincing to the reader. Magic realism2 M. H. Abrams (1988), p. 122.3 Ibid., p. 152.41subverts the conventions of realism by paradoxically using the style of realism, in particularthe objective narratorial tone and the use of extreme detail, to present, with little distinction,that which would be considered highly implausible if not entirely impossible.The second, and perhaps more interesting, effect of the use of magic realism is theblurring of the conventional boundaries between dreams, fantasy, and reality, boundariesthat are very much a part of the modern, rational world view. Yu Hua sees life as, "...thetrue and the false jumbled together with the false masquerading as the true." [p. 11] Magicrealism can be used to depict this kind of world, to bring into question the notion of asingle immutable reality, and to generally undermine metaphysical and epistemologicalfoundations. It is this aspect that will be focused on in the following examination."The Affairs of the World Are Like Smoke" – blurring the linesMagic realism and other disorientating techniques are used to particularly goodeffect in Yu Hua's novella "The Affairs of the World Are Like Smoke" [Shishi ru yan] bothto effect the previously mentioned undermining of foundations and to heighten thehorrifying, nightmarelike atmosphere of this story. The plot, albeit quite complicated andperhaps intentionally difficult to follow, remains and can even be summarized."The Affairs of the World Are Like Smoke" is set in some unspecified small townin China (it is China — note references to Guanyin and to the playing of a suona during awedding procession, for example [pp. 56, 102]) in some vaguely modern period (there areautomobiles). It deals, for the most part, with the lives and fates of the inhabitants of acourtyard, a fortune-teller whom they visit, and a blind man who sits on a rock along thepath to the fortune-teller's house. They are un-named and are only identified by numbers,names of professions (e.g. Driver, Midwife, etc.), attributes (e.g. the Blind Man, theWoman in Grey, etc.) or in relation to those already identified in this manner.The first part of the first chapter introduces the characters and foreshadows much ofwhat is to come. One by one almost all of the inhabitants of the courtyard visit Master42Fortune-teller and eventually either die or lose their children to either death or to MasterFortune-teller. He is a vampiric character who drains the life-energy of his own offspringand who rapes young girls on the fifteenth of every month so as to cultivate his yangenergy and thus extend his life.The first inhabitants of the courtyard to visit Master Fortune-teller are Driver and hismother, Midwife. Driver has had a vivid dream about running over a woman wearing agrey jacket and wants to have it interpreted by Master Fortune-teller. At the fortune-teller'she sees the woman from his dream leaving, and the worlds of dreaming and waking arelinked for the first time. He later fails to follow Master Fortune-teller's advice that in orderto avoid death he should quickly stop his truck should he ever see a woman wearing a greyjacket. He stops his truck only after having passed by the Woman-in-Grey, the womanfrom his dream and the same person whom he had run into at Master Fortune-teller'searlier. He buys her jacket and runs it over with his truck. Not long afterwards, theWoman-in-Grey mysteriously dies in her sleep. We learn that she has also recently visitedMaster Fortune-teller to ask for advice. Following tradition, her son moves up the date ofhis marriage to coincide with that of his mother's funeral, " as to use happiness todispel sadness... " [p. 63] Driver is invited to the wedding as a friend of the bride.Perhaps, he had loved her in the past. The wedding scene is filled with a masterfulmanipulation of contrasting images of light and dark, paralleling the contrasting moods ofhappiness and sadness. In a sense, it is a microcosm of the world and a reflection of theinterplay between the dark or spirit world [you] and the light or natural world [ming] that ispart of the play of opposites embodied in the principle of yin-yang as well as, according toKarl S. Y. Kao, an important part of certain types of traditional Chinese stories of the43supernatura1.4 During this scene, Driver is viciously teased by 2 and finally flees to thekitchen where he commits suicide (or so it seems).Meanwhile, we have been introduced to 6, a widower who has been selling off hisdaughters one by one and now has only one daughter left. She is fast approaching an ageat which her father could find willing customers to sell her to, and she is terrified by thisprospect. Every morning 6 wakes up very early and goes to the riverside to fish while it isstill dark. One morning he notices two strange figures by the riverside. They turn out tobe legless ghosts who magically catch fish and gobble them up in a never-ending cycle.From this day onwards, the ghosts are to be found at the river every morning and 6 is nolonger able to catch any fish. Finally, terrified, he gives up fishing altogether. He visitsMaster Fortune-teller to tell him about these ghosts and Master Fortune-teller is terrified.6 later makes a deal with a buyer of women (a man who is wearing a sheepskin coatand is thus literally in sheep's clothing, no less) to sell his last daughter. However, 6demands more than the usual price and the buyer has to go to another town to get theadditional money. Before the buyer can return, 6's daughter dies mysteriously. In abizarre scene filled with black humour, her corpse is purchased by 2, who latersymbolically marries her ashes to the ashes of Driver, so as to fulfill a promise that he hadmade to Driver's spirit and to stop Driver's ghost from visiting him in his dreams anddemanding that he find a wife for him. Prior to this, Driver's mother, Midwife, has made avisit to the spirit world, where she helped deliver the baby of one of the legless fish-eatingghosts, and has since died mysteriously.Another resident of the same courtyard as Midwife, 3, has visited Master Fortune-teller to find out what she should do with her grandson's child whom she is pregnant with.Master Fortune-teller arranges to adopt her child to replace his recently deceased son and4 Karl S. Y. Kao, Classical Chinese Tales of the Supernatural and the Fantastic (IndianaUniversity Press, 1985), p. 8.44thus continue to extend his life. Similarly, 3's neighbour, the chronically ill 7, has beenconvinced by Master Fortune-teller that the cause of his illness is the presence of his sonand has given up his son to Master Fortune-teller.4's father has taken his beautiful young daughter, 4, to Master Fortune-teller to fmdout why it is that she always talks in her sleep. 4's father is then tricked by MasterFortune-teller into allowing him to rape 4, supposedly as a means of expelling the demonsthat make her talk in her sleep. 4 is so affected by this horrible experience that she finallygoes crazy and after stripping completely naked, walks into the river and drowns. She isfollowed in death by the Blind Man, who has always been obsessed with the sound of hervoice and who, after waiting by the river for days, finally wades in after her, and the storycomes to an end.In addition to any ideas about the victory of ugliness over beauty, the destruction ofyouth, the horribleness of the world, the viciousness, stupidity, greed, and gullibility ofhuman beings, and the horrors of both Chinese culture and recent Chinese history, thisstory is also very concerned with questions of perception and with causing are-examination of the way in which we view reality.What probably strikes the reader of this story first is that none of the charactershave names. Some are referred to by profession or distinguishing characteristic but mostare assigned numbers instead of names. At first glance, this may seem to just be amodernist affectation — simply an attempt to be strange. However, it does serve severalfunctions. In a sense, it is an allusion to the meaninglessness of the person as anindividual. In this sense, the characters are but screws in the machinery of fate set to playout assigned roles. It also calls attention to the artifice of the story. After all, no one in thereal world goes by number names. It could also be seen as a reaction to traditional Chineseshort story forms in which, in imitation of historical works, characters are often introducedin great detail with multiple names and a host of other biographical details given. The storyis filled with allusions to fate and is heavy on the use of foreshadowing and omens and45perhaps the use of numbers could be a reference to Chinese numerology (however, I haveyet to find any concrete connections between the symbolic significance of the character'snumbers and their fates). Chinese names all have meaning (however obscure) and bynaming his characters in this way, Yu Hua has escaped having to assign names that maymake the role of his characters too obvious. For the reader, the use of numbers is oftenconfusing, and this is probably intentional. For both readers and characters, the world of"The Affairs of the World Are Like Smoke" is indeed often a confusing, blurry, hazyplace.This is intensified by the use of magic realism. In the scene where Midwife makesa visit to the home of a ghost, this is particularly evident. This scene begins with adescription of a strange dream that Midwife is having. Soon, however, the sound ofsomeone calling at her door pulls her out of the world of dreams and into what one expectswill be the normal world of the awake. This person asks her to come with him to assist hisneighbour in giving birth. Midwife feels that there is something unusual about him; hisfeatures are strangely indistinct and his voice sounds as if it were coming from far away.Nonetheless, she still follows him. As she follows him she notices even more strangethings about him, yet her reactions remain subdued and she seems to have no real troublewith what she sees. For example, "Her eyes strayed down towards his feet, but she didn'tsee anything. It was as if he hadn't any legs and his body was just floating along in mid-air.," [p. 75] her only reaction is to simply dismiss what she has just seen because,"something was probably wrong with her eyes." [p. 75] Throughout, the tone of thenarration remains incredibly controlled and subdued. Yes, we have entered the shadowworld, but that is nothing to be alarmed about.In fact, much of the effect of this scene depends on the contrast between thefeelings of the reader and the controlled narration and relatively detached attitude ofMidwife. The mood is very eerie, and the reader is given numerous indications thatMidwife is making a trip to a world of ghosts. When she comes to the part of town where46her patient is awaiting her, she sees many low buildings in the midst of pines andcypresses, trees that were traditionally planted amongst the tombs in Chinese graveyardsand have come to be symbolically linked with tombs. 5 A further hint that she is enteringthe world of the dead is that when she enters the area where her patient lives, she feels as ifshe has fallen down, almost as if she had entered a tomb.When she enters the house of the woman who is about to give birth, "she saw awoman lying on a colourless bed [emphasis mine]." [p. 75] This incongruous detail ispassed over without comment from either the narrator or Midwife. In the ethereal world ofspirits I suppose there are such things as colourless beds. In the detailed description thatfollows this, Yu Hua allows free reign to his imagination and uses some truly bizarreimagery:After walking in, she [Midwife] discovered that this woman wasentirely naked; the woman's skin was like the skin of a fish that hadhad its scales scraped off. She felt that this woman and the manstanding by her side were strikingly similar. Her face was also veryindistinct and, what's more, it was also difficult to see her legs.However, when Midwife stretched out her hand, she seemed to beable to feel legs there. Midwife started to work...This was the most difficult birth of her life, yet, unexpectedly, thatwoman made not a single sound. She just lay there calmly. WhenMidwife's hands came into contact with that woman's skin, it didn'tfeel at all normal, but, rather, was like touching water. To Midwife'shands, that woman felt like a pool of water. Midwife felt sweatcoming out from her every pore, and she was as cold as could be.Not until much later was the baby born. The strange thing was that5 Ci Yuan (The font of words) (Hong Kong: Commercial Press, 1979), vol. 2 , p. 1540.47throughout the whole process Midwife hadn't even seen so much as asingle drop of blood... [pp. 75, 76]Once again, Midwife's reactions are strangely muted. Nonetheless, she doesindeed notice the strange as being strange and, in so doing, adds a certain verisimilitude tothe scene. When dreaming, one tends not to notice the incongruous as such while actuallyin the world of dreams. Additionally, in most fantastic literature there is a tendencytowards polar reactions on the part of characters, in the sense that characters in the fantasyworld either belong and are not surprised by the fantastic (e.g., most science fiction) or areoutsiders and react with extreme amazement (e.g., in C.S. Lewis's The Lion, the Witch,and the Wardrobe). There is a tendency to be pulled along with Midwife in this scene andto temporarily accept these happenings as being unusual yet real. At the same time,however, the observant reader will have the suspicion, unvoiced by Midwife, that thesepeople are ghosts and, thus, will see the scene somewhat differently (for example, the "lowhouses" are not houses but, rather, tombstones). One final confusing possibility is that, inthe context of the story, this scene is in fact yet another dream, and she has simply dreamther awakening.Another aspect of this story that further confuses the distinctions between thenormal world, the spirit world, and the dream world is what could be called "tying-in ofeffects." What is meant by this is that happenings in one sphere have implications inanother. For example, in the scene that has just been discussed, after the birth, Midwife isgiven some soup by the ghost (this mundane detail further serves to bring the scene into therealm of normalcy) and later, in another more everyday reality, Midwife vomits up hersoup and discovers that what she had thought was a bowl of noodles topped with two eggswas, in fact, a mess of tangled hemp topped with two balls of hemp. [p. 811 Additionally,she discovers that the part of town that she had visited that night was, in fact, a graveyardand that in the spot where the house she had visited was located there was a grave of awoman who had died while still pregnant. [p. 79, 801 Furthermore, similar legless ghosts48appear for 6, and we also learn that Master Fortune-teller harbours an extreme fear oflegless ghosts. [pp. 54, 84] Thus, the ghosts are "real " ghosts and not dream ghosts, atleast in the sense that they are not specific to Midwife's reality. Finally, this visit to theworld of the dead has some connection with her very real death that occurs later. On theday after her visit to the spirit world and on the same day that she has vomitted up the soup,Midwife starts to feel strangely ethereal (like a ghost) and to have visions of a river, a partof nature which, in this story, has come to symbolize both the course of fate and "thestream of life." [p. 95] Later, her rotting body is described in gustatory detail. [pp. 100,101]This method of "tying-in effects" is also used to link dreams with the everydayworld. In this story dreams do have a very real effect on reality. For example, after Driverdies, he starts appearing in the dreams of his mother, Midwife, and 2 and asking them tofind him a wife. This was something that Driver had been worried about before his deathand that 2 had promised Driver's ghost he would arrange. The result of all this is thatDriver is eventually married to a dead girl and, thus, appeased. Similarly, after seeing theWoman in Grey in his dreams, Driver sees her in the real world.Yu Hua's use of magic realism is by no means limited to "The Affairs of the WorldAre Like Smoke." Even in his recent novel-length bildungsroman "Cries and Fine Rain"[Huhan yu xiyu], which is far less experimental in technique than most of his earlierworks, episodes of magic realism do exist. When defining magic realism, M. H. Abramsrefers to the blurring of, "...traditional distinctions between what is serious or trivial,horrible or ludicrous, tragic or comic."6 The following scene from "Cries and Fine Rain"certainly fits this description:At his wit's end, on the morning of the first day of the new year, SunYouyuan braved the freezing winter wind and ran into town carrying6 M. H. Abrams (1988), p. 122.49his father's corpse.. .When it [the body] was placed on the counter ofthe town's pawnshop, it was already as hard as a popsicle...The pawnbroker was a sixty year old man and in all his life he'd yetto hear of a dead person being pawned. He plugged his nose andwaved his hands repeatedly, "Can't accept it, can't accept it..."...a few other shop assistants carrying poles started striking out at SunYouyuan. Sun Youyuan could only lift up his father's corpse to blockthem and strike back...Having gained the powerful support of hisfather's corpse, brave Sun Youyuan beat those shop assistants untilthey were so terrified that they didn't know what to do...7Grotesque farce is not necessarily magic realism. The fact that "Cries and Fine Rain"moves in and out of this kind of description, at times serious, at times ridiculous, is whatmakes this kind of passage an example of magic realism.The black humour in this passage is strongly reminiscent of a previously discussedstory, "One Kind of Reality." Indeed, that story does contain magic realist elements (forexample, the scene discussed in Chapter 1 in which, after his execution, Shan'gang makesa ghostly visit to his wife), and black humour and magic realism are closely connected.However, it should be stressed that not all black humour is magic realism. Black humourcan successfully rely upon the use of an irreverent tone to describe things which are notimprobable or even exaggerated.Seeing anew — novel modes of perception in "The Affairs of the World Are Like Smoke"Using magic realism is certainly one way to portray the world in a new manner, andit also undoubtedly allows for the use of imaginative and novel means of expression anddescription. It is, however, not the only technique that can do this.7 Yu Hua, "Huhan yu xiyu" (Cries and fine rain), Shouhuo (1991, no. 6), pp. 50, 51.50As both part of his questioning of the nature of perception and of the boundariesbetween illusion and reality, and as a way to extend the boundaries of description (and,hence, of language) Yu Hua often uses radically different perspectives and modes ofdescription in his writing. For example, in "The Affairs of the World Are Like Smoke," heplays with the way we perceive in many ways. The third-person narrator of this storydescribes people using their shadows (e.g., Master Fortune-teller's son), [pp. 46,56]rapidly switches perspectives, and often turns to sound alone to underscore and even todescribe entire scenes.Much of this is channelled through the character of the Blind Man. Early in thestory we are introduced to the Blind Man and we learn that nearly every day he sits on arock along the path to Master Fortune-teller's house, just near the high school that 6'sdaughter and 4 go to. Apparently, "He knows about many things that have happened andare happening so his silence is unusually full." [p. 44] He remains a constant figurethroughout the horrible events of the story and is a choric character whose differentperceptions both provide insight and underscore the horror of the story. For example,during the funeral of the Woman-in-Grey, the crying of the professional mourner, 3,evokes countless horrors for the Blind Man:The sound of 3's crying seemed to contain all the hair-raising, bone-chilling sounds that there are. There was the terrified cry of a childfalling from a building, the sound of many window panes breaking atthe same time, the great boom of a door being suddenly blown openby a wild wind in the middle of the night... [p. 65]The method of transferring perception to the Blind Man is used to greatestadvantage during the scene in which 4 is raped by Master Fortune-teller. We are first givena detailed description of 4 being stripped naked, and then the scene suddenly shifts to theBlind Man:5 1This time 4's cries no longer had discernible intervals between themand had joined into one. When the sound reached the Blind Man, itseemed as if countless particles of dust were falling into his ears oneafter another...The Blind Man stood up. Facing towards this frightening sound,he groped his way over. He seemed to feel that the sounds comingtowards him were like raindrops in a rainstorm beating down upon hisface causing him to feel a dull sense of pain. As he walked forward,the sound became louder and louder and then he slowly began to feelthat this sound was not just that of raindrops in a rainstorm. He feltthat it was seemingly very sharp, piercing into his body. Then he alsofelt that a house was starting to collapse. Countless tiles weresmashing towards him. In the midst of this he heard a short gasp.This gasping sound mixed in with all this seemed incomparably gentleand soft, seemingly caressing the Blind Man's ears. Tears came to hiseyes. [p. 90]The horror is underscored by the fact that the Blind Man is not as aware of what ishappening to his beloved 4 as the reader is. By moving from dust to rain to the collapse ofa building and climaxing with tears we feel the Blind Man's horror and 4's pain. Thenovelty of this scene stems from the fact that we are forced to perceive sounds through ablind man who perceives them physically, viscerally. They pierce into his body, caress hisears, and beat down upon his face.Modes of description and perceptionYu Hua's technique of limiting the perception and/or description of scenes to soundalone forces us to "view" things in a manner different from that which we usually employ.52However, there is nothing inherently novel about describing sounds. In many cases, todescribe sounds, Yu Hua simply resorts to the use of simile — one sound is compared toanother. For example, in "The Affairs of the World Are Like Smoke," the Blind Manhears, "...the cry of a child falling from a building.. .the great boom of a door beingsuddenly blown open by a wild wind in the middle of the night..." [p. 65] in 3's crying.Sounds are compared to other sounds. However, as is often the case with simile, it is notsimply a question of comparison, but also of evocation. 3's crying may not actually havesounded at all like the sound of a door being blown open in the middle of the night, but thehorror felt by a listener or expressed by 3 may have evoked that frightening sound in themind of a listener. The connection is thus not descriptive in the literal, superficial sense,but, rather, in the sense of emotional connection.More often than not, however, Yu Hua describes sounds not through other soundsthat they evoke, but through visual means. This method has more potential for novelty.However, in some case the images that he uses are universal, in the sense that the linkbetween them and the evoking sound is self-evident and not primarily a link between otherepisodes in the story or the memories of a character. For example, in Yu Hua's short story"Summer Typhoons" [Xiaji taifeng]: "In the deep of night, the sound of Thong Qimin'sflute [xiao] drifted in the rain. The sound of the flute was like a sailboat plying the sea,floating far away in the darkness."8 It is easy to see how music could evoke such imagery,and it is not necessary to relate this to other images in the story or to see it as a character'smemory in order to understand it. In the same story, the effect of the sound of voices onmusic is described as follows: "The music had already made its getaway. Their noisyvoices were the Japs that had crossed Marco Polo Bridge back that year. The music had8 Yu Hua, "Xiaji taifeng" (Summer typhoons), Zhongshan (1991, no. 4), p. 20.53fled for its life at full speed."9 This is similarly universal. The music is personified andcompared to people fleeing the Japanese during the Second World War.In other circumstances, sounds evoke responses, emotions, and images that aremore personal. For example, in "Summer Typhoons": "When Bai Shu knocked on thedoor, he heard the faint sound of a song coming from inside. Then, the indistinct image ofthat pond on the west side of town rippling at dawn appeared before his eyes; there were afew blades of grass floating on its surface."10 Certainly we have all had the experience ofmemories being triggered by more or less Unrelated sounds. In this case, the triggeredimages are a part of a character's memory and are revealed as part of the process ofcharacterization. That is not to say, however, that this image is inexplicable and does nothave any innate evocative power for the average reader, who does not share Bai Shu'smemoriesIn other scene from the same story, sounds are also described in visual terms: "Thesound of their laughter was like countless pieces of paper fluttering in the wind. After theirlaughter was gone, the pieces of paper were still dancing about on the lawn. Without thesun shining on it, the lawn was exceptionally green and so the paper dancing about on itwas as beautiful as could be." Although "universal" in a sense and not especially shownas evoked memory, the visual terms of this simile are a reflection of nearby reality and areiteration of a motif. Thus, it can be seen that such a mode of evocation can also be usedas part of the unifying imagery of a story.In his essay "False' Works" [Xuwei de zuopin], Yu Hua refers approvingly toMarcel Proust's notion of the kind of evocation that has been discussed above:In The Remembrance of Things Past Proust writes, "Only throughthe sound of a bell does Cambrai at noon come into my mind, and9 Ibid., p. 1610 ibid., p. 6.11 ibid., p. 5.54only through the noises of the radiator do I come to think of Tangiersin the morning.12The usually spontaneous evocation of memories by sights, sounds, and smells,appears in a very different form in this passage from Yu Hua's "This Story is Dedicated tothe Young Woman Yang Liu" [Ci wen xiangei shaonii Liu Yang] in which images areactively used as a way of remembering:The words on the paper hinted at some faded thing of the past, and Ilapsed into deep yet empty thought. My eyes focussed on the sunlightoutside the window. I took the sunlight of this instant and all thesunlight left in my memory and joined them together. The result wasthat my attention turned to the sunlight beside a brilliantly coloured bedof flowers. In the sunlight of that time a nurse walked up to me...13The narrator takes the sunlight and joins it together with his memories of sunlight in orderto force an evocation.Yu Hua's notions of the importance and reality of memories and of our individualspiritual world are clearly spelled out in a statement on reality appropriately titled "MyReality" [Wode zhenshi]:All that exists is true, and there only exists truth. Inside my mind,things that others out in the real world would not think of as being realI think of as real. For example, a person is dead, yet still lives on inmy mind because I still remember him. As soon as I remember himthat means he is still alive. Moreover, that I have already forgotten12 Yu Hua, "Xuwei de zuopin" ("False" works), p. 8 [I chose to translate from theChinese translation because that is what Yu Hua refers to].13 Yu Hua, Ci wen xiangei shaonii Yang Liu (This story is dedicated to the youngwoman Yang Liu), Zhongshan (1989, no. 4), p. 151.55about many people who are still living proves they have alreadydied. 14As a result, Yu Hua often engages in lengthy descriptions of evoked memories and is notalways clear in separating them from the immediacies of the story.The importance of memory, not so much the memories of emotions andplaces far away, but, rather, the memories that we draw upon to classify what we see, isalluded to in this whimsical scene from "Summer Typhoons" in which a child has beengiven a pair of paper glasses that block his vision:The paper blocked the child's eyes."I can't see anything.""How can that be?" asked Zhong Qimin. "Take your glasses off;careful now. Look to the left. What do you see?""A cupboard.""And?""A table.""Look to the right, what's there?""A bed.""And in front of you?""You.""If I leave, then what?""A chair.""Great, now put the glasses on again."The child put the paper glasses on."Look to the left. What's there?""A cupboard and a table."14 Yu Hua, "Wode zhenshi" (My reality), Renrnin wenxue (1989, no. 3), p. 107.56"To the left?""A bed.""What's in front of you?""You and a chair."Thong Qimin asked, "Now can you see?"The child replied, "I can see."15Another, more novel way in which sounds are described by Yu Hua is throughtheir embodiment. They are described as, or compared to, things with visible form. To theBlind Man, 4's cries feel like, "...countless particles of dust were falling into his ears oneafter another." [p. 90] In Yu Hua's fiction, sounds take on all manner of forms. Forexample, in "The Affairs of the World Are Like Smoke" crying is described as follows,"... the shrill sound of 3's crying curled about this little town like smoke." [p. 63, 64]The sound of crying is also embodied in "Summer Typhoons": "...sound of crying filledthe sky like fluttering banners."16 In the story "Inescapable Calamities" [Nantao jieshu] itis the sound of laughter that takes on form: "...Lu Zhu seemed to hear her father's cough-like laughter. The sound of his laughter materialized just like dust falling down from theroof."17In the following passage, sound is first described almost as if it had a form, andthen the standard "rules" of evocation and simile are played with:Lu Thu could dimly see that Dong Shan's lips were just like amotor in motion. Twisted, deformed sounds were coming out fromthere, ... She heard the sound of some sparrows smashing up againstthe windowpane. This sound completely smashed the flow of words15 Yu Hua, "Xiaji tafeng" (Summer typhoons), p. 17.16 Ibid., p. 22.17 Yu Hua, "Nantao jieshu" (Inescapable calamities), Shouhuo (1988, no. 6), p. 70.57pouring forth from Dong Shan. She knew that was her father's voice;Father was chuckling away to himself.18What possible link could there be between sparrows smashing into a window and thesound of laughter? Perhaps the two sounds are similarly startling, but the comparison isundoubtedly an unusual metaphor. It thus serves to underscore the unusual nature of thesituation and of the world of the story.This kind of toying with metaphor and purposely playing with language to createjarring effects is an important part of Yu Hua's undermining of expectations and describingthe world as he sees it (or wants his readers to see it).19 An even stranger example, inwhich sounds are described as being pickled [yan], can be found in "This Story isDedicated to the Young Woman Yang Liu": "...two women started chatting away, bothusing a End of pickled voice. The laughter interspersed throughout their conversation waslike two slabs of dried fish smacking together."2°In addition to his use of different methods of description, such as those describedabove, and such techniques as limiting description to one sense alone, Yu Hua usesdifferent modes of perception. In other words, his narrators and his characters often aremade to perceive things in a manner other than we would expect. They may, in fact, not bephysically limited in their perception or be resorting to any unusual metaphors to describewhat they see, but may simply see differently. The most clear example of this is what wasreferred to earlier as "naive perception." In this mode, commonplace things are seen as• unusual, new, or even shocking because they are not immediately recognized and classifiedand are, thus, not dealt with in the way that we usually deal with familiar patterns. Usingthis mode of perception, in "The April Third Incident" a key is first described as a"... cold,18 Ibid., p. 66.19 There are antecedents of this in classical Chinese poetry. See Han Yu or HuangTingjian, for example.20 Yu Hua, "Ci wen xiangei shaonii Yang Liu" (This story is dedicated to the youngwoman Yang Liu), p. 129.58metallic feeling."21 Generally speaking, in such passages in order to achieve an effect,things are first described and then, a while afterwards, identified. For example, in "TheApril Third Incident": "He could only feel that there was a hot yellowness outside thewindow. 'That's sunlight,' he thought to himself." 22 and in "This Story is Dedicated tothe Young Woman Yang Liu": "Behind me someone emitted a sound made up of threesyllables. This sound obviously represented someone's name."23Other related modes of perception are also used in many of Yu Hua's stories.Perhaps the most common such mode is "negative space description," where things aredescribed by their shadows or by the space that they do not take up. It has already beenmentioned how in "The Affairs of the World Are Like Smoke" characters are described inrelation to their shadows. This occurs in other stories too. The following scene in"Inescapable Calamities" is a good example of this: "...He had seemingly forgotten allabout Lu Zhu's existence. He was only vaguely aware that beside him there was a shadowon the wall."24Another mode of perception, which is also a form of naive description, is whatcould be called "disconnection." In this mode of perception, causal links are notimmediately made. For example, in "The Affairs of the World Are Like Smoke,""...Driver saw that an old piece of clothing had covered the purple liquid. The clothingstarted to move. On top of the piece of clothing there was one of 2's hands."[p. 66] Thisdescription temporarily abandons normal logic by not making the obvious link between thehand and the moving piece of clothing immediately explicit. A more extreme exampleoccurs in "Summer Typhoons" :21 Yu Hua, "Siyue sanri shijian" (The April Third incident), in Yu Hua, Shiba sui chumen yuan zing (Leaving home and travelling afar at eighteen) (Beijing, Zuojiachubanshe, 1989), p. 141.22 Ibid, p. 141.23 Yu Hua, "Ci wen xiangei shaonii Yang Liu" (This story is dedicated to the youngwoman Yang Liu), p. 129.24 Yu Hua, "Nantao jieshu" (Inescapable calamities), p. 70.59"She heard a kind of really crisp, really clear sound and she figuredhe'd boxed her ear. She guessed that she was smashing into the doorwith her head."25This kind of perceptual mode although unusual in both fiction and real life, does, in fact,partially mirror the way in which we sometimes see things when very tired, drunk orinvolved in a horrible accident Personal experience leads me to believe that the cliché ofhaving the feeling that time is standing still and that one is watching the scene from theoutside during an accident is more than just a cliché. In this sense, it is part of Yu Hua'sself-proclaimed goal of approaching reality and it also serves the purpose of forcing aseeing anew, however brief, by breaking conventions.Practically every strange mode of description has its parallel in some real-life modeof perception and, as a result, is potentially realist. Postmodernist literature does notentirely abandon realist techniques. In the case of magic realism, for example, the authorundermines the conventions of traditional realism while, at the same time, making use ofthe effects of realist description. Yu Hua's use of different modes of description andperception is similar.Language and metaphor — breaking past the commonplaceNovel imagery and inventive metaphors are very much a part of Yu Hua's use ofdifferent modes of perception. By describing things as he does in the preceding scenes,Yu Hua expands both the use of language and the imagination. In "False' Works," hefirmly stresses the value of the free play of imagination and criticizes the over-reliance oncommonsense views of the world, writing that: "As a result, [of being limited to 'seekingtruth from facts' shishi qiu shi] our literature has only been able to pass its time inunimaginative old shacks." [p. 6] This affirmation of the value of imagination for its own25 Yu Hua, "Xiaji taifeng" (Summer typhoons), p. 19.60sake is a very radical thing in a Chinese context. Certainly much Chinese literature hasbeen highly imaginative. However, there has been a tendency to see serious literature asbeing far more concerned with social and moral questions than with imagination. This hasbeen particularly true during the last 70 years, and, as I have already discussed, there is anadditional partiality for the "realistic" among Chinese readers. When writing about hisfictional technique, Yu Hua does not, in fact, fully reject this discourse. He works withinthis framework and justifies his unconventional approach as necessary as a means of betterapproaching reality. For example, he writes that rejecting "the order and logic supplied bythe immediate world" allows him to "freely approach the truth." [p. 7]Similarly, with regard to language, he writes that:For the sake of true expression, language must break throughcommon sense and seek a mode of expression that is able tosimultaneously express many possibilities and layers and that,moreover, with respect to grammar, is able to dismiss, twist, topple,and otherwise not be restrained by the order set out by grammar. [p.16]This passage indicates the degree to which Yu Hua desires to reject conventional modes ofexpression.In an article on Yu Hua, the Chinese literary critic Li Tuo calls this kind of process"language liberation" [yuyan de jiefang] and sees it as being part of the new generation'sattempt to overthrow "Maospeak" [Mao wenti] the orthodox, limited, doctrinaire languageof both Chinese socialist realism and Chinese political writings and create a new way ofexpressing themselves.26 Writing about Yu Hua, Ye Zhaoyan, Ge Fei, Sun Ganlu, andothers, he even goes so far as to state that:26 Li Tuo,"Xuebeng hezai?" (Where is the avalanche?), preface to Yu Hua, Shiba sui chumen yuan xing (Leaving home and travelling afar at eighteen), Taibei: Yuanliu chubangongsi, 1990, pp. 12-14.61What is most important about their literary movement is not theirattitude towards reality, but, rather, their attitude towards language.Writing in this way cannot help but deeply influence the modemChinese language.27However, these writers are not popular outside of limited circles, and it seems likely thatpop-culture figures such as Wang Shuo will have far more real impact on the modernChinese language.Obviously, any kind of description, be it novel or commonplace, relies onlanguage. One could even go further and say that description relies upon metaphor, in thesense that perception and the description of it rely on contrast and comparison. Somethingis perceived by comparison either with its surroundings or with memories of pastperceptions. As part of his "language liberation," Yu Hua often resorts to highly jarring orincongruous metaphors. In doing so, he smashes linguistic and stylistic expectations andalso creates more memorable, more interesting imagery. In some cases the metaphors aredownright disgusting: "...the colour of her [a bride at a wedding] face was red tending toblack, as if plastered with pig's blood... "28 The woman who is described in this quote isugly, both physically and spiritually, and this ugly image reinforces our awareness of this.This metaphor seems out of place in the context of a wedding, but the comparison betweena flushed face and a blood-covered face in not inherently incongruous.Many of Yu Hua's more shocking metaphors, however, derive much of their shockvalue not only from being out of place but also from their internal incongruity. Inmetaphors with internal incongruities the comparison itself is bizarre and causes one to stopThis expansive topic would be well worth exploring in further detail, quoting fromliterature and political documents from the Maoist years and then showing the long-termeffects of this kind of language on writers in the post-Mao era, especially throughcomparisons with pre-revolutionary vernacular and the vernacular of modern Taiwan.27 Li Tuo,"Xuebeng hezai?" (Where is the avalanche?), p. 13.28 Yu Hua, "Nantao jieshu" (Inescapable calamities), Shouhuo (1988, no. 6), p. 67.62in one's reading and think : "What would that look like!?" For example, a waterloggedcorpse is described as follows: " was like the features on his face had been built up bychildren playing with building blocks."29 Perhaps this will become more clear when wefirst examine a normal simile used to describe a smile and then examine a moreincongruous one. For example, "...His [Master Fortune-teller's] smile made 4's fatherfeel like it had been cut in with a knife." [p. 88] is somewhat unusual, but one easilyvisualizes a thin, terse smile. However, what is one to make of: "The smile on his facewas like a rotten apple..."?3°Lest one get the impression that Yu Hua is humourless and only concerned withshock value or describing the disgusting, it should be noted that incongruous metaphorscan be used to humorous effect. As has already been noted in the discussion on blackhumour, the unexpected and out of place can be quite funny. For example: "...Lu Zhuadopted the posture of a mail box and sat in the window. .."31 or "All the friends hadcome, and they were just like a pile of garbage on top of Dong Shan's wedding."32 Whenin the middle of this same wedding, the couple being married is so overcome with lust thatthey run off to an adjoining bedroom and start having sex, and the sound of them on thebed is described as "...much like the sound of brushing one's teeth."33 In an inventivescene in "Summer Typhoons" Yu Hua uses language metaphors and plays witheuphemism:Her body lay down, and those two hands started to speak to herclothes. That body rose up and lay on top of her body. One bodywas using stale clichés to call out to the other body. ...Somethingentered into her body. She ought to be able to remember. The words29 Yu Hua, "Xiaji taifeng" (Summer typhoons), p. 22.30 Yu Hua, "Nantao jieshu" (Inescapable calamities), p. 68.31 Ibid., p. 65.32 Ibid., p. 67.33 Ibid., p. 67.63were familiar, a sentence that never tired of being used again and againentered her body...34Narrative contradiction in "This Story is Dedicated to the Young Woman Yang Liu" Yu Hua also uses narrative contradictions, unreliable narrators, and other tools toplay with the conventions of literary and narrative reality and to undermine the concept ofone truth/one reality by creating many simultaneous realities. This is particularly evident in"This Story is Dedicated to the Young Woman Yang Liu."In this story Yu Hua experiments with time, memory, and narrative truth. This isthe story of the first-person narrator, a man who greatly fears interaction with the commonrabble and who lives in a house by the river in a town called the Little Town of Smoke[Xiao cheng yan], a clear reference to the ephemeral nature of reality in this story.The plot is quite complex and contradictory, but among the stories presented is thatof Yang Liu. An unusual companion enters the first-person narrator's life one night.Perhaps she is a figment of his imagination, a reification of a memory, or some ghostlikeapparition. It is not entirely clear. She sits by the window and watches the river. Afterhaving an argument with her about her ceaseless pacing at night, the narrator meets hergaze and begins to make out her previously invisible features and then begins to cry. Hecontinues crying for an extremely long time and starts to go blind. As his blindnessincreases, her form becomes temporarily clearer. Finally, after his tears have stopped, hedecides that he is happy with her and that he must go and buy some curtains so that theycan cover the windows and begin their new life together. His vision is so impaired,however, that on the way to buy curtains, he gets into an accident and finds himself in thehospital. When he recovers from his injuries, he is moved to a hospital in Shanghai where34 Yu Hua, "Xiaji taifeng" (Summer typhoons), p. 27.64he receives a cornea transplant which, according to a nurse, was from a young womancalled Yang Liu who had died of leukemia not long ago in the same hospital. His vision isrestored and he returns to the Little Town of Smoke. Years later, he comes across a pieceof paper on which he had written down the address of Yang Liu's family. He goes to herold home in the residential district of his town and meets her father, who informs him thatYang Liu had never been to Shanghai and had died at home in her sleep some time after astrange ethereal man began visiting her. Her father notes that the narrator's gaze is similarto his daughter's. The narrator sees her photograph and recognizes her as his spiritcompanion. She had drawn a picture of the ethereal man who had been visiting her, and atthe very end of the story, the narrator notices that his alter ego, the Man from out of Town,looks just like this picture.Earlier, the story of Yang Liu and this man also had been presented. He had alsobeen visited by an invisible female companion, become obsessed with trying to recreate herimage on paper, and gradually lost his sight. He, too, had ended up in a hospital inShanghai and had received Yang Liu's corneas. This time, however, she had supposedlydied in a car crash. This story is both recounted to the first-person narrator by the Manfrom out of Town and narrated in part by an unknown narrator in a separate and evenearlier passage.The most important thing to note when examining this story further is the degree towhich contradiction and coincidence are present and to which the normal logic of time iserased. Much of this leads one to think that this whole story is all a case of confusedmemories colliding, but it is not easy to make sense of it all.In contrast to the imprecision in representing reality in this story, precise dates(which link the story to the outside world shared by us all) are used throughout. The dateof the first person narrator's operation remain constant throughout and match the datesgiven for the Man from out of Town's operation. What remains quite unclear is the realdate of the narratorial present at any given time. For example, near the beginning reference65is made to "May 8, 1988, that day" as if it were in the past.35 Slightly later, however,when the Man from out of Town argues with the narrator about when ten years ago was,he says that it was 1988, but the narrator claims that 1988 is the present. [p. 1141 It isimportant to note that the narrator visits Yang Liu's father ten years after his accident andthat the Man from out of Town recounts the story of his cornea transplant before thenarrator has received his.Closely connected to this is the fact that, in a sense, the Man from out of Town isthe first person narrator's alter ego (perhaps the narrator in a different time or differentreality). For example:At this time we both stepped up onto the sidewalk. He [the Man fromout of Town] started to calmly walk forward. His calmness made memost satisfied with the way I was walking. He walked ahead using amost ordinary way of carrying himself. That was exactly the way I'dacted every time I'd gone out in the past. He walked this way so thathe'd blend in with the crowd. His method of concealing himself wasexactly the same as mine...He stopped his walking in front of a house by the side of the river.He took a golden yellow key out of his right pocket. In my rightpocket I also had a golden yellow key. He opened that door and wentin. When he closed the door, he seemed most careful, and the soundwas the sound I'd made in the past whenever I'd left my house. But Ididn't go into this house by the side of the river... [p. 130]However, strangely enough, in a separate scene (when he is returning from thehospital) the narrator is described as sitting in the same row on the bus as someone whose35 Yu Hua, "Ci wen xiangei shaonii Yang Liu" (This story is dedicated to the youngwoman Yang Liu), p. 111. Until the end of this chapter, all page numbers given in thetext will refer to this source.66actions match those described earlier by the Man from out of Town as his own. [pp. 118,119, 134] Coincidentally, in this scene the narrator notices that the seat number of theyoung man whom we recognize as the Man from out of Town is 26, the same as the streetnumber in Yang Liu's address. [p. 148] In other scenes, the Man from out of Town alsotalks to the narrator as if he were an entirely separate person. [For example, p. 134]Extremely paradoxical descriptions are given in the scenes where the first-personnarrator is with the female apparition that he later discovers looks like Yang Liu:...right now she was in the kitchen making breakfast for me. Icompletely ignored the fact that I had no kitchen. Even though Iunderstood this, I really couldn't say that I had no kitchen because shewas in the kitchen. [p. 1251Shortly after gaining this virtual kitchen, he loses his curtains: "When I pulled open thecurtains, I realized that I hadn't any curtains." [p. 125] Even stranger, he notices that shehas a disembodied gaze: "Although I still couldn't really see her eyes, her gaze was alreadyas clear as could be..." [p. 126]What really happened? Well, it is possible that these are all the confused andrepressed memories of a deceased lover embodied by Yang Liu and jumbled up in thenarrator's head... but it is not clear. In fact, there is no "really happened." This kind ofambiguity, on the one hand, represents the confusion of life and of memory (a place wheredifferent times exist simultaneously and incompletely) and undermines the convention ofhaving a single ascertainable narrative truth.67Chapter 3Yu Hua and the use of traditionIf we define tradition, as the Concise Oxford English Dictionary does, as being,"artistic or literary principle(s) based on accumulated experience or continuous usage," thenshowing that Yu Hua uses elements of tradition is rather trivial indeed. By writing in alanguage not of his own making, Chinese, Yu Hua of necessity refers to a linguistictradition. Obviously, no writer that hopes to be at all intelligible can do otherwise.I shall not bother to further prove that which is self-evident, but instead will focuson which aspects of pre-modern Chinese literary forms and thought are referred to in YuHua's fiction and on how they are used. Additionally, it will be shown that a number ofthe postmodernist themes and techniques discussed previously, while not necessarilyoriginating in Chinese tradition, do have parallels there. For the sake of discussion, "pre-modern" will be defined as before the end of the Qing Dynasty (i.e, before 1911). Beforebeginning this exploration, it is worth briefly examining the role of anti-traditionalism andthe use of tradition in Chinese literature of this century and reiterating the connectionbetween the use of tradition and postmodernist literature.Twentieth Century Chinese literature and antitraditionalism Breaking up Chinese literature into the artificially monolithic categories of"traditional" and "modern" may seem to be a highly arbitrary thing to do. However, thisdichotomy stems from a reality of Chinese literary history: most writers of "serious" fictionin China after 1919 saw themselves as being intrinsically different from and even opposedto the writers that had come before. In the early years of this century, a consciousmovement to reform literature in China began. In 1917 Hu Shi published his "SomeTentative Suggestions for the Reform of Chinese Literature" [Wenxue gailiang chuyi] in68which, among other things, he suggested a variety of ways to rejuvenate Chinese literatureand get beyond what he saw as stale, cliched forms.1 This was followed by a number ofrelated articles by himself and others. The so-called "literary revolution" had begun. Thisaspect of the iconoclastic movement generally known as the May Fourth Movementinitiated enormous changes in the Chinese literary scene.In the years that followed, the modern vernacular replaced the classical language asthe language of serious literature, traditional literary forms and genres were largelysupplanted by new Western forms (particularly the realist short story), and the ideologicaland stylistic gulf between the writers of the day and what had come before widened. Thisis not to suggest, however, that no writers during this period made explicit use of Chineseliterary tradition (see, for example, Zhang Ailing's "The Golden Cangue" [Jinsuo ji] and itsuse of the Qing novel The Dream of the Red Chamber [Honglou meng]) but rather that thetrend in serious literature was away from that direction.It is also not clear how fully removed from the tradition this whole process ofantitraditionalism was. Some have also pointed to the paradox inherent in the iconoclasmof the May Fourth Movement and claimed that "totalistic iconoclasm" and the belief in theprimacy of cultural change had their origins in Chinese traditional thought.2In the years immediately following the communist revolution of 1949, the gulfbetween the literature of the day and the literature of even a hundred years ago becamegreater still. A foreign brand of literature, socialist realism, held sway, and during theCultural Revolution [1966-1976] there were numerous attempts to wipe out the lastvestiges of Chinese tradition. Anything old was "feudal" (fengjian] and, hence, bad. Thenotion that one could incorporate aspects of classical fiction in one's writing as a means of1 Hu Shi, "Wenxue gailiang chuyi" (Some tentative suggestions for the reform of Chineseliterature),Xin qingnian (1917, no. 1).2 Lin Yii-sheng, The Crisis of Chinese Consciousness — Radical Antitraditonalism in theMay Fourth Era (University of Wisconsin Press, 1979).69enrichment was simply not entertained. After 1976 this anti-traditionalist bias slowlylessened, but immediate post-Mao literature was very much concerned with the realistdepiction of events in the post-revolutionary past and, for the most part, did not lookfurther back. However, around the middle of the eighties, some writers, such as HanShaogong and Ah Cheng, loosely described as nativist [xiangtu] or as part of the "searchfor roots school" [xungenpai] began to look to Chinese tradition, peasants, and ethnicminorities for the origins of both the good and the bad in Chinese society. Somewhat morerecently, other younger writers such as Yu Hua, Su Tong, and Ye Zhaoyan have started tomake greater use of words and phrasing from early vernacular and classical Chinese andhave looked to a variety of pre-modern Chinese literary forms for inspiration.3Tradition in postmodernist literatureEarlier, reference was made to the importance of the parodic reincorporation ofelements of tradition in postmodemist literature. The following passage by Linda Hutcheonwas also cited: "... most of these postmodern contradictory texts are also specificallyparodic in their intertextual relation to the traditions and conventions of the genres involved.When Eliot recalled Dante or Virgil in The Wasteland, one sensed a kind of wishful call tocontinuity beneath the fragmented echoing. It is precisely this that is contested inpostmodern parody where it is often ironic discontinuity that is revealed at the heart ofcontinuity, difference at the heart of similarity."4In the context of Yu Hua's fiction, if not in all postmodernist literature, it isperhaps better to see this discontinuity not as a gap but, rather, as a sharp change inalignment. In mathematics, it is possible for a function to produce a connected line that3 See, for example, Su Tong, "Qiqie cheng qun" (Wives and concubines),Shouhuo(1989, no. 6).4 Linda Hutcheon, A Theory of Parody: The Teachings of Twentieth Century Art Forms(Methuen, 1985) cited in Linda Hutcheon, A Poetics of Postmodernism — History,Theory, Fiction (Routledge,1988), p. 11.70owing to sharp changes in direction would be considered discontinuous by themathematical definition of continuity. Furthermore, it is not always clear whether thisdiscontinuity is being revealed or created. Yu Hua uses many forms of Chinese tradition,ranging from images, symbols, literary genres and norms, and religious and philosophicalconcepts. Sometimes, he does indeed engage in the clear negation of norms, but in manyother cases he simply uses these elements in new and redirected ways that do notnecessarily imply complete negation or conceptual gaps. "The Affairs of the World AreLike Smoke" provides the most extended and clear example of the use of and reference toelements of tradition in often radically redirected ways."The Affairs of the World Are Like Smoke" – reincorporation beyond the frameworkThe river as the symbol of "the stream of life" and of the course of fate isintroduced very early in the story. The first part of the first chapter introduces this symboland, in traditional Chinese storytelling fashion, foreshadows much of what is to come.This is particularly evident in the following passage: "A young girl died. Her corpse lay inthe mud. A young girl went insane. Her body turned ethereal. From start to finish MasterFortune-teller sat in that dark room, seemingly foreseeing all — the shwa shwa sound of anarrow river flowing in the mist, a peach tree blossoming forth in brilliant pink on theriverbank."5 Much later in the story, 6's daughter is found lying dead on the riverbank bya peach tree. 4 drowns herself in the river and the story ends with 4 and the Blind Man'sbodies resurfacing and with a description of, "... a peach tree blossoming forth in brilliantpink on the riverbank."6The river is an apt metaphor for fate and for life because it can be both the source oflife and death (e.g., floods) and it, like the passage of time and the passing away of life5 Yu Hua, "The Affairs of the World Are Like Smoke," pp. 44, 45.6 Ibid., p. 106.71energies (the prevention of which is the prime obsession of Master Fortune-teller) flows oninexorably, guided by its banks. This is reiterated in a vision that Midwife has after hervisit to the spirit world and shortly before her death: "Afterwards, she saw a river. As ifsolidified, the waters of the river were neither churning nor tossing. Some people andvehicles were floating on the river. She also saw a road, but the road was flowing and onit a few boats were sailing. The sails raised by these boats looked just like ragged feathersstuck in there."7 In this vision, the symbol of the river is combined with a bizarre reversalof reality to show the topsy-turvy nature of Midwife's world. The road flows like a riverand the river is like a road. Nothing is as it ought to be (or perhaps there is even no "oughtto be") yet, on the other hand, this state of affairs is linked with a symbol of fate, the river.Perhaps the implication is that the world is fated to be filled with suffering.The final scene, in which 4 drowns herself in the river, completes what has beenpredestined. First, leaning against a wutong tree (a Chinese parasol tree) she strips herselfnaked in a scene which is described in a manner highly reminiscent of the scene in whichshe is stripped naked by Master Fortune-teller. The wutong tree, "is regarded as the tree parexcellence, favoured by the phoenix when it wishes to alight."8 The phoenix is oftenmetaphorically associated with those possessed of divine virtue.9 She then enters thewater, which for her is comfortable, "... making her feel as if she were putting on a newpiece of clothing ,"10 and so this phoenix, this girl drowns. Significantly, her body laterfloats to the surface near a peach tree in full bloom. The peach is the symbol of longevityand immortality. Master Fortune-teller has earlier drained life energy from her so as toextend his own life. In another sense, peach blossoms also evoke memories of Tao7 Ibid., p. 95.8 Wolfram Eberhard, A Dictionary of Chinese Symbols (Routledge and Kegan Paul,1986), p. 316.9 Ci Hai (Ocean of words) (Shanghai cishu chubanshe, 1989), vol.1, p. 899.10 Yu Hua, "The Affairs of the World Are Like Smoke," p. 105.72Yuamning's tale of utopia, "Peach Blossom Spring" [Taohua yuan], perhaps pointing to4's escape from the cares of this cruel world.The fact that the outcome is predicted in the very beginning and that the storymerely serves to display the unfolding of what was fated both emphasizes the futility ofexistence and structurally replicates many traditional Chinese stories. In much of traditionalfiction, a chapter or story would begin with a poem which would outline or, at least, alludeto certain aspects of what was to come. Moreover, the similarities by no means end there.In "The Affairs of the World Are Like Smoke," Yu Hua draws heavily upon the Chinesetradition of stories of the supernatural and fantastic. The stories of the zhiguai genre thatflourished during the Six Dynasties period (A. D. 222-589) provided many of the basicelements of Chinese fantastic fiction and exerted unquestionable influence over laterwriters. Many of the important phenomena described in the zhiguai and later genres are tobe found in "The Affairs of the World Are Like Smoke."In the introduction to his work Classical Chinese Tales of the Supernatural and theFantastic, Karl S. Y. Kao provides a typology of the phenomena found in zhiguai fiction:1. Portents and augury...2. Necromantic communion: manifestations of ghosts and spirits andpneumatological communication.3. Animistic phenomena: manifestations of animal transformationsand transformations of the inanimate objects of nature...4. Communion with transcendent beings...5. Thaumaturgic phenomena: manifestations of magic feats andtransformations associated with fan gshi and Taoist magicians.6. Retributive phenomena... 1111 Karl S. Y. Kao, ed., Classical Chinese Tales of the Supernatural and the Fantastic(Indiana University Press, 1985), p. 5.73Practically all of these classes of phenomena are represented in "The Affairs of theWorld Are Like Smoke." The first category includes premonitory dreams, and such arefound in this story. Driver's dream about the Woman-in-Grey is a clear example of this.The fish-eating ghosts obviously fall into category two. Hemp is temporarily transformedinto noodles by these ghosts and fed to Midwife. This falls into the third category. Thefifth category is represented by Master Fortune-teller and his life-extending methods andpursuit of immortality. This human obsession probably sees its fullest pre-modernexpression in Chinese religious Daoism and alchemy, and Yu Hua's negativerepresentation of it is a clear reference to tradition.Kao also points out that, "... a marriage between a human and the spirit of a deadperson (involving an after-life sexual union) and the transmission of a message from theworld beyond to the human world through dreams are the most frequently encounteredsituations in zhiguai tales."12 The visits from the afterworld by Driver's spirit in thedreams of his mother and, later, 2 are clear examples of the second situation, and theoutcome of these visits, the marriage of the ashes of 6's daughter to the ashes of Driver, isbut a modification of the firstYu Hua, however, does far more than simply incorporate and vivify these elementsof traditional fiction in a story of a similar type. He is not just writing another story in thesame vein but is, rather, subverting the tradition as he uses it. Most of the traditionalChinese tales of the supernatural and fantastic are mundanely reassuring in theirreaffirmation of the order of things. It may be an order of things based on Buddhism,Confucianism, Daoism or some syncretic combination but it is, nonetheless, an order ofthings. Furthermore, in keeping with their origins in Chinese historiography the traditionaltales are often quite moralistic in tone. At the very least, they proffer some small kernel ofsupposed wisdom. In "The Affairs of the World Are Like Smoke" any order that there12 Ibid., p. 8.74may be is consistently obscured by the purposeful blurring of the lines between illusion andreality. This confusing world is described as being incredibly cruel and basicallymeaningless. There is, in a sense, an order of things in the structure of predestinationcontained in the story but it is a strangely arbitrary order. There are no reasons given oreven hinted at for the existence of suffering in this life other than the inherent cruelty of thisworld. It just is that way.One could see "The Affairs of the World are like Smoke" as being, in a sense, acautionary tale about the dangers of believing in soothsayers and their ilk (allegoricallyrepresenting Mao Zedong or the Chinese Communist Party, perhaps). However, there is aprofound lack of clarity in this regard. Is Master Fortune-teller purely a charlatan? Hisadvice to Driver turns out to be basically correct. Driver is warned that he has one foot inthe grave and that in order to avert death he should always stop his truck immediatelyshould he see a woman wearing grey. He fails to do so, and he does die. 7 is told byMaster Fortune-teller that in order to cure his chronic illness he should give up his son.The reader knows that this is just a trick on the part of Master Fortune-teller so that he canget another son to extend his own life. Yet after 7's son leaves, 7's illness does indeedimprove (only to be replaced by deep depression, however).In addition to this profound lack of clarity, there is a strangely skewed sense ofretribution. For example, Kao writes that, "... the working of retribution often takes theform of a good turn done to a supernatural being by a human who is later rewardedunexpectedly for what he did."13 Midwife's only reward for helping the ghost mothergive birth is sickness and death. In contrast, retribution is not forthcoming for evildoerssuch as Master Fortune-teller. It is not even hinted at as a possibility, and all information inthe story points to Master Fortune-teller continuing to extend his life and ruin the lives ofothers. All of this is consonant with the postmodernist undermining of the belief in13 Ibid., p. 11.75underlying meaning in life and is a radical departure from modern Chinese literature ofsocial concerns as well as classical Chinese fiction.However, the negation of traditional concepts is by no means complete. Thedescription of the destruction of beauty in this story is disturbing and sad. Hence, there isan underlying assumption that there is indeed beauty and that it is of value. Similarly, if thestory truly succeeds in destroying the belief in the value of justice, order, and life itself,than it destroys its effect. If the reader does not believe that there should be some meaningin life, then this story is neither disturbing nor even particularly interesting.Yu Hua's use of traditional literary forms, imagery, and symbolism in this storyacts both as a reference to the roots of Chinese culture (and, hence, despite the often radicalchange of perspective, to a certain connection to the past) and as a form of enrichment.However, unlike "Fresh Blood Plum Blossoms" [Xianxue meihua], this story does notfocus on a single aspect of traditional thought nor on a single genre."Fresh Blood Plum Blossoms" — turning a genre on its head Knight-errant fiction (wuxia xiaoshuo) has a very long history in China. Thisgenre in narrative fiction dates from the Tang dynasty, when many of the prototypicalknight-errant stories first appeared in the form of short stories written in the classicallanguage. Stories of this and related genres have continued to be written until the presentday (particularly in Hong Kong and Taiwan) and are an important part of Chinese popularculture. In an article on the depiction of the knight errant, Y. W. Ma writes:The Chinese knight-errant catches our fancy as a man of atypicalprowess (regardless of his outward build), fascinatingly skilled in theuse of arms and equally adept in hand to hand combat, one whowould enlist, rarely with second thoughts, his physical strength , andsometimes financial resources as well, to right wrongs for the poor or76oppressed with whom he may not have any previous connections atall. 14For the sake of this discussion, the following, more inclusive definition will suffice:knight-errant stories are those stories concerned with the deeds of men and sometimeswomen with exceptional martial prowess (sometimes accentuated or even replaced withmagical abilities) who often, but not always, fight on behalf of the powerless anddowntrodden.Yu Hua's short story "Fresh Blood Plum Blossoms" is essentially an anti-knighterrant story. In this story, he sets up a variety of false expectations both through initiallyadopting many of the conventions of the wuxia genre and through false foreshadowingand then proceeds to disappoint them all."Fresh Blood Plum Blossoms" is the story of a young man, Ruan Haikuo, and hisquest to avenge his father's death. Fifteen years ago, when Ruan Haikuo was still a child,his father, a renowned knight errant, was mysteriously killed in the night. His body waslater discovered with daggers stuck in his eyes. When Ruan Haikuo comes of age, hismother gives him his father's magic sword, Plum Blossom, a sword that is described in anarrative aside as follows:If the Plum Blossom Sword should become covered in blood, oneneed only lightly shake it and blood will whirl away from the bladelike snowflakes. All that will be left is a single drop that will remainon the sword forever and will take the form of a miniature plumblossom.1514 Y. W. Ma, "The Chinese Knight-Errant in Hua-Pen Stories,"T' oung Pao (vol. LXI,4-5), p. 269.15 Yu Hua, "Xianxue meihua" (Fresh blood plum blossoms),Renmin wenxue (1989, no.3), p. 62. Magic weapons are indeed quite common in wuxia stories. See, forexample, "Governor Zheng Accomplishes a Great Service with a Mighty Bow" [Zhengjieshi ligong shen bigong] from Feng Menglong's anthology Xingshi hengyan (Lasting77She then tells him that in order to discover who killed his father, he should ask either theDaoist Master of the Azure Clouds [Qingyun Daozhang] or the warrior Bai Yuxiao, andthat he must avenge his father. She sets fire to herself and her home, and her son sets outon his quest. The revenge quest is very much a part of the tradition, and many knight-errant stories deal with exacting revenge.16In his search, he wanders far and wide and meets Madame Rouge [Yanzhi nil], aheavily made-up woman whose body is covered in a powder so poisonous that merelystanding near her will cause one to drop dead, and Black Needle [Heizhen Daxia], anexpert at creating darkness through magical means. Madame Rouge wants the protagonistto ask the Master of the Azure Clouds about the whereabouts of Liu Tian, and BlackNeedle wants him to ask about the location of Li Dong. Ruan Hailcuo wanders aimlesslyfor a long time and finally comes across Bai Yuxiao. However, Ruan Haikuo fails torecognize him, and when Bai Yuxiao asks him who he is looking for, he can only think ofthe Master of the Azure Clouds and, thus, misses this opportunity. Later, he meets up withthe Master of the Azure Clouds and asks about the whereabouts of Liu Tian and Li Dong,but then, before he has a chance to ask about who killed his father, the Master of the AzureClouds says that he will answer only two questions and then leaves. Ruan Hailcuowanders and wanders and eventually meets up with Black Needle and Madame Rouge andrelays the answers to their questions. Finally, he meets Bai Yuxiao again and asks whokilled his father. Bai Yuxiao tells him that Liu Tian and Li Dong killed his father, but thathe need not worry about them because they have already been taken care of by MadameRouge and Black Needle. The protagonist has failed to personally exact revenge or even towords to awaken the world), first published in 1627. This story is discussed in Y. W.Ma, pp. 279, 280.16 See, for example, "Woman Warrior" [Xia nil] from Pu Songling's Liaozhai zhiyi(Tales of the unusual from the leisure studio) (Taibei: Yiwen yinshuguan, 1956), pp.58-61. In this short story a woman avenges her father by killing a man who had falselyaccused her father and thus caused him to be executed.78actively cause it to come about and thus, following the code of honour of the genre, he hasfailed.The two things about this story that first strike the reader are that there is practicallyno action (or, more precisely, all the action is described peripherally) and that almosteverything that does happen seems to happen entirely because of coincidence. Fortunately,this story is quite short (only seven double column pages) or else it would be unbearablydull. Most of the story is taken up with repetitive descriptions of the protagonist's randomwandering.In most knight-errant stories much emphasis is given to the description of action,particularly fight scenes, and to their gory aftermath. In "Fresh Blood Plum Blossoms"events typical to the genre do indeed occur: old enemies return for a battle with a greatswordsman (Ruan Haikuo's father) and warriors with supernatural powers vanquish theirfoes. However, these incidents are related indirectly, the protagonist is never part of them,and the description remains highly removed. For example, all that we know of the -protagonist's father's death is related through these disjointed images and vaguerememberings:...[his father's death] was the vague happening of some fifteen yearsago. In the memories of Ruan Jinwu's son, Ruan Haikuo, fromwhen he was five, the sky was filled with bloodied leaves flutteringabout......she [his mother] had already had a vague premonition about animage of her husband lying in the sunlight. Fifteen years ago, on thatquiet morning, that scene came true to life. Ruan Jinwu was lying onhis back in that bunch of yellowed grass with his limbs spread outsignifying a kind of helplessness. From his eyes a pair of black-handled daggers jutted out. A few leaves that had fallen from adesolate tree by his side fluttered about his head; the leaves were79covered with fresh blood. Afterwards, she saw her son, RuanHaikuo, pick up those leaves. 17However, this description does serve to create a sense of mystery and aids inestablishing a typical quest. It is in the description of the deaths of his father's killers thatthe conventions of the genre are most fully negated:After Bai Yuxiao heard this, he once again smiled ever so slightly andtold him [the protagonist], "There were two people responsible foryour father's death, one called Liu Tian and one called Li Dong.Three years ago on the way to Mount Hua they died at the hands ofMadame Rouge and Black Needle, respectively." [p. 69]This is the totality of the description of their death. There is no action and no gore.Following this, we are shown the disappointing truth about the Plum Blossom sword.Those red specks are not magically appearing plum blossoms, just specks of rust. [p. 69]This absurdly anticlimactic ending is the culmination of our false expectations, expectationsborn of both generic conventions and what could be called false foreshadowing.The story begins by establishing the motivation for an archetypal quest. RuanHaikuo's father's sword takes on an important symbolic value when his mother tells himthat, "There are already ninety-nine fresh blood plum blossoms on the sword, and shehoped that the blood of the enemy who killed her husband would make up a fresh plumblossom on the blade of this sword." [p. 63] At this point in the story the protagonist isdescribed as weak and incapable. The expectation that the story will follow the rite ofpassage archetype and that he will face many dangers but finally overcome them, avengehis father's death, and become a man comes both from the genre and from various aspectsof foreshadowing. The majestic imagery which links the sun, his mother's self-immolating17 Yu Hua, "Fresh Blood Plum Blossoms," pp. 62, 63. Until the next reference, all pagenumbers given in the text will refer to this work.80fire, and the image of Ruan Haikuo as he sets out presages something of the order of amythic quest:When he was walking down the road, he couldn't help but look back.He saw that the hut that he had just left had become the colour of thered sun. Red flames danced gracefully about the hut in the morningbreeze. In the sky behind the hut, dawn was also fiercely flaming.. .Inthe days that stretched out from this point there would no longer be aplace to call home... [p. 63]However, nothing happens. He neither overcomes dangers nor succumbs to them.At the point when he sets out on his quest, the story has not greatly deviated fromthe generic tradition.18 As the story progresses, however, it becomes increasingly obviousthat Yu Hua is playing with the genre and, at times, even satirizing it. For example, theinclusion of warriors with bizarre magical powers, which are often outlined in narrativeasides is very common in the genre and also appears in "Fresh Blood Plum Blossoms."However, in this story their powers are vaguely ridiculous. Madame Rouge is described asfollows:Madame Rouge was the second worldly master of poison. Her entirebody was plastered with exceedingly poisonous pollen. Should thispollen permeate outward, anyone within three metres would bepoisoned and would die. [p. 65]She wears heavy make-up and since this pollen [huafen] could also be a reference towomen's toiletries in general, the impression one gets is that of a womam who wears fartoo much perfume. Black Needle, at first, seems more sinister:18 In fact, even the language is classically flavoured. This linguistic flavouring continuesthroughout, and the diction is quite different from other works by Yu Hua.81Amongst men of the sword, Black Needle's fame hovers near that ofMadame Rouge, and he has been a powerful member of the fraternityof arms for almost ten years now. He is a first rate expert at creatingdarkness, especially at at night, when he is right on the mark everytime. His instrument for creating darkness is none other than his headof black hair. As soon as any hair leaves his head, it becomes asstraight and rigid as a black needle. When it shoots out into the night,not the slightest bit of light is left. As a result of years as a wanderingadventurer, the hair on his head has started to present a rather desolatesight. [p. 65]Is there not something vaguely ridiculous about his ability to make dark nights dark? Andwhat about the image of his balding head?The use of bizarre coincidences as the sole means of propelling the story forward isboth a satirical statement and a means of illustrating the theme of the meaninglessness andarbitrariness of life. In knight-errant stories coincidence is often used to propel the plotforward. However, this story takes it to new and ridiculous extremes. For example, it isonly through a string of random occurrences that the protagonist stumbles upon BlackNeedle. First, "Before dawn, Ruan Haikuo woke up as if he were a window that hadbeen blown open by the wind." Then, the sound of horses outside makes him think of theroad, so he leaves the inn where he was sleeping and sets out by moonlight. Followingthis, he is inexplicably attracted to a little path along the river and, half-unaware of what heis doing, follows this path and comes to a village. At the entrance to the village there is awell, and Black Needle is sitting under a tree near this well. [pp. 65, 66] Had any one ofthese events not happened, he would almost certainly not have met Black Needle. Nothingthe protagonist accomplishes is accomplished because of his ability or effort. There alsoseems to be no motivation for events. He is described as, " the wind blowing alongthe ground, moving along as it pleases," [p. 64] and this is an apt description.82This kind of an experimental anti-story is difficult to analyse for meaning beyondthat inherent in undertaking the reversal of norms. It is clearly pointing to the ridiculousaspects in the genre and to the meaninglessness of certain Chinese ideas such as theresponsibility of revenge. More generally it points to a highly random notion of life —things happen because they happen. It succeeds as a readable experiment because there issome interesting imagery, some of the satiric elements do show imagination, and because itis short. Unlike in "The Affairs of the World Are Like Smoke," Yu Hua does not take theideas of the genre and use them in something that goes beyond the genre. An anti-genre isalways highly bound by the original conventions of the genre itself by the very fact that it isits opposite.One should not neglect to mention that there is great precedent in traditional Chineseliterature for overturning the conventions of the knight-errant genre. For example, Y. W.Ma points to a story in the huaben tradition called "Yang Wen, the Road-Blocking Tiger"[Yang Wen lanluhu zhuan] and illustrates how the protagonist of this story, Yang Wen,fails to live up to the expectations attendant on being a knight-errant. Y. W. Ma writes:Yang is the scion of the arch-patriotic hero Yang Ye whosedescendants provide the Song Dynasty with generation aftergeneration of mighty male and female generals. His father is a greatgeneral in his own right. Even his father-in-law is a high militaryofficer. It is only natural for Yang Wen to be exceedingly qualified inmartial arts. The storyteller elaborates this point as the story begins,to make sure that this message is not missed. But then incidenthappens after incident to discredit Yang's credentials while the storycontinues to honour his status as a knight-errant at the same time.1919 Y. W. Ma, "The Chinese Knight-Errant in Hua -P en Stories," p. 290.83"Classical Love" — a modern chuanqiYu Hua's story "Classical Love" [Gudian aiqing] is neither a clear negation nor asimple satire of the norms inherent in the classical Chinese stories that form its basis. It issimilar to "Fresh Blood Plum Blossoms" in that, unlike "The Affairs of the World Are LikeSmoke," it does not use an eclectic selection of elements from traditional Chineseliterature, but, rather, adopts a traditional form (and, to a certain extent, pre-modernlanguage) and stays well within this form for the bulk of the story.This story combines a number of themes that are part of both Tang chuanqi, earlierzhiguai, stories by later writers such as Pu Songling, and poetry: it follows the life of afailed scholar, and it deals with lovers who through circumstances are kept from happyunion,20 the strength of love in the face of separation and adversity, the ghostly lover, andthe reuniting of lovers after one of them has died.21The story begins when Liu Sheng, the son of an impoverished scholar, sets out forthe capital to write the civil service examinations and bring glory to the family name. Hehopes to succeed where his deceased father failed. En route to the capital, he comes upon abustling and prosperous city. Chance brings him into the beautiful garden of a great familywhere a series of fortuitous events allows him to meet and fall in love with an exceptionallybeautiful young lady. He spends the night and promises to return after writing the exams.She gives him some silver and a lock of her hair. He later fails the exams and returns tofind that, only months later, all that is left of the estate where his beloved lived are ruinsovergrown with weeds. This kind of discovery is typical in depictions of encounters withfox-fairies (magical fox-like creatures who sometimes take human form, usually that of a20 See, for example, Lin Daiyu and Jia Baoyu in Cao Xueqin's The Dream of the RedChamber [Honglou meng].21 See, for example, Li Jingliang, "Li Zhangwu" in Taiping Guangji (340.3) for afterlifeunion, translated in Kao, pp. 197-204. The whole ghostly lover topic receives a sectionin Y. W. Ma and Joseph S. M. Lau, eds., Traditional Chinese Stories —Themes andVariations (Cheng and Tsui, 1986).84beautiful and bewitching woman). In such stories, often a character becomes lost andcomes across a great mansion or exquisite garden where he meets a beautiful woman onlyto return later and find a graveyard or ruins.22 Additionally, Karl S. Y. Kao notes that,"...many of the Tang zhiguai feature a hero who becomes the experiencer of the strangeevents often right after he has failed the civil service exam.. ,"23 and this is similar to thecase of Liu Sheng.Three years later, Liu Sheng sets out for the capital again. Horrible scenes ofdrought and starvation follow and Yu Hua engages in some typically bizarre black humour.For example, Liu Sheng notices that: "The trees along the road were covered in scars; theyhad all been gnawed on by humans. There were a few trees that still had some teeth stuckin them. Probably some people had used too much force and their teeth had been left in thetrees."24 Shortly afterwards, he sees, "... ten or more people crawling about on the grass,their rear-ends jutting up as they urgently munched away at the grass..." [p. 246}When Liu Sheng reaches the formerly bustling city that he had come across lasttime, he finds it in serious decline. Men sell their wives and daughters to butchers whochop up these women while they are still living for sale as food. He flees this truly horriblescene and comes upon an inn in the countryside. A merchant comes in and orders freshmeat. In the back room the leg of a still living woman is chopped off and the meat isprepared as food. Liu Sheng soon discovers that this woman is none other than hisbeloved.She asks him to buy back her leg and then to kill her so as to take her out of hermisery. Using the last remnants of the silver she had given him, he does so and then22 See, for example, Huangfu Mei, "Zhang Zhifang," in Taiping Guangji (455.1),translated in Kao, pp. 371-379.23 Karl S. Y. Kao, p. 43.24 Yu Hua, "Classical Love," in Shishi ru yan (The affairs of the world are like smoke),(Taibei: Yuanliu chuban gongsi, 1991), p. 246. All page numbers given in thissubsection refer to this work.85buries her body by the river. Following this, he tends graves for a wealthy family in orderto survive but eventually tires of tending the graves of strangers. He later returns to the cityof old and finds that it is prosperous again. He comes upon a strikingly familiar estate,and, much like in the past, he enters its garden and hears the voice of a young lady.However, this time he is driven away by a maid. Finally, he decides to live in a hut by hisbeloved's grave and sell tea in order to survive. His beloved comes to him at night butdisappears before daybreak. He uncovers her grave and finds her whole and un-rottenbody. The next night she come to him again, but she tells him that since he had uncoveredher grave, her attempt to come alive has been thwarted and this will be the last time he willever see her.25Superficially, aside from the occasional episodes of black humour and the regularuse of modern Chinese, this story follows classical models quite closely. Its central themeof impermanence, suffering, and illusion in life, although not part of all pre-modern fiction,does have its origins in Buddhist thought and does find expression in numerous classicalstories. However, Yu Hua subverts or, at the very least, mutates the original form in a fewways. He juxtaposes classical stock phrases and cliched imagery with his own verydifferent method of description. This is particularly evident in the sensual scene in whichLiu Sheng comes to meet the beautiful young mistress of the great, yet ethereal, house.The mansion, its garden, and the young mistress are described using four character setphrases and other classical formulaic methods. For example, the garden is described as"exquisite and refined [linglong jingzh]" [p. 232] and the young mistress is "fair, slim andgraceful Uingting yulir and has "golden clothing, jade body Uinyiyushenr and a " littlecherry mouth [yingtao xiaokou]." [pp. 236, 236, 232, respectively] However, moreinventive passages, usually in more modern-sounding Chinese, are interspersed amongst25 An exact reversal of a similar scene in the Ming Dynasty play The Peony Pavilion[Mudan ting] by Tang Xianzu.86these formulaic descriptions. For example, these water metaphors parallel the rainstormgoing on during this scene: "Although the young mistress' voice was as lissom as tricklingwater, Liu Sheng was still able to immerse himself in it. A smile came to his face, and thesmile undulated like a wave..." [p. 234] and, later, "Liu Sheng saw that a volume ofpoetry was lying open on the desk. He continued reading from where the young mistresshad been reading from just a while ago. Every word jumped about just like the rain outsidethe window." [p. 237]These kinds of metaphors are not at all shocking or bizarre. However, they dowork to create a certain dichotomy in the scene, a dichotomy between traditional (and, inthis case, cliched) and modem (or at least more typical of Yu Hua in his other stories)modes of description. This dichotomy is paralleled in this scene by the dichotomies ofreal/false, dream/reality, and yinglyang. Reality and unreality intermingle, foreshadowingthe ephemeral nature of the garden and the beautiful woman in it: "The young mistress hadleft, but her scent remained. Amidst the fragrant smell of the ink used for seals, Liu Shengcould distinguish another kind of refined, subtle scent. That scent faded in and out, as ifreal, as if false." [p. 237]After she leaves the room that he is in, Liu Sheng projects his fantasies about heronto inanimate objects, and slowly the distinctions between fantasy and reality fade: "LiuSheng walked up in front of the plum blossom canopy. He could smell the fragrant scentof ink. That jadeite green quilt seemed to be lying there on its back like a person... LiuSheng stood in front of the bed for a while and then let down the plum blossom canopy.The canopy in his hands seemed as smooth as the young mistress' skin." [p. 237]Enraptured by the thought of her, he is lulled to sleep by the sound of the rain. When he iswoken by her, he is at first unable to distinguish her from his dreams and fantasies and isunsure as to whether or not she is real: "The young mistress' hair was somewhat tousledand some leftover make-up was visible on her face. Despite looking like this, she waseven more tantalizing than just before. For a while, Liu Sheng thought this was just an87image in a dream. Only when he heard the young mistress speaking did he know that thisscene was real." [p. 238]From Liu Sheng's perspective, there is a feeling of unreality about this garden andabout the young mistress. It almost seems as if he is real, while she belongs to the worldof fantasy. Certainly, one can read the story as if she is an embodiment of his desires anddoes not even "really" exist. However, what are, depending on how one interprets thisstory, either his fantasies or elements of the spirit world do have effects on the mundaneworld. After he leaves her presence, he still has the lock of her hair and the silver.Furthermore, this silver is real enough for him to use it to survive on. [p. 245]This contrast between these two realities is paralleled by other dualities, forexample the yin-yang pair. Karl S. Y. Kao points out that the interrelationship between thespirit world and the real world is often seen in such dualist terms (usually, light [ming] anddark [you]).26 In "Classical Love," the young mistress and Liu Sheng's embrace isdescribed as the coming together of yin and yang, and for a short time, fantasy becomesreal as the spirit world melds with the mundane world, and they cannot distinguish betweeneach other. [p. 239] This kind of dualism is also evident in the Qing dynasty novel TheDream of the Red Chamber, in which the ebb and flow between real and false forms acentral motif. 27 That novel was set largely in a garden similar to the one described in"Classical Love."All of these dichotomies (including the traditional stock imagery/modem-soundinginventive imagery one) are present to a certain extent throughout the story. They and thestory are held together by two important threads, the river and the yellow road that LiuSheng follows. Previously, we have seen the use of the river as a symbol for fate and forthe course of life in "The Affairs of the World Are Like Smoke." In "Classical Love" the26 Karl S. Y. Kao, p. 8.27 See Andrew H. Plaks, Archetype and Allegory in the Dream of the Red Chamber(Princeton University Press, 1976) for a treatment of this topic.88river also has these values. It is also the constant against which the passing away of time ismeasured.The river parallels the flow of Liu Sheng's life. He repeatedly comes to the river,and he ends up living by it. Furthermore, the young mistress is mirrored in the river by awhite minnow that Liu Sheng sees on numerous occasions. The parallel between this fishand his desires becomes evident very early in the story when he first sees it: "A whiteminnow was swimming to and fro all alone. That swaying body was most lovely andgraceful. Watching the minnow moving, perhaps because the minnow was all alone orbecause it was so lovely, Liu Sheng felt somewhat melancholy." [p. 229] Later, long afterhe has met the young mistress, the parallel between her and the minnow becomes moreexplicit: "Seeing the beauty of the minnow's movements, how could he not think of theyoung mistress walking gracefully in her quarters?" [p. 264]The yellow road (huangse dadao) that Liu Sheng travels on throughout the storyhas its parallel in the path of the sun which is also referred to in traditional Chinesecosmology as the yellow road (huangdao). As the sun inexorably passes over its path, sothe days pass away. This yellow road is a unifying symbol that ties together the numerousreferences to the impermanence of life. A reincarnation of the Buddhist theme of theimpermanence of worldly things is central to "Classical Love" and is reflected both in thestory as a whole and in numerous statements on impermanence and ephemerality. LiuSheng sees the drastic turns of fortune of the city that he passes through periodically. Hevisits a mansion and finds love only to return and find ruins. Furthermore, statements suchas, "the affairs of the world are like smoke," [p. 248] and, "everything in the past was likesmoke that had cleared, clouds that had dispersed...," [p. 243] dot the story, and LiuSheng expresses such sentiments as, "if worldly affairs are so changeable, what areaccomplishments and fame worth?"[p. 264] The rejection of the value of worldly89accomplishments is part of both Daoist and Buddhist thought. There are also numerousexamples of traditional Chinese stories presenting just this sentiment.28Further enrichment and parallels Of Yu Hua's stories to date, "Classical Love," "Fresh Blood Plum Blossoms," and"The Affairs of the World Are Like Smoke" make the most extensive and obvious use oftraditional Chinese models. However, Yu Hua's use and adaptation of traditional elementsis by no means limited to these stories. He makes far more use of premodern or, at thevery least, pre-revolutionary language and symbolism than most other contemporaryChinese authors. Similarly, visits from ghosts and ethereal, ghostlike lovers are very mucha part of his fiction.29 There are numerous other parallels, particularly with respect toimagery.The extreme nature of the grotesque and macabre imagery in Yu Hua's fiction mayseem to be a new thing for Chinese literature. However, there is much precedent for suchimagery in classical Chinese literature. For example, the madman's bizarre fantasies in"1986" may derive from descriptions of Buddhist hells. In "1986" the madman engages inextended and gruesome fantasies that include such descriptions as:In a great big pot oil was bubbling away. Those people whosebodies were still whole were tossed into the pot like falling rain and atremendous rending sound burst forth. Frying bodies were thrown uplike fish jumping out of the water and then tumbled back in. He sawthat those heads in mid-air [from previously decapitated bodies] had28 See, for example, "The World Inside a Pillow" [Zhenzhong ji] from W enyuan yinghua(Fine blossoms from the garden of literature) translated in Ma and Lau, eds., pp. 435-3 7.29 For example, Shan'gang's visit to his wife after his death in "One Kind of Reality" andthe ethereal companion in "This Story is Dedicated to the Young Women Yang Liu."90all fallen down to earth and now covered the ground in a thicklayer...the bodies in the pot were still frying away. 3°Compare this to the following description from the Six Dynasties era zhiguai story "ZhaoTai and His Experiences in Hell":In yet another hell, sinners were cooked in huge cauldrons over hotstoves. Their bodies and heads would come apart and sink, and theywould churn about with the boiling water. Demons with pitchforksstood by the side. There were three or four hundred people standingon one side waiting to enter the cauldron; they were seen to embraceeach other and cry bitterly. In another, there were countless tall,broadsword trees, the roots, trunks, branches, and leaves all madefrom swords. A crowd of people were cursing each other, and theywould climb up the trees of their own accord, as if delighted to doso.31Furthermore, the black humour that is so much a part of stories such as "1986,""One Kind of Reality," and "Classical Love" has its parallel in the traditional biji (jottings)genre in which unusual and interesting happenings and imaginings were briefly recorded.The following passage from a Qing dynasty biji written by Pu Songling is a good exampleof this:The scholar Mr. Sun Jingxia says that in his city a certain Mr. Jia raninto some roving bandits and was killed. His head fell down in frontof his chest. When the bandits retreated, his family took his corpse.As they were carrying it off to be buried, they heard him breathing and30 Yu Hua, "1986", in Shiba sui chu men yuan xing (Leaving home and traveling afar ateighteen) (Taibei: Yuanliu chuban gongsi , 1990), pp. 83, 84.31 "Zhao Tai and His Experiences in Hell" from Taiping Guangji (377.1), translation byGeorge Lytle in Kao, p. 168.91took a closer look at him. The one whose breath had not stoppedstretched out his fingers, took hold of his head and lifted it up and putit back in place. Following this separation, it was not until night camethat he started to moan. They fed him a little with a spoon andchopsticks. Half a year later his wound had healed. Over ten yearslater he got together with a few people for a chat. Someone made ajoke and the whole room erupted in laughter. Mr. Jia also clapped.When he lent his head back [in laughter], his scar burst open andblood poured out. Everyone could see that he had died.. 32This is even reasonably self-referential; the gruesome humour stems from a man who dieslaughing.postmodernist ideas about reality and perception and their Buddhist parallelsThe parallels between Yu Hua's fiction and Chinese tradition are by no meanslimited to literary forms and language. Many of the postmodemist themes in Yu Hua'sworks that were examined in chapters one and two have their parallels in Buddhist thought.This is particularly the case in the realm of perception and notions of reality. This is not tosay, however, that Yu Hua is a Buddhist writer or that postmodernism derives fromBuddhism. Idealism also has a long tradition in the West separate from Buddhism.Furthermore, the context in which the postmodemist undermining of metaphysical andepistemological foundations occurs is radically different from the context in which many ofthese Buddhist views were expounded. Having said this, there are, however, somestriking similarities between some postmodemist views and the ideas of certain strains ofBuddhism, particularly Chan Buddhism. From the evidence provided in the stories32 Pu Songling, "A Certain Mr. Jia from Town" [Zhucheng moujia] in Liaozhai zhiyi(Strange Stories from the Leisure Studio) (Taibei: Yiwen yinshuguan, 1956), p. 110.92discussed above (in particular "Classical Love") it is clear that Yu Hua has been exposed tothese ideas, if only second-hand through literature influenced by Buddhism. Yu Huaexplains his way of approaching the truth as follows:After I discovered that the old attitude towards writing of "consideringthings as they are" could only lead to superficial truths, I had to goand search out new modes of expression ... I started to use a kind of"false" form. This kind of form left behind the order and logicsupplied to me by the immediate world. However, it allowed me tofreely approach the truth.33The truth that Yu Hua is trying to approach sounds remarkably like the "ultimate reality" ofMildhyamika Buddhism. According to Chang Chung-yuan, "When the Mildhyamika(Sanlun) Buddhist says that all things are empty, he is not expressing a nihilistic view, butspeaking of Ultimate Reality, which cannot be placed in any modem logical system."34As has been demonstrated earlier, many of Yu Hua's descriptive methods dependon incongruity and on the rejection of commonsense divisions and connections. Thesetechniques have their parallels in Chan Buddhism, a school of Buddhism that developedpartly out of the Midhysmika tradition. According to Kenneth Chen, "The Linji branch [ofChan Buddhism] ...follows what may be called the shock therapy, the purpose of which isto jolt the student out of his analytical and conceptual way of thinking and lead him back tohis natural and spontaneous faculty.35 Strange riddles known as gong' an were part of this"shock therapy." Kenneth Chen describes their purpose as follows: "The gong' an is meantto stimulate the student to a realization that logic, reason, and conceptualization are33 Yu Hua, "Xuwei de zuopin" ("False" works) in Yu Hua, Shishi ru yan (The affairsof the world are like smoke) (Taibei: Yuanliu chuban gongsi, 1991), p. 7.34 Chang Chung-yuan, Original Teachings of Ch' an Buddhism (New York: PantheonBooks, 1969), p. 5.35 Kenneth K. S. Chen, Buddhism in China — A Historical Survey (Princeton UniverstiyPress, 1964), p. 359.93stumbling blocks to his awakening and to induce him to resort to resources other than logicand reason..."36 Such tools as magic realism, black humour, descriptions of extremeviolence, incongruous metaphors, and naive perception serve a similar purpose.However, there is a unity, a foundation that is part of the Chan Buddhist beliefsystem but is not part of postmodernism. Kenneth Chen writes, "When the Chan followerapprehends the Buddha-nature within himself, he experiences an awakening awareness of the undifferentiated unity of all existence."37 Thateveryone has this Buddha-nature within forms an uncontested foundation.The constant undermining of foundations and expectations and the blendingtogether of reality, dream, and fantasy that is a part much of Yu Hua's fiction also has itsparallel in one of the Chinese philosophical systems that influenced Chan Buddhism,Daoism. This is particularly evident in the works of the Daoist philosopher Zhuangzi.Consider the following passage of his from roughly the third century B.C.:In the northern darkness there is a fish and his name is Kun. The Kunis so huge I don't know how many thousand /i he measures. Hechanges and becomes a bird whose name is Peng. The back of thePeng measures I don't know how many thousand Ii across and, whenhe rises up and flies off, his wings are like clouds all over the sky.When the sea begin to move, this bird sets off for the southerndarkness, which is the Lake of Heaven.The Universal Harmony records various wonders, and it says:"When the Peng journeys to the southern darkness, the waters areroiled for three thousand /i. He beats the whirlwind and rises ninetythousand /i, setting off on the sixth-month gale." Wavering heat, bits36 Kenneth K. S. Chen, p. 359.37 Ibid.94of dust, living things blown about by the wind — the sky looks veryblue. Is that its real color, or is it because it is so far away and has noend?38After seeing that Yu Hua's works have many elements in common with Chinesetraditional literature, one might be tempted to dismiss the idea that he is a postmodemistwriter. No one would actually say that the three stories discussed in detail in this sectionare the same as the traditional models that they follow, but there are a great number ofparallels between the themes and literary methods found in practically all of his stories andtraditional Chinese literary methods and philosophical beliefs. This might lead one to seehim as simply continuing an indigenous tradition.The existence of parallels between Yu Hua's works and aspects of Chinese traditiondoes not, however, prove that Chinese tradition provided the source for all his ideas. Inthe case of Chan Buddhist ideas, there are many sources for similar ideas that are notChinese (e.g., Dada, surrealism, Sufi mysticism, etc.). Similarly, there are graphicimages of hell in the European tradition (e.g., Dante).Even if Chinese tradition is the source for these ideas, this does not mean that aforeign conception such as postmodernism cannot be validly applied to Yu Hua's fiction.European and South American postmodemist writers look to both pre-modem and foreignbelief systems and literary traditions as sources of ideas, images, and literary forms, andthey do this as a way of breaking past modem European thought systems, breaking pastrationality, rejecting realism, and wallowing in "otherness." Take for example, Jorge LuisBorges and the use of Cabbalism and Sufi mysticism, and Salman Rushdie and thetransplanted use of ancient Indian and Arab thought, history, religion, and imagery in amodem British context.38 Zhuangzi, Chuang Tzu —Basic Writings (translated by Burton Watson) (New York:Columbia University Press, 1964), p. 23.95Yu Hua's turning to pre-modern forms and ideas and writing something like "TheAffairs of the World Are Like Smoke" is also a way of breaking past prevailing literaryattitudes and the limits of imagination. In modern China the modern tradition of cutting offthe pre-1911 tradition and the hegemony of modern, realist, socially-concerned, Western-influenced literature means that by delving into traditional genres as removed from thissphere as zhiguai, Yu Hua is radically rejecting the orthodox limitations of his milieu. Ina sense, the events of the last seventy years (particularly the Cultural Revolution) havemade many aspects of pre-modern Chinese culture more foreign to young Chinese todaythan foreign notions such as realism.In dealing with this topic, one must distinguish between parallels which could beaccidental, and the clear use of tradition. Few of Yu Hua's works, postmodernist or not,use Chinese tradition in as obvious a manner as "The Affairs of the World Are LikeSmoke." However, even if all the thematic parallels discussed earlier are accidental and YuHua derived all of his ideas on epistemology and modes of description through personalreflection and/or foreign influence, their existence would serve to prove the point thatpostmodernism is not entirely alien to Chinese culture. The reality is that postmodernistwriters in general do not solely derive their inspiration from aspects of the modern highlyindustrialised world, but rather transplant mutated plants from the past and from othercultures as a means of going beyond the ways of thinking that grew out of the Renaissanceand the Industrial Revolution. For Yu Hua, one might substitute May Fourth Movementand Communist Revolution for Renaissance and Industrial Revolution.96ConclusionIs Yu Hua really a postmodernist writer? As we have seen, his stories are certainlyfilled with themes that are consonant with postmodernism, themes such as: society is filledwith alienation; human beings are horrible, violent, vicious, and cruel; this world is arandom, meaningless place full of suffering; reality, fantasy, and dreams are not as easilydistinguished as commonsense would have us believe; there are many different modes ofperception.Many of these themes, however, are present in the works of writers such as LuXun and Anton Chekhov. Why aren't these writers postmodernist? There is no questionthat Lu Xun often expresses an extremely pessimistic view of human (or at least Chinese)nature. Similarly, he often describes alienated characters and the inability to reallycommunicate. These are indeed common aspects of postmodernist literature. However,they are not part of an "if and only if" relation. In other words, in themselves, they do notmake a work postmodernist. There is very little questioning of reality or perception in LuXun's fiction. "Diary of a Madman" is not at all about perceptions of the physical world.It is about perceptions of society and the ethical world. Furthermore, the truly fantastic andbizarre ups and downs of novels like Salman Rushdie's The Satanic Verses or GiinterGrass's The Tin Drum are simply not there. Lu Xun is not certain about the way the worldis, and he does occasionally pull the rug out from under his readers (especially "old style"Chinese intellectuals in the early decades of this century). However, in a novel like TheSatanic Verses, the rug is continually being pulled out from under us (and even becomes amagic carpet).Anton Chekhov is similar to Yu Hua in that he also deals with alienation andmeaninglessness (in the lives of peasants and nobles alike). However, Chekhov does notopenly and radically undermine our conceptions of what is real and what is not. What isshared by Chekhov and Lu Xun is the degree to which there are foundations (tottering97perhaps, but at least visible) to stand on in the worlds presented in their stories. Naturally,one cannot eliminate foundations altogether, but postmodernist writers often try to give theimpression that they are, much like how realist writers try to produce the illusion of reality.The postmodernist attempt at undermining foundations is most evident in Yu Hua'suse of magic realism, black humour, unusual modes of perception and description, andcontradictory or ambiguous narration. Many of these methods are, however, present inmodernist writing as well. Yu Hua's use and mutation of tradition is perhaps what mostclearly distinguishes him from modernist writers. In some cases, this tradition is that ofpre-modern Chinese literature and philosophy, while in other cases it is the May Fourthrealist tradition (especially in "The April Third Incident" where Lu Xun's use of theenlightened madman as a means of exposing the horror in Chinese culture and society isrecreated in a radically ambiguous manner). This is kind of parodic reincorporation oftradition is typical of postmodernist literature.In the final analysis, however, it is not all that important whether or not Yu Hua'sfiction actually fits into the admittedly rather artificial category of postmodernist literature.The themes and methods identified in the course of this study and briefly outlined above areinteresting in and of themselves. The mutation of tradition, the use of magic realism andimaginative and often bizarre language, the vivid description of fantastically extremeviolence, the use of black humour, and the conception of the world as a meaningless, cruelplace characterize Yu Hua's writing and set it apart from the mainstream of modern Chineseliterature.98Glossary for Chapter 1Can Xuef e iGe FeigongGuanyinHaiyanLei FengLu XunlingchimingmoPipiShanfengShan'gangSu Tong99Glossary for Chapter 1, contd.suonaWang AnyiYe Zhaoyany iyin-yangyouYu HuaZhang FuZhang Xianliang100Glossary for Chapter 2baihuaBai ShuCi YuanDong ShanGe FeiGuanyinHan YuHuang TingjianLi TuoLu XunLu Zhumingmuguangshishi qiushiSu Tong101Glossary for Chapter 2, contd.Sun GanluSun YouyuansuonaWang ShuoxiaoXiaocheng yanyanYe Zhaoyanyin-yangyouZhong Qimin102Glossary for Chapter 31351JAILI WA/CIF71vN**4.%"VAEffAh ChengBai YuxiaoChanchuanqifengjiangong'anHan ShaogongHeizhen Daxiahuangdaohuangse dadaohuabenHuangfu MeiJiaJia Baoyujinyi yushenKun-W■103Glossary for Chapter 3, contd.IiLi DongLi Jingliang"Li Zhangwu"Lin DaiyuLinjilinglong jingzhiLiu ShengLiu TianMudan tingmingPengQingyun DaozhangRuan HaikuoRuan JinwuSanlun104Glossary for Chapter 3, contd.Sun JingxiaTang XianzuTaiping guangjiTao Yuanming"Taohua yuan"tingting yuliwutongwuxia xiaoshuoxiangtuxungenpaiyangYanzhi nuyinyingtao xiaokouyouzhiguai105A Chronological Bibliography of Yu Hua's Fictional Works "Xingxing"^(Xingxing), Beijing wenxue A^(Beijingliterature; 1984, no. 1)."Zhu ntir^* (Bamboo woman), Beijing wenxue^zo (Beijingliterature; 1984, no. 3)."Yueliang zhaozhe ni, yueliang zhaozhe wo" ,14 A *^AAR*f (The moon shines on you, the moon shines on me), Beijingwenxue^lc* (Beijing literature; 1984, no. 4)."Nan er you lei bu qingtan"^JL^. (A real man's tearsdon't come lightly), Donghai^(Eastern Ocean; 1984, no. 5)."Meili de zhenzhu" Ciff mg,- 3* (Beautiful pearls), Donghai 31N-(Eastern Ocean; 1984, no. 7)."Nan gaoyin de aiqing"X k-iy,-,..gptifig. (The male soprano's love),Donghai 3 * (Eastern Ocean; 1984, no. 12)."Sange nOren yige yewan" Ezi^BA (Three women, onenight), Mengyalajrk-4- (Sprouts; 1986, no. 1)."Laoshi"^91 (Teacher), Beijing wenxue30-4 (Beijingliterature; 1986, no. 3)."Kan hal qu"^(Going to see the ocean), Beijing wenxue A 35-3.:Z*4. (Beijing literature; 1986, no. 5)."Shiba sui chu men yuan xing"^A 1±, n 3 451 (Leaving home andtravelling afar at eighteen), Beijing wenxue A^Z4.4. (Beijingliterature; 1987, no. 1).106"Xibei feng huxiao de zhongwu"^AL Tit*^tfjcilif. (The northeastwind whistled at midday), Beijing wenxue AL^Zit (Beijingliterature; 1987, no. 5)."Siyue sanri shijian" 1211^[4* 4 (The April Third incident),Shouhuo i13 V (Harvest; 1987, no. 5)."Meihao de zhemo"^jj4Fjjig (Wonderful Torment), Donghai(Eastern Ocean; 1987, no. 7)."1986 nian" 1986 $ (1986), Shouhuo^V (Harvest; 1987, no. 6)."Hebian de cuowu"^jt,^ire (Mistake by the side of the river),Zhongshan 441^(Zhongshan; 1988, no. 1)."Xianshi yi zhong" gfr1/4.- —VI (One kind of reality), Beijing wenxue AL44.^(Beijing literature; 1988, no. 1)."Shishi ru yan" t*-tal.01 (The affairs of the world are like smoke),Shouhuo IIjV (Harvest; 1988, no. 5)."Siwang xushu" X -t tg it (A death described), Shanghai wenxue(Shanghai literature; 1988, no. 11)."Nan tao jieshu"^a t tt (Inescapable calamities), ShouhuoV (Harvest; 1988, no. 6)"Gudian aiqing"^1124- (Classical love), Beijing wenxue^31-;Z1-4 (Beijing literature; 1988, no. 12)."Wangshi yu xingfa" a *^3j1,111 (Punishment and past events),Beijing wenxue AL 3-ap; zit (Beijing literature; 1989, no. 2)"Xian xue meihua"^jk 44 t (Fresh blood plum blossoms), Renminwenxue AR,Z4-4 (People's literature; 1989, no. 3).107"Ci wen xiangei shaonti yangliu" jit3Caterj).A.4j1 (This story isdedicated to the young woman Yang Liu), Zhongshan^Lij(Zhongshan; 1989, no. 4)."Liange ren de lishi"^AA 6^(The history of two people),Hebei wenxue:?-1-1 ‘ a,Z4.4. (Hebei literature; 1989, no. 10).Shiba sui chu men yuan xing^if (Leaving home andtravelling afar at eighteen). Beijing: Zuojia chubanshe^83, November 1989. includes:"Shiba sui chu men yuan xing" -F-Ap n rg if"Xibei feng huxiao de zhongwu"^fl ixt, aviti 1114-"Yinghuo chong"^),k."1986 nian" 1986 If"Hebian de cuowu" j MCA"Siyue sanri shijian"^EF. El *"Xianshi yi zhong""Shishi ru yan" tiShiba sui chu men yuan xing^A ythil3-4-5- (Leaving home andtravelling afar at eighteen). Taibei: Yuanliu chuban gongsi 'WAffidig-kti, October 1990. includes:"Shiba sui chu men yuan xing"^A .# rj^if"Siwang xushu"^t tig"1986 nian" 1986 If'"Hebian de cuowu" J j tspitt A"Xianshi yi zhong"31,5"c-108Shish! ru yan^t 41 (The affairs of the world are like smoke).Taibei: Yuanliu chuban gongsi 5aa tfix,-,t, February 1991.includes:"Aiqing gushi" tiVit*"Shishi ru yan""Ci wen xiangei shaonCi yangliu""Ouran shijian"^As 4"Gudian aiqing""Xiaji taifeng"^4s itig, (Summer typhoons), Zhongshan 4t LII(Zhongshan; 1991, no. 4)."Huhan yu xiyu" ufast_qtan (Cries and fine rain), Shouhuo(Harvest; 1991, no. 6)."Zisha weisuizhe de jiangshu"^tel-43±. (An account of anunsuccessful suicide), LO ye a Of (Green leaves; 1992, no. 3).109General BibliographyAbrams, M. H. A Glossary of Literary Terms. Holt, Rinehart andWinston, 1988.Booth, Wayne C. The Company We Keep — An Ethics of Fiction.Berkeley: University of California Press, 1988.Booth, Wayne C. The Rhetoric of Fiction [1961]. 2nd ed. Chicago,1983.Cao Xueqin^Honglou meng tz451v (The dream of the redchamber). Beijing: Wenhua yishu chubanshe ci,t,t,*,±111g4±, 1990.Chang Chung-yuan. Original Teachings of Ch'an Buddhism. New York:Pantheon Books, 1969.Ch'en Kenneth, K. S. Buddhism in China – A Historical Survey.Princeton University Press, 1964.Chen Xiaoming MBA^, "Shengguo fufa: juewang de xinli zizhuan —ping Yu Hua 'Huhan yu xiyu"^:^type? g*«^Nt4taf^» (Overcoming the rule of the father: a record of thepsychology of hopelessness — a review of Yu Hua's 'Cries and FineRain'), Dangdai zuojia pinglun^frg -If it (Review ofcontemporary authors; 1992, no. 4).Ci Hai 414- (The sea of words). Shanghai: Shanghai cishu chubanshe..±.444451$11k4±, 1989.Ci Yuan^g (The font of words). Hong Kong: Commercial Press,1979.Duke, Michael S., ed. Contemporary Chinese Literature — An Anthologyof Post-Mao Fiction and Poetry. M. E. Sharpe, 1985.110Eberhard, Wolfram. A Dictionary of Chinese Symbols. London:Routledge and Kegan Paul, 1986.Feng Menglong ?Apt, ed. Xingshi hengyan Nit*-6- (Lasting wordsto awaken the world). Beijing: Zuojia chubanshe imdigth, 1956.the story "Zheng jieshi ligong shenbei gong" *1315-f-j7:7)3/111-W4(Governor Zheng accomplishes a great service with a mighty bow) ison pp. 656-673.Han Yuhai **$ e*, "Dadi menghui — (Huhan yu xiyu' de chaoyanshuyiyi" *AvEi —« of 014^»fel a joA^(Dreams returnto the earth — extra-experiential atonement in 'Cries and Fine Rain'), Dangdai zuojia pinglun fgg it (Review of contemporaryauthors; 1992, no. 4).Hanan, Patrick. The Chinese Vernacular Story. Harvard UniversityPress, 1981.Hu Shi^"Wenxue gailiang chuyi"0.,g1.54 (Some tentativesuggestions for the reform of literature), Xin qingnian **if (Newyouth; 1917, no. 1).Hutcheon, Linda. A Poetics of Postmodernism — History, Theory,Fiction. Routledge, 1988.Kao, Karl S. Y., ed. Classical Chinese Tales of the Supernatural and theFantastic. Bloomington, Indiana: Indiana University Press, 1985.Li Tuo^, "Xuebeng hezai?"^III^? (Where is theavalanche?), preface to Yu Hua^* ,Shiba sui chu men yuan xingn 5-A fi (Leaving home and traveling afar at eighteen).Taibei, Yuanliu chuban gongsi , 1990.Lin YO-sheng. The Crisis of Chinese Consciousness — RadicalAntitraditionalism in the May Fourth Era. The University ofWisconsin Press, 1979.II'Liu, James J. Y. The Chinese Knight-Errant. London: Routledge andKegan Paul, 1981.Ma, Y. W. "The Knight-Errant in Hua-Pen Stories," T'oung Pao, vol. LXI,4-5, pp. 266-300.Ma, Y. W. and Joseph S. M. Lau, eds. Traditional Chinese Stories —Themes and Variations. Boston: Cheng and Tsui, 1986.Mo Yan^"Qingxing de shuomengzhe — guanyu Yu Hua ji qixiaoshou de zagan"^tit tej-RVZ--- lpyt.lit. +-Rums,(Wide awake speaking of dreams — some impressions of Yu Hua andhis fiction), Dangdai zuojia pinglun^fp% w it (Review ofcontemporary authors; 1991, no. 2).Nienhauser, William H., Jr., ed. Critical Essays on Chinese Literature.Hong Kong: Chinese University of Hong Kong, 1976.Pan Kaixiong MA*, "Huhan yu xiyu' ji qita" <dr^fa »RA4, ('Cries and Fine Rain' and other things), Dangdai zuojiapinglun^frg it (Review of contemporary authors; 1992, no.4)Pan Kaixiong aSttit, "Zouchu lunhuile ma? — you jiwei qingnianzuojia de changpian xin zuo suo yinfa de sikao" *tiltFf T ny —Et/ ft * I'M fej-Ks *iron Aog,^(Back where westarted? — reflections stemming from the new novels of a fewyoung authors), Dangdai zuojia pinglun g fWV if it (Review ofcontemporary authors; 1992, no. 2).Plaks, Andrew H. Archetype and Allegory in the Dream of the RedChamber. Princeton University Press, 1976.Pu Songling Nektri. Liaozhai zhiyi 111AZ* (Tales of the unusualfrom the leisure studio). Taibei: Yiwen yinshuguan Z5M1:Stt,1956 (photolithographic reprint of 1766 edition).112Wang Binbin 14-4^, "Can Xue, Yu Hua: 'zhende esheng?' — Can Xue,Yu Hua yu Lu Xun de yizhong bijiao" A ,^ telg.iv?, -As,31. m43-fit% $A (Can Xue, Yu Hua: 'the true voice ofhorror?' — one kind of comparison of Can Xue, Yu Hua, and Lu Xun),Dangdai zuojia pinglun h IM if it, (Review of contemporaryauthors; 1992, no. 1).Yu Hua^, "Xuwei de zuopin"^1kj ryzifr^("False" works),preface to Shish' ru yan jft* tilF1 (The affairs of the world arelike smoke). Taibei: Yuanliu chuban gongsi 3A1,1tvig*Tli , 1991,originally in Shanghai wenlun ±Ajcit (Shanghai journal of literarycriticism; 1989, no. 5).Yu Hua^, "Wode zhenshi" ftlirces. (My reality), Renmin wenxueR,5c44. (People's literature; 1989, no. 3).Xuexi Lel Feng hao bangyang 5J is' 14 0444 (Study the goodexample of Lei Feng). Beijing: Changcheng chubanshe *JA4±,1990.Zeng Zhennan^"Xianshi yizhong' ji qita" <4.X5rs.^»RA.("One kind of reality" and other things), Beijing wenxueIC* (Beijing literature; 1988, no. 2).Zhang Ailing 3*Im. "Jinsuoji" ia (The golden cangue) in ZhangAiling xiaoshuoji^(A collection of Zhang Ailing'sfiction). Taibei: Huangguan An, 1968.Zhang Fu 3*1* , "Xianshi yizhong — ping Yu Hua xiaoshuo" 314z — frit(One kind of reality — a review of Yu Hua's fiction),Dangdai zuojia pinglun fgg j2 j (Review of contemporaryauthors; 1991, no. 2).Zhang Yiwu^Eat , "`Ren' de weiji — du Yu Hua de xiaoshuo"rem —ig *tem. ik (The crisis of "man" — reading Yu Hua'sfiction), Dushu ip133 (Reading, 1988, no. 12).113Zhao Yiheng tgittj, "Feiyuyihua de kaixuan — xidu Yu Hua" Efl jut.Otjtit tl^A.** (The triumphant return of desemantisation —closely reading Yu Hua), Dangdai zuojia pinglun f fm(Review of contemporary authors; 1991, no. 2).Zhonghua renmin gonghe guo fen sheng ditu ji cl:t*^#ttlif0-titEm. (An atlas of the People's Republic of China,separated by province). Shanghai: Zhongguo ditu chubanshecrtglithENthitg4-±, 1988.Zhu Wei * , "Guanyu Yu Hua"^-#* (About Yu Hua), postscriptto Yu Hua^,Shiba sul chu men yuan xing^A(Leaving home and travelling afar at eighteen). Taibei: Yuanliuchuban gongsi 3L,g^, 1990.Zhuangzi^Zhuangzi^(annotation by Guo XiangShanghai: Shanghai guji chubanshe ..±AtsiEthygt±, 1989.Zhuangzi. Chuang Tzu – Basic Writings (translated by Burton Watson).New York: Columbia University Press, 1964.


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