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Title: A theoretical study of Zhang Ailings short story collection, Chuanqi
Author: Lin, Wei Hsin
Awarding Body: SOAS University of London
Current Institution: SOAS, University of London
Date of Award: 2007
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This thesis applies three literary theories as approaches to the study of Chuanqi, the short story collection of the modem Chinese writer Zhang Ailing. A feminist reading of Chuanqi demonstrates that the social roles of women are actually the projections of men's desires. Women, deprived of the right to define themselves, can only struggle to live up to men's expectations which, however, twist their mentality. A Lacanian study of Chuanqi points out how characters keep transforming their desires into fantasies which, once condensed into signifiers, will be imposed upon other people, the embodiments of the signifieds. However, the characters' desires are never satisfied since people always fail to act in accordance with the signifiers tagged to them. The symbolic disjunction brings to light the irrevocable process where desires turn into disillusions. Bakhtin's theory illustrates that the discourses of characters are the manifestations of their ideologies, whereas the encounters between different ideologies are doomed to end in conflicts. In Chuanqi, the collisions between characters due to their incompatible views of life highlight the arguments of Bakhtin. The inharmonious relationships between characters also account for the main point of Zhang's essay, "The Religion of the Chinese," in which she contends that the secularization of Chinese people results from their emphasis on the maneuvering of relationships. Zhang's overview of Chinese religion indicates her obsession with China. Zhang is engaged in a decadent mentality that prompts her to indulge in the decay of Chinese civilization. Decadence brings forth the sense of desolation which haunts all the stories in Chuanaqi as we see how charactrs unable to detach themselves from civilization, are besiegied with desolation because their desires are left unfulfilled within the restrictoins of civilizied society.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral