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Maxine Hong Kingston's Broken Book of Life

An Intertextual Study of the Woman Warrior and China Men

Maureen Sabine

Publication Year: 2004

The numerous studies of Maxine Hong Kingston's touchstone work The Woman Warrior fail to take into account the stories in China Men, which were largely written together with those in The Woman Warrior but later published separately. Although Hong Kingston's decision to separate the male and female narratives enabled readers to see the strength of the resulting feminist point of view in The Woman Warrior, the author has steadily maintained that to understand the book fully it was necessary to read its male companion text. Maureen Sabine's ambitious study of The Woman Warrior and China Men aims to bring these divided texts back together with a close reading that looks for the textual traces of the father in The Woman Warrior and shows how the daughter narrator tracks down his history in China Men. She considers theories of intertextuality that open up the possibility of a dynamic interplay between the two books and suggests that the Hong family women and men may be struggling for dialogue with each other even when they appear textually silent or apart.

Published by: University of Hawai'i Press


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Title Page, Copyright, Dedication

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pp. ix-x

Iwas fortunate to receive a grant from the Hong Kong Research Grants Council at a time when this book project was gathering momentum. The rigorous assessment leading to this competitive award gave me the scholarly incentive to proceed, and the grant itself gave me the wherewithal. The grant also funded a research assistant and subsidized her postgraduate place. I have known Eliza Wong since she enlivened one of my tutorial groups as a first-year undergraduate...

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pp. 1-15

On several occasions Maxine Hong Kingston made it clear that The Woman Warrior: Memoirs of a Girlhood among Ghosts and China Men were “conceived [as] one huge book” and that she wrote much of the two books at the same time. In the end, this epic book project proved unwieldy and was broken up into the separate life stories of the male and female characters...

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Chapter 1. The Case for an Intertextual Reading of The Woman Warrior and China Men

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pp. 16-66

This work sets out to read The Woman Warrior and China Men with heightened awareness of its intriguing intertextual history, for, as Maxine Hong Kingston has repeatedly pointed out, these two very distinct works were first conceived as one “big novel about men and women” and were drafted simultaneously...

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Chapter 2. "You Say with the Few Words and the Silences”: The Woman Warrior ’s Traces of a Dialogue with China Men

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pp. 67-109

“The Brother in Vietnam” was the first story that Maxine Hong Kingston wrote for her intended family saga, but it ended up as the last section of China Men.1 The last story her father wanted told was “No Name Woman,” yet it became the first tale to lead...

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Chapter 3. ”The Precious Only Daughter”and “the Never-Said”: Traces of Incest in “No Name Woman”and The Woman Warrior

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pp. 110-154

What mortals haunt our lives more persistently than our parents—those giants who cast their long shadow over our childhood and who protect us with their apparent indestructibility from the terrifying reality of our closeness to death? Joan Riviere speculates that our profound horror of death stems from “the disappearance, so comparatively sudden...

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Chapter 4. “I’ll Tell You What I Suppose from Your Silences and Few Words”: The Search for the Father in China Men

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pp. 155-206

The daughter narrator of The Woman Warrior often appeared more at home with the “adventurous people inside [her] head to whom [she] talked” and with whom she was free to be “frivolous and violent, orphaned” than with her own family (170)...

Works Cited

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pp. 207-220


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pp. 221-228

About the Author

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pp. 229-230

E-ISBN-13: 9780824863548
Print-ISBN-13: 9780824827847

Publication Year: 2004

OCLC Number: 607059747
MUSE Marc Record: Download for Maxine Hong Kingston's Broken Book of Life

Research Areas


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Subject Headings

  • Chinese American women -- Biography -- History and criticism.
  • Chinese Americans -- Biography -- History and criticism.
  • Chinese Americans -- Historiography.
  • Kingston, Maxine Hong. China men.
  • Kingston, Maxine Hong -- Criticism and interpretation.
  • Kingston, Maxine Hong. Woman warrior.
  • Intertextuality.
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