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Chapter Summary

This introductory chapter presents an overview of the book. The focus of the book is coming of age in troubled times as portrayed in contemporary Chinese chengzhang xiaoshuo/Bildungsroman fiction. Selected works of two major Chinese writers - Su Tong and Yu Hua - are treated as cultural metaphors reflecting on the growth and future of Chinese youth in the abnormal era of the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution. The book discusses how this fiction's images of youth deviate from the one promoted by Mao Zedong, in which Chinese youths are compared to "the sun at eight or nine in the morning" and the socialist new man. The overall thesis and ensuing discussions about the tragic and parodistic nature of Su Tong's and Yu Hua's chengzhang xiaoshuo are illustrated from two comparative perspectives: the terrain of modern Chinese chengzhang xiaoshuo, and the theoretical framework of traditional European Bildungsroman.

Keywords: Chinese chengzhang xiaoshuo; European Bildungsroman; Su Tong; Yu Hua



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