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From a young Bolshevik to a professional writer : A critical study of Wang Meng 's novels with reference to his writing from the 1950s to the 1990s

Wang Meng is one of China's most high profile and prolific writers, having produced a substantial body of fictional work since the 1950s, much of which has surprised readers and critics alike because of its high level of innovation, and because of its challenge to the dominant Chinese traditional literary discourse. Wang Meng is significant for employing new fictional forms and styles as vehicles for examining the contentious issues that arise in Chinese society. His works are often regarded as a mirror to reflect developments in society during different stages, and in different political situations. In recent years, Wang Meng has continued to explore universal themes and unique representational modes, but prefers to locate them within the Chinese tradition in his writing. It would be hard to think of another writer in China that could compare with Wang Meng, in terms of his rich and highly productive literary works; his complex and unusual personal life experiences; his consummate writing skill; his writing techniques; his wellplanned literary structures; his colourful use of narrative voice; his talent in using his own style of fictional language; his ability to appropriate literary styles from a diverse range of sources, both traditional and modem, Chinese and foreign, and synthesise them into something uniquely his own; his courage and his liberal values; his close attention to developments in society; his tumultuous political life; his setbacks and successes as a professional writer. This thesis focuses on an analysis of Wang Meng's major literary works from the early 1950s to the 1990s. It utilizes established Western critical theories such as: realism, Socialist Realism, modernism, postmodemism and "stream-of-consciousness". It provides a focused textual analysis of a number of Wang Meng's stories that emerged in the broad context of contemporary Chinese literature. It aims to decode a selection of Wang Meng's major representative works published between the 1950s and the 1990s, and attempts to interpret the characteristics of Wang Meng's writing at different stages. By doing so, the thesis attempts to enrich and develop the established Western theories referred to above by means of an analytical rereading of the selected texts. The thesis consists of five chapters, with an introduction and a conclusion. The introduction provides some preliminary remarks, and outlines some general but fundamental issues, as well as a brief note on Wang Meng's life. Chapter one begins with an examination of fictional writing as the main form in contemporary Chinese literature, followed by a further comparative discussion of Wang Meng's novels and short stories, to locate his place in the Chinese literary world. Chapter two applies realism, in particular, Socialist Realism, as one of the literary theories to examine Wang Meng's early works. Chapter three mainly attempts to evaluate the narrative technique in Wang Meng's stories, with special reference to his experimental works which were published in the late 1970s and early 1980s. Chapter four studies the influence of Western stream-of-consciousness in Wang Meng's fiction writing, with detailed reference to his two short stories: Eyes of the Night and Dream of the Sea. Chapter five makes a close reading of Wang Meng's Bolshevik Salute, which revolves around a basic theme-the quest for the self as an individual entity with a degree of coherence and intelligibility. The final chapter draws together some concluding remarks pertaining to the thesis as a whole.
Type of thesis
Wang, X. (2004). From a young Bolshevik to a professional writer : A critical study of Wang Meng ’s novels with reference to his writing from the 1950s to the 1990s (Thesis, Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)). The University of Waikato, Hamilton, New Zealand. Retrieved from https://hdl.handle.net/10289/13281
The University of Waikato
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