A History of Pain: Trauma in Modern Chinese Literature and by Michael Berry

By Michael Berry

The portrayal of ancient atrocity in fiction, movie, and pop culture can display a lot in regards to the functionality of person reminiscence and the transferring prestige of nationwide identification. within the context of chinese language tradition, movies similar to Hou Hsiao-hsien's City of Sadness and Lou Ye's Summer Palace and novels equivalent to Ye Zhaoyan's Nanjing 1937: A Love Story and Wang Xiaobo's The Golden Age jointly reimagine earlier horrors and provides upward thrust to new historic narratives.

Michael Berry takes an leading edge examine the illustration of six particular ancient traumas in smooth chinese language historical past: the Musha Incident (1930); the Rape of Nanjing (1937-38); the February 28 Incident (1947); the Cultural Revolution (1966-76); Tiananmen sq. (1989); and the Handover of Hong Kong (1997). He identifies fundamental modes of restaging historic violence: centripetal trauma, or violence inflicted from the skin that evokes a reexamination of the chinese language state, and centrifugal trauma, which, originating from inside, evokes worrying narratives which are projected out onto a transnational imaginative and prescient of world desires and, occasionally, nightmares.

These modes permit Berry to attach portrayals of mass violence to principles of modernity and the kingdom. He additionally illuminates the connection among historic atrocity on a countrywide scale and the ache skilled via the person; the functionality of movie and literature as historic testimony; the intersection among politics and paintings, historical past and reminiscence; and the actual benefits of recent media, that have stumbled on new technique of narrating the weight of historic violence.

As chinese language artists started to probe formerly taboo features in their nation's background within the ultimate a long time of the 20th century, they created texts that prefigured, echoed, or subverted social, political, and cultural traits. A background of Pain recognizes the far-reaching impression of this paintings and addresses its profound function in shaping the general public mind's eye and conception-as good as misconception-of smooth chinese language history.

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Extra resources for A History of Pain: Trauma in Modern Chinese Literature and Film

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An extreme event is perceived as radically out of joint with one’s mental representation of the world that one receives from one’s family and culture. The mind goes into shock, becomes incapable of translating the impressions of the event into a coherent mental representation. The impressions remain in the mind, intact and unassimilated. Paradoxically, they neither submit to the normal processes of memory storage and recall, nor, returning uninvited, do they allow the event to be forgotten. (15–16) Specific acts of mass violence and atrocity serve as the structuring device for this book, but the focus is on the traumatic response, or pain, as manifested in literary, cinematic, and other cultural texts—the sites where this “crisis of representation” is played out.

5 The suggestion that the iconic moment that supposedly gave rise to Lu Xun’s fictional universe was yet another fiction carries potentially devastating consequences for a series of deeply imbedded literary views. But also under examination is the relationship between history and fiction, or, more succinctly, historical atrocities and fictional representations. What does it mean to be a witness to atrocity? And what does it mean to be a witness to an atrocity that never happened—or was never actually witnessed by anyone save the victims?

Is that it excludes the authoritative narratorial voice, replacing it with the reflections and judgments of characters who, while not duplicitous, are unreliable because of their ignorance or naiveté” (Hanan 180). But in A History of Pain, Wu Jianren uses a very different narrative strategy. Although the third-person narrative freely flows between detached historical accounts and detailed descriptions of the protagonists’ actions, throughout the novel, Wu Jianren constantly interrupts by providing first-person (seemingly authorial) commentary on events, actions, and characters.

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