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Endless War

Fiction and Essays by Wang Wen-hsing

Edited by Shu-ning Sciban and Fred Edwards

Publication Year: 2011

This volume consists of translations of twenty-four fictional works and five essays by Wang Wen-Hsing, plus a dedicated author's preface.  Wang is one of the most celebrated modernist writers in Taiwan and the recipient of Taiwan's most prestigious National Culture and Arts Award (Literature Category).  This anthology brings to English readers excellent works written in the earlier period of Wang's writing career; most of the works are published for the first time in English.  This book is an important introduction not only toward understanding Wang's writings in particular, but also to understanding Taiwan modernist literature in general.

Published by: East Asia Program, Cornell University

Title Page, Copyright, Dedication

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Author's Preface

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pp. xi-xii

This collection includes my earliest story, “The Lingering Night,” a piece I wrote when I was eighteen, fifty-two years ago. During all of those fifty-two years, everything I have written has been directed toward specific goals that...

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Editors’ Preface

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pp. xiii-xiv

Wang Wen-hsing is one of Taiwan most celebrated writers. Endless War: Fiction and Essays by Wang Wen-hsing consists of translations of all his fictional works, with the exception of his two novels, plus five essays that illuminate...

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pp. xv-xvi

The translation project of Endless War: Fiction and Essays by Wang Wen-hsing began several years ago. We wish to express our deepest gratitude, first of all, to Professor Wang Wen-hsing for his unfailing support, from...

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Introduction. Wang Wen-hsing’s Life and Narrative Art

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pp. xvii-li

In 1999, two lists of the best Chinese literary works of the twentieth century were published. One, organized by Lianhe bao (United daily) in Taipei, chose the best thirty...

Part I. Short Fiction

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pp. 1-2

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The Lingering Night

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pp. 3-8

Midnight. A distant temple bell, absolute silence in its wake. Black sky, not a flicker of stars or moon. Fan Ruofu’s head rests on his hands, arms exhausted from supporting the weight, eyelids heavy...

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A Dying Dog

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pp. 9-13

At three o’clock in the afternoon on August 13, I was riding my bicycle north along Xinsheng South Road, Section 2. The dazzling white sun scorched the pavement...

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The Marriage of a Civil Servant

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pp. 15-26

Ah! Haven’t started dinner yet, Mrs. Wang? I’m bored to tears at home all alone, it’s nice to have someone to talk to. No tea, please don’t make tea. I’m not your guest...

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Withered Chrysanthemums

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pp. 27-46

Like the other teachers, Guo Muxian and Lin Xuan lived in the staff dorm just a block from the school. The dorm consisted of a row of green, one-storey wooden buildings...

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pp. 47-56

Shen Qingwen could not open his eyes. The light inside the house was too bright. His mother, wrapped in an old brown coat, had just crawled out of bed to open the door for him....

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pp. 57-74

A cold, dark afternoon, still and silent. Ten-year-old Ah Yin kneels on a tatami mat and leans against the window. There is a small bamboo stool but she does not sit on it as she stares...

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The Toy Revolver

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pp. 75-99

At six o’clock, boundless darkness engulfed the whole of Taipei like a tidal wave. The weather was raw, its touch on the skin like grazing against steel, as if the cold had the destructive...

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pp. 101-106

The July sun, like the steady hum of silent music, sings from morning to evening. After mid-day, the suburb’s rice fields, the dense clusters of newly built bungalows, the eucalyptus trees and the sandy beach all lie prostrate, quiet, patient...

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pp. 107-108

Huang Kaihua, a happy, carefree young man, is only seventeen. He has a round, ruddy face and sparkling black eyes. He often moves around the house in a running posture. Even when walking from the study to his bedroom at night...

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The Happiest Thing

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pp. 109-102

The chilly morning has been creeping onto the street outside the building for hours. The young man opens his eyes and stares at the ceiling for a while, then puts on a sweater...

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Song of the Earth

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pp. 111-113

The Classical Music Teahouse is located on Hengyang Road, just left of the stylish New Park, on the second floor of an ice shop. The entrance to the ice shop is filled with ice-making...

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Midsummer on the Prairie

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pp. 115-131

This stretch of prairie runs north right to K City, but the city’s voice is inaudible. From here, K City looks like a shallow lake, cool and refreshing. This morning, as the sun climbs...

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pp. 133-142

A shy smile hangs on his long, thin face. He has a head of black hair, as fine as silk, combed right to left. Usually, he does not go to class. Most of the time he is the departmental library, his face raised to scan the books on the shelves...

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Two Women

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pp. 143-151

That tall woman who just went by, followed by those four scampering children, is a washerwoman in our neighborhood. She has been washing clothes for about four years...

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Strong Wind

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pp. 153-163

Whoosh—whoosh—that wind is strong, really strong. Go ahead, blow, blow with all your might, you could blow twice as hard and not keep me from pedaling...

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Contract Fulfilled

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pp. 165-188

In the quiet, southern part of Taipei, in a lane with flowerpots arranged along both sides, the professors of a certain university live with their wives and children...

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The Day of the Sea Goddess

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pp. 189-205

It’s about twenty days after the vernal equinox and the mountainous harbor by the sea already is as hot as the deserts of Africa. Each morning the sun rises half an hour earlier...

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Line of Fate

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pp. 207-218

The wind sprang up yesterday at dusk and continued straight through without a break until after ten this morning. The sky, typical of windy weather, is a dull, heavy gray, as if heaven...

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Cold Front

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pp. 219-242

He was only a child, a child not yet thirteen, and he looked even younger than that. Just now he had squeezed out of the dark interior of the bus but he was not going...

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pp. 243-256

I must have been eleven that year, because I had just passed the entrance exam and enrolled in the junior-high program at Normal College. At that time...

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The Black Gown

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pp. 257-266

It was a September evening in Taipei. The calm skies reflected the end of the turbulent typhoon season and signaled the tranquility of the days to come. I was attending a banquet given by a friend of mine, a member of the literary...

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Nights of the Shining Moon

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pp. 267-275

“It was early in the eighth month during the nineteenth year of the reign of the Qing dynasty Emperor Jia Qing.1 Outside the south gate of Fuzhou, the capital city of Fujian...

Part II. Novella and Play title page

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pp. 276-278

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Dragon Inn

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pp. 279-349

By noon, the commotion in the market had calmed down considerably. At this time of day, the market was like a deserted beehive in June with only two or three bees left buzzing...

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M and W

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pp. 351-366

M: Don’t shout, it’s useless. If the elevator’s broken, it’s broken. Except for the light, everything’s broken. At least there’s still air conditioning. That’s lucky. It’s so...

Part III Essays

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pp. 367-368

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Preface to New Stone Statue

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pp. 369-370

Strictly speaking, China has yet to produce many works worthy of being called “short stories.” The main reason for this is that we have not yet understood the meaning of “precision...

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A Brief Discussion ofModern Literature (Abridged)

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pp. 371-374

Art in any and all periods can be referred to as the “modern art” of the times. This is because the art of any era must, without exception, reflect the social life...

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The Challenge and Primitiveness of Modernism

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pp. 375-379

If we probe deeply into the underlying spiritual quality of modernism, we find there are as many different responses as there are respondents...

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Endless War

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pp. 381-384

“Endless war” refers to the war over my writing. That is not to say I am holding a forum so others can voice their objections about my work. Rather, I am talking about...

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Zhongyuan: An Appreciation

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pp. 385-390

If you asked me who had the greatest influence on my pursuit of literature, I would have to say it was Zhongyuan. Zhongyuan is not his real name. As I do not...

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A Chronology ofWang Wen-hsing’s Life

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pp. 391-394

Until recently, “Wang Wen-hsing dashi ji” (Record of major events in the life of Wang Wen-hsing) has been the only published chronology of Wang Wen-hsing’s life...

Bibliography of Wang Wen-hsing’s Works

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pp. 395-406

About the Translators

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pp. 407-411

Acknowledgment of Copyright

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pp. 413-415


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pp. 469-471

E-ISBN-13: 9781933947747
Print-ISBN-13: 9781933947280

Page Count: 464
Publication Year: 2011

Edition: First hc