This article provides a systematic study of Canon-Mocking Literature, an important cultural phenomenon in contemporary China. From the combined perspective of stylistics and cultural studies, the article suggests that Canon-Mocking Literature is a subversion of the discursive order of traditional canons, including their underlying aesthetics, morality, and cultural codes. The productive pleasure of Canon-Mocking Literature – that is of parody, collage, and pastiche – thus derives from the undermining of authority within certain limits. The second half of the article analyzes the relationship between the rise of Canon-Mocking Literature and the spread of cynicism in the sociohistorical context of contemporary China. It concludes that Canon-Mocking Literature is a means of cultural resistance and escape in a post-totalitarian society and possesses the dual character of both critique and compromise.

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