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136 China Review International: Vol. 4, No. 1, Spring 1997 to imagine a volume with articles by officials of similar statutes being produced in the United States or any other Western nation. It should prove to be of great value to Chinese legal scholars, students ofChinese law, and practicing attorneys. Taken together, these two books provide a diligent reader with a comprehensive understanding ofthe current state ofcommercial regulation in the PRC. The mix ofprimary texts, background materials, and unofficial glosses create a multidimensional treatment of commercial law in the PRC, knowledge that is useful within the legal sphere but which should prove especially useful to scholars in the social sciences who are searching for new perspectives on China's economic and social development. Brian Daly O'Melveny & Myers Brian Daly is an associate at O'Melveny & Meyers specializing in internationalfinance and securities law. WM Karen Gernant. Imagining Women: Fujian Folk Tales. New York: Interlink Books, 1995. Hardcover $29.95, isbn 1-56656-173-6. Paperback $14.95, isbn 1-56656-174-4. Although readers may take exception to the Eurocentric interpretation imposed on this collection offolktales, the stories themselves are delightful. They were selected , translated, and arranged by historian Karen Gernant in order to illustrate her thesis that traditional Chinese women are "strong," "assertive," and "independent ." Gernant's aim is to counter the Euro-American stereotype of Chinese women as "dependent," "submissive," and so forth. Gernant peppers her introductory remarks with this didactic terminology, which, for anyone halffamiliar with the topic, becomes a bit tedious. Gernant is nevertheless explicit about what she intends: "I have imposed an outsider's structure on this collection of folk tales" (p. 1). Moreover, she acknowledges that Chinese readers find nothing unusual in the way women are depicted in these stories. The consequence is ironic: Gernant is trapped in the very same discourse community whose image of the oy mversity "meek" and "submissive" woman she seeks to dispel. By not reflecting on what makes these images ofwomen "Chinese," she in effect retains them as objects of European Amercian-centered (and feminist) discourse. ofHawai'i Press Reviews 137 In building her case for "strong," "independent" Chinese women, Gernant is compelled to question the prevalence and effect ofsuch institutions as footbinding, female infanticide, arranged marriage, and widow suicide. Forget that these were very different kinds ofinstitutions, or that they affected different women in different ways, or that, with the exception ofmarriage, her selection of folktales does not address these customary practices; the presumption is thatwomen who bound their feet, for instance, became the abject victims ofpatriarchy. Iffootbinding victimized women and made them submissive, then, following Gernant's line ofreasoning , it could not have been a very popular institution because Chinese women were "strong," "independent," and "able." The terms ofdiscourse—"strong women" versus "meek women"—simply obfuscate any serious attempt to understand the traditional roles of Chinese women whether in fantasy or in historical reality. Gernant does, however, give us the wonderful tales themselves. These stories involve all kinds ofordinary and extraordinary people, immortals , demigods, demons, and monsters. There is a preponderance ofyoung lovers (the whole ofpart 2) whose desires are thwarted by thoughtless parents and cruel stepparents, and there are ordinary, hardworking people who cope and battle with corrupt and tyrannical agents ofthe gentry class or with the natural and cosmic calamities that happen when monstrous figures move up the rivers and through the mountains. Not all is calamitous and tragic, however. There is some justice, happiness, and occasional humor, as in "Axiu Cleverly Reads a Strange Letter." Here and in several other stories, a husband goes offto Southeast Asia to make money. In this story he remits money to his wife, Axiu, through a courier, who attempts to embezzle part ofthe remittance; but Axiu, who is illiterate, deciphers the word game embedded in the animal drawings on her husband's accompanying letter, which specify the exact amount remitted, and with this she is able to confront the courier with his shameful misdeed. Many tales take place on thresholds that join the living world ofthe hereand -now to the spiritual world ofthe hereafter and heretofore. Several tales depict immortals who prefer living in the here-and-now, while...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1527-9367
Print ISSN
1069-5834
Pages
pp. 136-138
Launched on MUSE
2011-03-30
Open Access
No
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