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Reimagining the Soviet Union in Contemporary Chinese Literature: Soviet Ji in Wang Meng’s In Remembrance of the Soviet Union and Feng Jicai’s Listening to Russia

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image of Frontiers of Literary Studies in China

An examination of Soviet nostalgia—nostalgia for the times when the People’s Republic of China (PRC) had a close relationship with the Soviet Union, as it appears in contemporary discourses that reimagine the Soviet Union, is essential to understand the quotidian aspect and cultural history of the PRC in the 1950s, as well as cultural attitudes in contemporary China. Wang Meng’s In Remembrance of the Soviet Union (2007) and Feng Jicai’s Listening to Russia (2005) are characterized by nostalgia for the lost Soviet Union, which exerted a strong influence on the PRC during the 1950s. In contemporary China, where the market economy is the dominant mode of production, Wang and Feng’s Soviet nostalgia is a gesture of yearning for a type of historical temporality that has seemingly been lost. Their works express the desire to reclaim the historical past of the 1950s, which they portray as having been completely erased by the developmental logic of late-capitalism—the authentic cultural experiences in the 1950s, especially the everyday life along with the revolutionary ideals are rendered unreal within the post-revolutionary logic. The concept of Soviet “ji” (祭, “remembrance”) provides a theoretical framework through which to understand the way in which the phenomenon of Chinese nostalgia has the potential to shift contemporary social reality.


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