UBC Theses and Dissertations

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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Subversion, transcendence, and rejection history in the fiction of contemporary Chinese avant-garde writers Su Tong, Yu Hua, and Ge Fei Yu, Zhansui


This thesis explores the different patterns of history presented in the fiction of the three major contemporary Chinese avant-garde writers Su Tong, Yu Hua, and Ge Fei as well as their respective views of history. Based on detailed case studies of the three writers, the thesis examines the complicated and intertwined relationships of contemporary Chinese avant-garde fiction with previous Chinese traditions—Confucian, the May Fourth, and Communist—and with foreign influences. It also assesses the overall literary achievement of Chinese avant-garde fiction, its position in the history of modern Chinese literature, and its impact on the Chinese writers of later generations. Unlike most previous research on this subject, which overemphasizes the "alien" nature of Chinese avant-garde fiction or its discontinuity with Chinese tradition, this thesis aims at a more balanced investigation. Not only is the "newness" of Chinese avant-garde fiction deeply explored, its "Chineseness" or its profound continuity with Chinese literary and cultural conventions is also carefully examined. By comparison, the thesis attaches more importance to the "Chineseness" of Chinese avant-garde fiction. My analysis demonstrates that, while Su Tong aims at the total subversion of the Communist interpretation of the Chinese revolution and history, while Yu Hua attemptsto transcend the Maoist materialistic view of history through reincorporating subjectivity into historical interpretation, Ge Fei totally rejects the conceptualization of history and the underlying rationalistic assumption of human experience as a perceptible and understandable unity.

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