A turbulent history of rebellion, repression and resistance shaped Taiwanese literature
James Baron / Contributing Writer
Christopher Lupke, who recently visited Taiwan, gave a lecture on translating Taiwanese literary classics at events held in Taipei and Tainan. They are sponsored by the National Museum of Taiwan Literature and have collaborated with Cambria Press to publish this book.
In a Facebook post, Rupke called Taiwan, where he lived in the 1980s, a “perfectly welcoming community” that felt “safer than anywhere else in the world.”
As Rupke’s landmark translation of the book shows, this was not always the case. Ye Shi Tao (also spelled Ye Shi Tao, Ye Shi Tao) demonstrates this indirectly by revealing the connections between Taiwanese literary figures and the country’s tumultuous socio-political landscape.
Under Qing rule, Taiwan had a famous experience. Rebellion every five years (three-year one-tan, five-year-ichiran)”, and the big uproar of this period is taken up in the opening chapter.
One of the first efforts to establish a literary culture in Taiwan was the Eastern Song Poetry Society. One of the group’s co-founders, Shen Guangwen (成光文), was an official of Nanming, a resistance force against the Qing dynasty. While evading Qing forces, Shen’s ship was blown over to Taiwan by a typhoon. It seems fitting that political turmoil and raging weather landed him here.
Ushering in a new era, Ji Qi Guang, a contemporary of Shen’s Oriental Song, wrote, “Taiwan didn’t start having literature, but now it does.” As if to foreshadow the Taiwan New Literature Movement and indigenous literature controversy, a turning point in 20th-century Taiwanese literature, these poets-scholars were “full of nostalgia for their homeland and expressed passionate feelings of patriotic resentment. I wrote a poem.
The official Blue Dingyuan (Blue Dingyuan) came to Taiwan to assist his cousin Blue Tingzhen (regional military commander) in suppressing the Chu Yi-kuei rebellion in 1721. rice field. Lan Ting-yuan provided a valuable account of the rebellion in two of his posthumously published works, despite being “more familiar with ancient strategies for bringing about social order than with literary arts.” I admit I did.
Another literary figure brought to Taiwan by the rebellion was Huang Shujin. Juan’s observations about Bender, who “honks his horn all day and makes miserable noises,” sounds like his modern-day Facebook complaint.
The civil war also drew the poet Zhao Yi (趙蟥) to these shores, who doubled as a military adviser to the Qing during the Lin Shuangwen Rebellion of 1787-1788. From 1862 he led the Dai Chao Chun Rebellion in 1865. Lin Zhanmei’s contribution to social stability was greater, but Chen Zhaoxing’s “frank and sweet” poetry was superior. They “have significant historical value” in depicting the uprising.
Japanese colonial era
After the turmoil during the Japanese rule subsided, the risks for literati changed. People such as Tsai Wei-shui and Tsai Pei-huo were involved in crackdowns such as the 1923 Peace and Order and Police Act (POPA) incident (here translated as Police Action Incident). I was. .
Curiously, there is no mention of Lai Ho being arrested in the same raid, but the subsequent imprisonment and torture that led to his untimely death in 1943 are covered. As a standard-bearer of the Taiwan New Literature Movement, Lai promoted the use of Chinese and the Taiwanese language, and is considered the father of Taiwan New Literature.
Contemporaries such as Huang Shihui and Guo Qisheng, whose names disappeared before being rediscovered in the mid-1970s indigenous literary controversy, have been given due attention. Along with dozens of other writers, theorists, and publishers, these pioneers reflected China’s May Fourth Movement on the change in writing form from classical to dialectal Chinese. I did my best. It also spurred content changes.
As the new literature entered its “mature stage”, disagreements arose as to the correct direction. For some, the goal was to reconstruct China’s cultural heritage. [the] peculiar nativist tendencies. For others, such as Yang Kui, who were deeply influenced by Russian realism, the focus was Taiwan’s soil and the people who cultivate it.
In the days of the White Terror and martial law, literary figures, including Ye himself, were in dire straits. Routinely imprisoned, and worse, many practiced self-censorship or withdrew from literary activity.
In the 1950s, the new literary movement “sinked almost into oblivion” and left “a rift in Taiwan’s literary tradition”, but this decade’s chapters offer a fascinating perspective. Compared to European works such as Arthur Koestler’s novel Darkness at Noon, government-sponsored Taiwanese anti-communist fiction is “breathtaking in complete bankruptcy.”
Writers from the “mainland” were “totally unfamiliar with the land, … almost completely ignorant of its history and of the people who lived there,” says Yeh. They didn’t try to understand the “ideas and aspirations” of Taiwanese people, and “didn’t even think about getting to know them.”
Given their usually privileged backgrounds, these authors rarely even offered insight into the lives of China’s lower classes. , says Yeh. On the contrary, “when it comes to the authentic experience of Taiwanese commoners, they have failed to provide anything satisfactory.”
This is an excellent resource for English speakers interested in Taiwan’s literary history. However, as Lupke admits in the introduction, the text can read like a laundry list, digging in rather than turning pages. Still, there’s something exciting about having hundreds of names at your fingertips. A vast amount of footnotes unfolds about the lives of these individuals, and you can easily be dragged into a tangential Internet exploration.
Although the number of works available in English is increasing, thanks to the Taiwanese Colombian Contemporary Chinese Literature series and more recently independent publishers such as Camphor and Cambria, the book reveals untapped potential. increase. We must hope that the forgotten gem will see more light.
In his acknowledgments, Rupke notes that “the publication of translations has been stagnant for more than a decade for a variety of reasons contained in the general rubric of life that mediates all stages.”
Given the services he provided to complete the task, it may seem disrespectful to focus on the shortcomings, but as has been the case with previous Cumbria publications (all reviewed as geraproof) There are typos and unwieldy construction throughout.
Especially jarring is the translation of the title of a book already known in English under another name. Examples include Tehpen Tsai’s Sweet Potato Elegy (Lamentations of the Potatoes), translated as “Yam’s Child’s Elegy”, and Wang Wenxing’s (Wang Wenxing)’s Family Catastrophe (Family Change) as “Family Transformation.” ” is translated. Some of these are more literal, but the approval of previous publications seems to be a prerequisite for any project to bring Taiwanese literature to an English-speaking audience.
Taiwanese Literary History
By Ye Shitao 404 pages Cambria Press Hardcover, Paperback, E-Book: US
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