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Eileen Chang

Romancing Languages, Cultures and Genres

Edited by Kam Louie

Publication Year: 2012

Eileen Chang (1920–1995) is arguably the most perceptive writer in modern Chinese literature. She was one of the most popular writers in 1940s Shanghai, but her insistence on writing about individual human relationships and mundane matters rather than revolutionary and political movements meant that in mainland China, she was neglected until very recently. Outside the mainland, her life and writings never ceased to fascinate Chinese readers. There are hundreds of works about her in the Chinese language but very few in other languages. This is the first work in English to explore her earliest short stories as well as novels that were published posthumously. It discusses the translation of her stories for film and stage presentation, as well as nonliterary aspects of her life that are essential for a more comprehensive understanding of her writings, including her intense concern for privacy and enduring sensitivity to her public image. The thirteen essays examine the fidelity and betrayals that dominate her alter ego’s relationships with parents and lovers, informed by theories and methodologies from a range of disciplines including literary, historical, gender, and film studies. These relationships are frequently dramatized in plays and filmic translations of her work.

Published by: Hong Kong University Press, HKU

Title Page, Copyright Page

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pp. v-vi

Notes on Contributors

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pp. vii-ix

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pp. xi

In April 2009, the Faculty of Arts at the University of Hong Kong organized an international conference on Eileen Chang. Between 1939 and 1941, Chang had studied in the Faculty, and this symposium was held “to bring Eileen Chang home.” The papers presented...

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Introduction: Eileen Chang: A Life of Conflicting Cultures in China and America

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pp. 1-13

Eileen Chang [Zhang Ailing 張愛玲] was born into a large Shanghai family in 1920 and died alone in Los Angeles in 1995. In accordance with the terms of her will, she was cremated and her ashes were scattered to the wind. Since her death, Chang’s life and writings have been closely scrutinized...

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1. Romancing Returnee Men: Masculinity in “Love in a Fallen City” and “Red Rose, White Rose”

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pp. 15-32

In 1918, Lu Xun asserted that whenever the country seemed on the verge of collapse, Chinese men would thrust their women forward as sacrificial victims to obscure their own cowardice and helplessness in the face of the onslaught of aggressors and...

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2. From Page to Stage: Cultural “In-betweenness” in (New) Love in a Fallen City

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pp. 33-47

Eileen Chang’s novella “Love in a Fallen City” (傾城之戀 hereafter LFC) has been regularly adapted into stage and film productions in many cities since its publication in Shanghai in 1943. Its adaptations can be considered as ongoing cultural re-creations, based on re-evaluation...

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3. Eileen Chang and Things Japanese

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pp. 49-71

Much has already been written about Eileen Chang’s life and works. The mushrooming of publications in the Chinese language in recent years in particular speaks to the fact that Eileen Chang studies has indeed become a contemporary “distinguished school of...

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4. The Ordinary Fashion Show: Eileen Chang’s Profane Illumination and Mnemonic Art

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pp. 73-90

Reading Eileen Chang’s fascination for clothing is a fascinating experience; reading her critics’ fascination with her writings on fashion is even more enthralling. The existing body of scholarship on Chang’s fashion consciousness can be regarded as a reading guide for...

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5. Betrayal, Impersonation, and Bilingualism: Eileen Chang’s Self-Translation

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pp. 91-111

In March 2009, several articles that told previously unknown stories about well-known Chinese writers and artists who were sent by the authorities to spy on their friends and colleagues during the Cultural Revolution were widely circulated on the...

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6. Eileen Chang, Dream of the Red Chamber, and the Cold War

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pp. 113-129

The year 1949 witnessed the beginning of Communist rule on mainland China and the retreat of the Nationalist Government to the island province of Taiwan. With the Cold War bamboo curtain sealed along the Taiwan Strait, China was ideologically and territorially...

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7. Eileen Chang and Ang Lee at the Movies: The Cinematic Politics of Lust, Caution

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pp. 131-154

Eileen Chang’s “Lust, Caution” (色,戒, 1978) and Ang Lee’s 2007 adaptation of the story deal with appearance, performance, betrayal, and the cinema. Wang Jiazhi (Tang Wei), a young actress (and avid movie fan...

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8. Seduction of a Filmic Romance: Eileen Chang and Ang Lee

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pp. 155-176

Ang Lee’s adaptation of Eileen Chang’s short story “Lust, Caution” (色,戒, 1978) into a film of the same title in 2007 has brought into mainstream culture new and provocative interpretations of an old topic: the politics of a wartime romance. Chang’s original story is...

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9. “A Person of Weak Affect”: Toward an Ethics of Other in Eileen Chang’s Little Reunion

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pp. 177-191

In the above extract from her autobiographical novel Little Reunion (小團 圓, 2009), Eileen Chang describes the book’s protagonist, Julie Sheng (Jiuli Sheng)—Chang’s literary alter ego—as someone who is not duochou shangan (多愁善感, sentimental). “Chou” means...

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10. Romancing Rhetoricity and Historicity: The Representational Politics and Poetics of Little Reunion

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pp. 193-213

With the discovery of Eileen Chang’s unpublished manuscripts after her death, there is a need for us to revise our picture of her creative activities in the decades after her relocation to the United States in 1955. Unlike the previous assumption— that her...

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11. Madame White, The Book of Change, and Eileen Chang: On a Poetics of Involution and Derivation

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pp. 215-241

One aspect yet to be explored in studies of Eileen Chang is her penchant for rewriting existing works in multiple iterations and languages. This essay discusses Chang’s aesthetic of revision and bilingualism by examining her two English...

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pp. 243-247

The quality and range of the papers in this volume speak for themselves. What remains for me to do in this Afterword is to ask the inevitable question—what next? What is to be done when a writer and her works have received too much, not too little, attention, especially in the...


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pp. 249-282


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pp. 283-298

E-ISBN-13: 9789882208858
Print-ISBN-13: 9789888083794

Page Count: 304
Illustrations: 30 b/w
Publication Year: 2012

Edition: 1