The title of this essay implies that there is a Chinese postmodernism that differs from American or European postmodernism. But the different postmodernisms also have a common basis, which can be found at the level of unstable signification. First the author briefly sketches how the concept of postmodernism traveled from the United States to western Europe and Russia, with key roles for American critics such as John Barth, Leslie Fiedler, Ihab Hassan, and Matei Calinescu and, in Europe, writers such as Umberto Eco and the reception of Jorge Luis Borges and Vladimir Nabokov. To the author, Chinese postmodernism differs from other variants of postmodernism because of its different cultural-historical and literary-historical background. With few exceptions, modernism was a late discovery in China. After 1978 Wang Meng, Zhang Jie, Wang Anyi, and others wrote fiction in a modernist style. The simultaneity of modernism and postmodernism is a clue to the interpretation of Chinese fiction of the 1980s and 1990s. Postmodernist exuberant fabulation, partly inspired by Gabriel García Márquez and partly by traditional Chinese fiction, can be found in fiction by Mo Yan, Yu Hua, and Han Shaogong. Please Don't Call Me Human (Qianwan bie ba wo dang ren, 1989), by Wang Shuo, who was recently honored with a Chinese compilation of “research material concerning Wang Shuo” (Tianjin, 2005), is also discussed.
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Douwe Fokkema; Chinese Postmodernist Fiction. Modern Language Quarterly 1 March 2008; 69 (1): 141–165. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/00267929-2007-029
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