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The Scope Of The Enquiry

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Chapter Summary

The recent academic discourse that links patterns of modernity in the East Asian region to so-called ‘Asian values’ seems at first sight to present itself as a more fruitful intersection between the discursive terrains of regionalism and alternative modernities. Asia, and its values, are the stated focus here; and this notion of a self-contained regional bloc that is more or less unified in moral temperament promises the possibility of theories about non-Western modernity that proceed more confidently on their own terms. A great mass of writers from Japan and Taiwan choose to pit themselves against the technocratic, rational, and progressive discourse of the modern that constitutes the local orthodoxy. Modernity is harrowing in these texts, and literary tableaux of chaos, social decay, lost affect, and spiritual hollowness seem to succeed one another in a morbidly uninterrupted sequence across the range of fiction produced between 1960–1990.

Keywords: East Asia; Japan; regionalism; Taiwan; Western modernism



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