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Title: Farewell to 'history' : new historical fiction's alternative visions of 20th century China
Author: Morrison, Alastair
Awarding Body: SOAS, University of London
Current Institution: SOAS, University of London
Date of Award: 2012
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This thesis provides a reading of the movement of New Historical Fiction in 1990s China within the context of ideological change in the Chinese Communist Party and Chinese society at large, as well as the changing relationship of history and fiction in modern Chinese discourse. The thesis has two opening chapters on the rewriting of history in Chinese culture and its implications for cultural politics and ideology, with an introduction to the movement of New Historical Fiction. A brief history of the relationship between history and fiction is sketched to provide a context for the discussion. Novels of four authors are analysed as case studies of fiction acquiring the power of the discourse of history to provide a meaningful narrative of the past. The first novel, White Deer Plain (Bailuyuan) by Chen Zhongshi offers a rehabilitation of Confucian family values as an alternative to Maoist-Marxism. The second novel, Chrysanthemum's Hometown (Guxiang tianxia huanghua) by Liu Zhenyun, gives an account of twentieth-century Chinese history as one of power struggles in an immoral universe. The last two authors analysed, Li Er and Wang Xiaobo present an experimental play on form and discourse fully exploring the relationship between history and fiction. The extent to which novelists are offering a meaningful alternative to traditional and Party historiography through a fictional rewriting of twentieth-century history is investigated. This alternative may be a temporary phenomenon until a more coherent narrative of Chinese twentieth-century history is constructed by scholars and accepted by society.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral