Text, politics and society : literature as political philosophy in post-Mao China
The purpose of this study is to arrive at a critical overview of politics and literature in the Chinese context. The relationship has increasingly become a "field" of studies and theoretical inquiry that most scholars in either disciplines are wary to tread. This thesis tries to venture into this problematic field by a theoretical examination as well as an empirical critique of Chinese literature and politics, where the relationship seems even more paradoxical, but adds more insight into the argument. The Introduction and Chapter One set up a framework by asking some general but fundamental questions: what literature is, and how it is to be related to politics. Chapter Two examines the historical function of literature and Chinese writers in society to establish the basis of argument in the Chinese context. Chapter Three focuses the discussion on the relationship between politics and literature during the Mao era and after. Chapters Four analyses the literary works published during the post-Mao period to establish the argument that literature, as part of our perception of the world, is most concerned with human society and social amelioration and participates in the socio-political development by contributing to it through a discourse that is otherwise inaccessible. Chapter Five explores the argument further by extending it into the field of cinema, which basically comes from the same narrative tradition of prose literature, but offers a wider and different dimension to the argument pursued. Chapter Six and the Conclusion try to draw together the argument by examining literature as both form and content to argue how and why literature is related to politics and how it has functioned in a political manner in Chinese society. To summarise, Chinese literature in this period will b& shown to be involved In a process of political reform and development by way of bringing the reader to participate in a critical and philosophical dialogue with power, history and future. In the long run, it offers emancipating visions and possibilities revealed to the reader in ways that are historical, developmental, philosophical and comparative. This study focuses on the prose fiction published in this period, for it is the leading force in China's cultural development and constitutes the major trunk of the modern Chinese canon. In addition, the research also extends to drama and films, and the way they, together with prose fiction, make up the most popular perception and intellectual discovery of contemporary Chinese society and politics and best inform the argument of the study of politics and literature.