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Chinese Fiction of the Cultural Revolution

Lan Yang

Publication Year: 1998

As the first comprehensive study of Chinese fiction of the Cultural Revolution, this pioneering work explores the position of the literature of this turbulent period in the context of contemporary China.The book covers the choice of subject matter, authorship and readership of Cultural Revolution fiction.

Published by: Hong Kong University Press, HKU

Title Page

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pp. v-vii

List of Tables

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pp. ix-x

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pp. xi-xii

It is a great pleasure to be able to introduce Dr Yang's work to a wider audience. During the course of his study of Cultural Revolution fiction, I have been again and again impressed with the thoroughness of his research. Even more, I have been astonished and delighted at the results his painstaking work has yielded. Once and for all, the widespread misconception (repeated even by people who ...

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pp. xiii-xiv

In the history of literature it often seems that in periods of great vitality there was a sharp rejection of the immediate past. Official literature in the People's Republic of China may be divided into pre-Cultural Revolution (CR) literature (1949-65), CR literature (1966-76) and post-CR literature (1977-). It is generally taken for granted that post-CR literature, especially in the first ten ...

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pp. 1-32

Both inside and outside China, the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution (,CR' for short) was known as the most sensational political movement in contemporary China under the People's Republic. Some scholars prefer to date the Cultural Revolution from 1966 to 1969 and to define the period from 1969 to 1976 as a radical leftist phase. This book adopts the definition which dates ...

Part I. Characterization of the Main Heroes

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Introduction to Part I

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pp. 35-38

Based on the then current literary policy and theory, the unprecedented promotion of heroic characters made this aspect the single most important literary factor in CR fiction, influencing other aspects such as plot, structure, style and aesthetic views. This part analyses the characterization of main heroes in the novels under investigation. 'Hero', as used in English literary analysis, can be ambiguous, used both for ...

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Chapter 1. Personal Background

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pp. 39-48

The personal background under discussion covers the main heroes' age, sex, marital status, class origin, family background, education, and so on. In Chinese terms, the period of youth continues up to the age of thirty, middle age occupies the years thirty to fifty, and old age is past fifty. Among the heroes of the twenty~four novels, two are set at old age (over fifty), seven ...

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Chapter 2. Physical Qualities

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pp. 49-60

In CR novels, the 'spiritual beauty' of the main heroes is to a great extent related to their ideological qualities such as correct political standing, ideological consciousness and altruistic spirit. However, in spite of the stress laid on descriptions of 'spiritual beauty', authors were by no means careless in portraying the physical characteristics of the main heroes. This analysis is intended to show ...

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Chapter 3. Ideological Qualities

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pp. 61-74

The main ideological motifs of CR agricultural novels were summarized by Chinese commentators in the Cultural Revolution as the struggle between two classes (the proletariat and the capitalist class), two roads (the socialist road and the capitalist road), two lines (the line of Marxism-Leninism guided by Mao and the line of revisionism) and two ideologies (altruism/collectivism and ...

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Chapter 4. Temperamental and Behavioural Qualities

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pp. 75-98

In CR novels ideology is evidently an important part of the foundation of the thinking and actions of the main heroes. This is especially true when the thinking and actions are concerned with class and line struggles. Nevertheless, apart from ideological consciousness and qualities, which cannot explain all their feelings, manners and behaviour, CR novel heroes have their temperamental ...

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Chapter 5. Prominence Given to the Main Heroes

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pp. 97-120

It is evident that the physical, ideological and behavioural qualities analysed in the preceding chapters showed the main heroes' prominence in the CR novels. However, such prominence, as discussed in this section, refers in particular to those aspects intended by the authors to set the characters off through following the 'three prominences' and other established ways. ...

Part II. Lexical Style

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Introduction to Part II

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pp. 123-128

Here Ferdinand de Saussure's distinction between langue and parole is adopted, langue being the system of rules common to speakers of a language, and parole being the particular uses of this system. 1 The langue during the CR period was still the Modern Standard Chinese [putonghua] system, and there is no indication of any change in official policy in regard to its phonological, lexical or ...

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Chapter 6. Vulgar Expressions

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pp. 129-146

Here the concept 'vulgar expression' roughly corresponds to 'swearing' plus a small part of 'slang' described by Lars,Ounnar Andersson and Peter Trudgill in their Bad Language.1 English and Chinese contain some specific sorts of vulgar expression which exist only in one of the two languages. For instance, according to Andersson and Trudgill, 'a typical form of swearing in English and most other ...

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Chapter 7. Ideological Expressions

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pp. 147-164

Compared to the other categories of stylistic items, ideological expressions are very difficult to count because of the following two factors: Firstly, on a semantic level, some political and ideological expressions are well, established, but some are not. There are three semantic categories of these expressions: ...

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Chapter 8. Idioms, Proverbs, Xiehouyu, and Classical Verses

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pp. 165-180

But some other modified forms which are not contained in reference books are individual creations, or are in the transitional stage towards being accepted variant forms. Considering that the modified forms generally have a similar linguistic style to the original idioms if the modification is within some restrictions, the rule here is that the modified idioms not in the reference books which ...

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Chapter 9. 'Bookish' and 'Colloquial'

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pp. 181-186

In brief, 'bookish' refers to stylistic classification, but 'classical' refers to etymological classification. The practical classification of bookish and colloquial words is much more complex than can be explained by general theoretical description and definition. This could be the reason why no special comprehensive dictionaries of bookish or colloquial vocabulary in Modern Standard Chinese can be found. 3 ...

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Chapter 10. Dialectal Expressions

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pp. 187-192

Another category covers items which do not appear in A Modern Chinese Dictionary. They can be classified into two sub,categories: (1) items totally unrelated to the elements of Modern Standard Chinese, since the characters only play a role of phonetic transcription. In many cases, they are only intelligible to the speakers of the specific dialects to which the items belong. ...

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Chapter 11. Military Words and Expressions

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pp. 193-202

In practical contexts, military words and expressions can be classified into two categories according to their usage: One covers military words and expressions in literal use, i.e. they are used to refer to organizations, people, materials, and acts in a real military sense; the other category includes military words and expressions in metaphorical use, i.e. they are used to indicate organizations, ...

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Chapter 12. Meteorological Vocabulary and Inflated Expressions

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pp. 203-210

The above ten stylistic categories of vocabulary have been analysed quantitatively and qualitatively. The other two categories of stylistic items in this study are meteorological vocabulary and inflated expressions. Owing to the lack of thorough statistics, the following analyses concerning the two categories are mainly qualitative. ...

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Chapter 13. The Vocabulary Style in General Perspective

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pp. 211-214

Group A (the first stylistic classification) may be taken as a lexicological classification which is based mainly on the form (including lexical source) of the items, and Group B (the second stylistic classification) a semantic classification which is based mainly on the meaning (including metaphorical meaning) of the items. In comparison with pre-CR novels, the density and ...

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pp. 215-226

The publication of one hundred and twenty~six novels in a ten~year period is a rather small number in a country as large as China. However, taking into account the political circumstances during the years of the Cultural Revolution, this figure is actually high because the average annual quantity was at a similar level to that of the pre-CR period. This study has concentrated on twenty~four ...


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pp. 227-248


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pp. 249-276

Select Bibliography

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pp. 277-290

Appendix 1: The 24 CR Agricultural Novels

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pp. 291-292

Appendix 2: Annotated Bibliography of Novels of the Cultural Revolution

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pp. 293-310


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pp. 311-334


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pp. 335-340

E-ISBN-13: 9789882200685
Print-ISBN-13: 9789622094673

Page Count: 356
Publication Year: 1998