This article centers on Zhu Tianwen, Zhu Tianxin, and Zhang Dachun, writers who were born and brought up in the “solders' villages” and have cultivated a condition of marginality that allows them to position themselves as nonbelievers—those who question the truth of any totalizing narrative. The main argument is about what I call a “representation crisis,” the deep feeling that both language and narrative have lost their referent in the post-martial law cultural state in Taiwan. I point out that these writers' mistrust of official histories leads to an inward turn toward personal experiences, whereas the inability to grab a unifying self results in the questioning of language as a useful means to convey meaning; language or narrative as a signifier of an external referent is put into question. I demonstrate how these writers put into relief the fictional quality of both fiction writing and history making and how the intricate network of intertextuality in their stories highlight the parallel between a split self and the failure of the referentiality of language. The end of the paper analyzes the movie A City of Sadness as the epitome of the concept of representation crisis.
Peng Hsiao-yen; Representation Crisis: History, Fiction, and Post Martial Law Writers from the “Soldiers' Villages”. positions 1 May 2009; 17 (2): 375–410. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/10679847-2009-007
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