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Pastoral Aspirations, Responsibilities and Strategies: A Novelist’s Solution for the Moral Crisis in China

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image of Frontiers of Literary Studies in China

Since the late 1970s China has implemented sweeping economic reforms for almost 40 years. At the same time, it has not officially adjusted its previous moral code. As a result, the country is now faced with a widespread moral crisis characterized by greed and anomie. To offer a remedy for this crisis in his novel The Door of the Sheep (1999), Li Peifu, a noted writer from Henan Province, creates a village leader intent on maintaining his authoritative moral position as a shepherd by restraining his corporeal desires and exercising his authority on his flock and for his flock. In a subsequent novel entitled Gold House (2000), Li highlights the pervasive moral disorientation in a village where nobody assumes a pastoral position. The present article analyzes these two novels in connection with the sociopolitical environment of contemporary China. Special attention will be paid to Li’s interpretation of human selfishness as the root cause of the moral crisis and his attempt to offer a politically feasible and morally effective solution.

Affiliations: 1: Department of Classical, Middle Eastern, and Asian Languages and Cultures, Queens College, The City University of New York


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