Following his 1925–1931 overland trek across southwestern China to colonial Burma, Ai Wu's 1935 Travels in the South (the author's canonical collection of autobiographical travelogue fiction) represents a Sinophonic detouring of the key literary impulses of the author's May Fourth forebears and his left-wing literary contemporaries, especially with its social realist expressions of gendered frontier primitivism, interethnic romantic desire, and international leftist solidarity. Ai Wu's southbound transborder itinerary and “street education”—marked by a repetition of trespasses and evictions—develop a “counterpoetics of trespass” blurring boundaries between social realist fiction and autobiographical travelogue while intertextually rerouting romantic primitivism in depictions of indigenous women through counterpoetically anemic prose. Initially taking his cue from Lu Xun, Ai Wu similarly inscribes his literary mission as one of national redemption but in a way that conforms to the leftist internationalist ideals of the League of Left-Wing Writers, which Ai Wu joined after he was forcibly repatriated to China by British colonial authorities in 1931. Ai Wu's Sinophone transborder counterpoetics activate latent self-reflections on the narrator's own male Han-centric exoticism toward indigenous Shan and Burman women and on his unfulfilled desire to forge meaningful relationships with them. Rather than assimilating or subordinating his depictions of these women into a projection of a Chinese leftist national cause, Ai Wu ultimately sublimates his romantic desires into an allegory for Burma's anticolonial resistance movement.

You do not currently have access to this content.