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588 China Review International: Vol. 4, No. 2, Fall 1997 In the final analysis, tiiis reader was left with the feeling that Yick's thesis needs some modification. In particular, it would seem that the skill of the CCP was only one of several factors that led to the CCP triumph in Beiping and Tianjin. The GMD's troubles with the economy, with corruption, with personal armies (and, presumably, regionalism), with suspicion of students (and especially students who had stayed in North China during the Japanese occupation), and with its identification with collaborators, American soldiers, and the defeated Japanese—all these factors, many ofwhich seem only remotely related to the CCP's North China organizers, probably played at least as large a role in the GMD collapse and defeat. But Yick's contention that the CCP never forgot the cities does seem true enough. Symbolically, the cities, and especially Beiping, were the centers of Chinese civilization and control. In spite of the Yan'an experience, it is hard to imagine that Mao and the other CCP leaders would have been satisfied if they had not been able to capture the cities from within—as, due in large part to the defection of Fu Zuoyi, happened in Beiping and Tianjin. L. Eve Armentrout Ma L. Eve Armentrout Ma is aformer assistantprofessor ofmodern Chinese (and other) history with many articles and some books to her name; she currentlypractices law and runs a nonprofit cultural association. Yingjin Zhang. The City in Modern Chinese Literature and Film: Configurations ofSpace, Time, and Gender. Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1996. xix, 390 pp. Hardcover $45.00, isbn 0-8047-2682-5. The 1990s have seen a dramatic increase in scholarly works on modern Chinese literature. A broad range of approaches has been used to explore issues from realism to contemporary literary thought and the discursive construction modern Chinese culture and modernity. Yingjin Zhang's recent monograph, The City in Modern Chinese Literature and Film: Configurations ofSpace, Time, and Gender, aspires to occupy a portion of the critical space recently created in the field. Indeed , this work ambitiously attempts to address the age-old critical concern of the y mversity relationship between the city and the countryside from a postmodern perspective by reading the "configuration" of the city in the modern Chinese psyche through numerous works of literature (and some film) across the dimensions of space, time, and gender. Zhang seems to reject the monographic (i.e., autiior studies) approach ofHawai'i Press Reviews 589 to modern Chinese literature by cutting across time, treating many "authors" and dealing with both fiction and film from a theoretically informed perspective. "Configuration," the author tells us, occurs at two levels, the textual level and die intellectual or cognitive level (p. 5). The textual level evokes concrete images associated with the city, such as a famous landmark, while the intellectual level articulates how the city makes discursive sense, linking die ideological and cultural elements ofthe city's metaphorical landscape into some kind of"legible" narrative. Somewhat in the fashion of a postmodern writer, Zhang attempts to reveal the ethnographic landscape ofthe modern Chinese city by offering briefglimpses of the city's many facets in the literature he critiques. His numerous plot summaries are tiiematically ordered under general headings and loosely tied together through the juxtaposition of a variety ofthe critical comments from one or another theorist. The overall effect of this critique is rather like that ofthe traditional zhanghui xiaoshuo (serial novel), in which loosely linked chapters place the burden ofinterpretation, ofmaking the text into a comprehensive unity, on the reader's imaginative powers. Thus, the author demonstrates die configuration of the city through the juxtaposition of critical theory and plot summary, rather than theorizing it through direct and detailed exegesis. In effect, this parallels Zhang's privileging ofthe notion of "mentality" over the notion of "historical totality " as a matrix for literary study, where mentality is viewed as spatially dispersed in contrast to the linear progression ofhistorical totality (p. 58). The general structure of this book is sound. Zhang divides it into four main parts: (1) "Perspectives on the City in Modern China," (2) "Configurations of Space," (3) "Configurations of Time...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1527-9367
Print ISSN
1069-5834
Pages
pp. 588-592
Launched on MUSE
2011-03-30
Open Access
No
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