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268 China Review International: Vol. 2, No. 1, Spring 1995 manacles, and leg irons for prisoners or slaves. Chapter 5 discusses die iron industry ofthe third century b.c. as seen through written sources, while chapters 6 and 7 deal with archaeological evidence concerning the actual technology used in iron production in ancient China. This consists largely of studies of die microstructures of ancient iron artifacts. Chapter 8 draws together the book's discussions in a more speculative mood, seeking to indicate the historical causes and effects of the series of technological choices made in iron production in China and in particular of the development of and dependence on large-scale production technology (blast furnaces producing cast iron). This prompts reflections of a similar kind on the Western adoption of small-scale production technology (bloomery furnaces producing wrought iron). Mary E. Tiles University of Hawai'i m David Der-wei Wang. Fictional Realism in Twentieth-Century China: Mao Dun, Lao She, Shen Congwen. New York: Columbia University Press, 1992. 367 pp. Hardcover $45.00. One can treat the word Realism as a fixed term denoting a particular form of fiction writing developed in Europe in the nineteenth century, and adopted to varying degrees and with varying results by writers from other cultures; or one can view Realism as an open concept referring to the diverse ways writers write about the Real. Marston Anderson took the former stance in his recent work The Limits ofRealism: Chinese Fiction in the Revolutionary Period (University of California Press, 1990), in which he found that the realist mode, strictiy defined, failed to serve the needs of writers such as Lu Xun, Ye Shaozhun, Mao Dun, and Zhang Tianyi in die early post-May Fourth period. David Der-wei Wang, in the book under review, takes the second approach, demonstrating how three major Chinese writers of the '30s and '40s represent the Real in their prose works. Taken together, these two groundbreaking books widi their complementary approaches provide rich insights into a complex and thorny issue which has long been recog_ ,„„-, TT . nized as crucial to the understanding of modern Chinese literature, but which has© 1995 by Universityb ofHawai'i Presson^ now recervea adequate scholarly treatment. Wang structures his book around a diree-generational family tree, beginning with Lu Xun as the founder of modern discourse in China, followed by the three Reviews 269 writers to whom most of the book is devoted—Mao Dun, Lao She, and Shen Congwen—each ofwhom expanded on some aspects of Lu Xun's work, and ending widi an overview of a dozen or so contemporary writers from Taiwan and the PRC who further develop the fictional modes of their predecessors. In the Introduction, Wang discusses several of Lu Xun's stories, exploring the complexity of Lu Xun's views ofthe real and his ways ofrepresenting reality in fiction, and dien outlining the way in which his methods and concerns are inherited and developed by die diree authors under discussion. He finds tiiat Mao Dun embraces realist theory and concentrates on die description ofhistorical moments and political forces; Lao She carries on Lu Xun's "hard-core realism" and his satirical strain, which in Lao She's exaggerated style turn into melodrama and farce; and Shen Congwen develops die lyrical and nostalgic modes found in Lu Xun's homecoming stories. This is not the first time a critic has identified Mao Dun as a writer who is interested in capturing the panorama of a particular time and place, or shown how Lao She used humor and melodrama to expose the social ills ofhis time, or noticed nostalgic regionalism in Shen Congwen's lyrical prose; nor is it the first time someone has seen the seeds of all these modes in Lu Xun's writings. What distinguishes this book from its predecessors is its emphasis on how and why each of these writers tried to represent the world around him widi words on paper. Many fascinating and difficult questions are implied in diis investigation: Why did these writers try to describe the world around tiiemselves in the first place? What did diey see as the Real aspects ofdiat world? How did...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1527-9367
Print ISSN
1069-5834
Pages
pp. 268-272
Launched on MUSE
2011-03-30
Open Access
No
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