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564 China Review International: Vol. 4, No. 2, Fall 1997 as silver. It was the "lifeblood oflocal commerce" (p. 257), and thanks to von Glahn's detailed and insightful study we now know much more about its importance. Brian Moloughney University of Otago Brian Moloughney's research interests include late imperial history and Chinese historical writing. Jing Wang. High Culture Fever: Politics, Aesthetics and Ideology in Deng's China. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1996. x, 376 pp. Hardcover $50.00, isbn 0-520-20294-5. Paperback $20.00, isbn 0-520-20295-3. This is an outstanding and pathbreaking book. Jing Wang has made a very important contribution to China studies, and my judgment is that High Culture Fever has redefined our field. There are new questions and new approaches implied by her work that have implications for all disciplines examining the China question . The posing of new questions and new approaches is arguably long overdue, considering how much China has been transformed and its place in the world has changed over the past twenty years. This book should therefore be required reading for anyone who reads China Review International. The text is comprised of seven essays, each focusing on "a historic moment of danger and indeterminacy: the outbreak ofthe debate over socialist alienation and Marxist humanism in 1983; Culture Fever in 1985; the controversy over the TV series Heshangin 1988; the proposition of "pseudomodernism" during the same year; the emergent problematic of subjectivity from 1985 onward; the rise of the pseudoproposition of postmodernism in the late 1980s; and the dialogue of 'the Wang Shuo phenomenon' with a rampant popular culture in the early 1990s" (p. 4). It would appear that Professor Wang is going over well-trodden ground, as there is already extensive literature on much of this, but her book addresses these questions in a much more sophisticated and erudite manner than anything that I have read on these topics in Western languages or in Chinese. Moreover it isn't so much what she is looking at as the way she looks at it. It is her approach to© 1997 by University ¡^^ about china ^ as Howard Goldblatt puts it in the publisher's blurb tucked into my review copy, will establish this book as "one of the most noted and discussed scholarly works in our field and will furtiier establish its author as one of modern China's foremost cultural critics." Reviews 565 As a Student of Chinese politics, my interest in this book is ofcourse different from that ofmy colleagues in literary criticism. The subtitle is "Politics, Aesthetics and Ideology in Deng's China." My scholarly focus has been more on politics and ideology and less on aesthetics. Frankly, I find the sections where the book analyzes the content of short stories the least interesting parts. Moreover, the tone ofthe book is sometimes pedantic and die prose too often rather tortured (a shortcoming that I didn't notice in the footnotes, which are very clear). This could reflect a lack ofconfidence on the part of an author who has a lot to feel confident about. She is wonderfully erudite and intellectually sophisticated. She cites an enormous quantity ofliterature. She has brilliant insights into the Chinese condition. Moreover, while Jing Wang has not converted me from politics to literary criticism as a vocation, thanks to her I am now very taken with the importance of "aesthetics" as a factor for analysis on a par with politics and ideology . "Because Confucianist and Marxist indoctrination deprived people of authentic experiences (that is, genuine self-expression in verbal, physical, sexual and epistemological terms), vision making about democracy, fantasy making of the potent sexual selfin literature and the construction of the theory of subjectivity have become tantalizing national hobbies." Wang mentions the name ofTu Wei-ming a number of times in her text, not always unfavorably, but she does suggest tiiat "his evasiveness about the problematic implications of the neo-Confucian renaissance in the context ofmainland politics is disturbing" (pp. 300-301 n. 51). Professor Wang also sees elements of defense of "patriarchal elitism" in his defense of Confucianism (p. 302 n. 56). The section on Confucianism is outstanding. She also...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1527-9367
Print ISSN
1069-5834
Pages
pp. 564-566
Launched on MUSE
2011-03-30
Open Access
No
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