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Feminine and Masculine Dimensions of Feminist Thought and Transcultural Modernism in Republican China

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image of Frontiers of Literary Studies in China

This study examines critical essays and imaginative fiction by three key writers of the Republican period: Mao Dun, Ba Jin and Lu Yin. I argue that, while Mao Dun and Ba Jin fuse elements of classical Chinese and modern Western sources so as to create strong heroines and a critique of “new men” for the purpose of revolutionary cultural and national reform, Lu Yin foregrounds an inward examination of the self, multiple narrative points of view and a dialogical perspective which fuses her protagonists’ interior consciousness with external reality as well as other characters’ streams of feeling and thought. My reading of Lu Yin’s texts reveals that she not only succeeds in bringing communion and solace to her readers but also creates “moments of being,” markedly similar to Virginia Woolf’s modernist aesthetics and Walter Benjamin’s mosaic-like “moments of recognition,” which allow her characters to perceive “wholeness” from fragmentary flashes of understanding. These intense moments of awareness enhance Lu Yin’s dialogic imagination and enable her to create discursive feminine narratives that convey the full complexity of women’s consciousness while simultaneously resisting the male realist literary discourse and strengthening her feminist-activist agenda in the national public sphere.


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