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Crime or Punishment? On the Forensic Discourse of Modern Chinese Literature
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1. Zheng Zhenduo, "Xue he lei de wenxue" (Literature of blood and tears), in Zheng Zhenduo xuanji (Works of Zheng Zhenduo) (Fuzhou: Fujian renmin chubanshe, 1984), 1097. [BACK]

2. The most blatant example in this regard is perhaps the continued invention of cruel penal forms throughout Chinese history. See Wang Yongkuan, Zhongguo gudai kuxing (Cruel forms of punishment) (Taipei: Yunlong chubanshe, 1991). Also see Jonathan N. Lipman and Steven Havrell, eds., Violence in China: Essays in Culture and Counterculture (Albany: State University of New York Press, 1990). [BACK]

3. See, for example, Law in Imperial China: Exemplified by 190 Ch'ing Dynasty Cases (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1973); Hugh T. Scogin Jr., "Civil Law in Traditional China: History and Theory," in Civil Law in Qing and Republican China, ed. Kathryn Bernheart and Philip C. Huang (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1994), 13–41; Clifford Geertz, "Local Knowledge: Fact and Law in Comparative Perspective," in Local Knowledge (New York: Basic Books, 1983), 167–235. [BACK]

4. I am referring in particular to the book edited by Nancy Armstrong and Leonard Tennenhouse, The Violence of Representation: Literature and the History of Violence (New York: Routledge, 1989). See their introduction, 1–26. [BACK]

5. Chen Duxiu, "Wenxue geming lun" (On literary revolution), in Duxiu wencun (Writings of Chen Duxiu), vol. 1 (Shanghai: Yadong tushuguan, 1931), 135–40. [BACK]

6. Lu Xun, "Kuangren riji" (Diary of a madman), in Lu Xun Quanji, vol. 1 (Complete works of Lu Xun) (Beijing: Renmin wenxue chubanshe, 1981), 420. [BACK]


7. Liu Zaifu, "Zhongguo xiandai xiaoshuo de zhengzhishi xiezuo: cong ‘Chuncan’ dao Taiyang zhaozai Sanggan heshang" (The politics of writing in modern Chinese literature: From "Spring Silkworms" to The Sun Shines over the Sanggan River), in Fangzhu zhushen: Wenlun tigang he wenxueshe chongping (Exiling gods: Outlines of literary theory and rereadings of literary history) (Hong Kong: Tiandi tushu gongsi, 1994), 133–34, 140. [BACK]

8. See Armstrong and Tennenhouse, Violence, 1–26. [BACK]

9. Ibid., 9 [BACK]

10. Zhang Taiyan published "Ruxia pian" (On the scholarly knight) in Yadong shibao (East Asian times) in 1899, arguing that the concept and practice of traditional chivalric knight-errantry, or xia, is derived from the Confucian scholarly tradition. See Wang Yue's discussion in "Zhang Taiyan de ruxia guan jiqi lishi yiyi" (Zhang Taiyan's concept of the scholarly knight and its historical significance), in Xia yu Zhongguo wenhua (Knight-errantry and Chinese culture), ed. Department of Chinese, Tamkang University (Taipei: Xuesheng shuju, 1993), 269–86. See Wendy Larson's discussion in Literary Authority and the Modern Chinese Writer: Ambivalence and Autobiography (Durham: Duke University Press, 1991), 31–59. [BACK]

11. Literature, of course, babbles on about injustice and revolution, but these are just terms in the new masternarrative. The silences are about actual cruelties and actual repetitions, and the worst silence is the one about literary complicity, because it does representational violence to representation itself. [BACK]

12. Liu E, Lao Can youji (The travels of Lao Can) (Taipei: Lianjing chuban gongsi, 1983), 2. [BACK]

13. Ibid., 245. Throughout my essay I will use the term "incorruptible" to mean specifically "not bribable." [BACK]

14. This appears in chapter 6 of Laocan youji. See C. T. Hsia's discussion in "The Travels of Lao Ts'an: An Exploration of Its Arts and Meaning," Ts'ing Hua Journal of Chinese Studies 7, no. 2 (1969): 40–66. [BACK]

15. Liu E, The Travels of Lao Ts'an, trans. Harold Shadick (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1952), 70. [BACK]

16. See C. T. Hsia, "Travels," 50–52 and n. 31. [BACK]

17. The Yellow River in this area is less than a mile wide and is rimmed by small dikes built and maintained by the farmers whose land they protect. The government-built dikes are massive embankments twenty feet high and are up to three miles away from the water. The land between the two dikes is fertile and thickly populated. See Harold Shadick's note in his translation of Li, Travels, 262. [BACK]

18. See Liu E's commentary at the end of chapter 13 of Travels, 124. [BACK]

19. Ibid., 259–66. [BACK]

20. Liu E may not have been aware of the potential for this ironic reading. Schematically, however, his novel encourages us to apply on the celestial level the same rules he has been applying to terrestrial justice. By mentioning the bureaucracy of Hell in the context of the failures of human bureaucracy, Liu E sets up the comparison. [BACK]

21. Li Boyuan, Huo diyu (Living hell) (Taipei: Guangya shuju, 1984), 1. I am using Douglas Lancashire's translation, quoted from Lancashire, Li Po-yuan (Boston: Twayne, 1978), 64–65. [BACK]

22. It was the second of Li Boyuan's novels serialized in his magazine Xiuxiang xiaoshuo (Illustrated fiction). The novel comprises forty-three chapters; like most of other novels by Li Boyuan, it remains incomplete. Li died when he had finished chapter 39. Chapters 40 to 42 were added by his friend, the novelist Wu Jianren. The last chapter is said to have been written by Ouyang Juyuan, Li's friend and the assistant editor of Illustrated Fiction. The novel was not published in book form till 1956 in Shanghai, under the auspices of the well-known scholar Zhao Jingshen. [BACK]


23. Lancashire, Li Po-yuan, 63. [BACK]

24. Here, I am partially indebted to Lyotard's concept of justice. See Jean-Francois Lyotard and Jean-Loup Thebaud, Just Gaming (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1979), 25–26. [BACK]

25. Li Boyuan, Huo diyu, 72. [BACK]

26. The first is a long aluminum pipe circled all around the prisoner's body. The attendants inject boiling water at one end of the pipe and let it flow slowly to the other end. The second is a form of capital punishment, meaning to put five nails into the four limbs and the chest of the prisoner. The third is three iron sticks used to beat the prisoner. By pressing one iron stick on the prisoner's chest and the other on his legs, the courtroom attendants check the prisoner's breath at the two ends of his body and force it to accumulate in his stomach. They then use the third stick to beat the prisoner's stomach, and with one loud sound, all the intestines will burst out. [BACK]

27. Michel Foucault, Discipline and Punish: The Birth of the Prison, trans. Alan Sheridan (New York: Pantheon, 1977), 24–85. [BACK]

28. Lao Can is compared to Sherlock Holmes in chapter 18 for his investigation of the aforementioned murder case. [BACK]

29. Lu Xun, preface to Nahan (A call to arms), in Lu Xun quanji (Complete works of Lu Xun), vol. 1 (Beijing: Renmin wenxue chubanshe, 1981), 417. [BACK]

30. David Derwei Wang, "Lu Xun, Shen Congwen, and Decapitation," in Politics, Ideology, and Literary Discourse in Modern China: Theoretical Interventions and Cultural Critique, ed. Liu Kang and Tang Xiaobing (Durham: Duke University Press, 1993), 174–87. [BACK]

31. Lun Xun, preface to Nahan, 417. [BACK]

32. Ibid. [BACK]

33. T. A. Hsia, The Gate of Darkness (Seattle: University of Washington Press, 1968), 146. [BACK]

34. Lu Xun seems to have understood the full meaning of late Qing intellectual chivalry; one cannot always say this for the writers after him, who too often thought they had passed through the gate and left the late Qing far behind them. [BACK]

35. For a discussion of the rise and development of Chinese court-case drama, see Zeng Yongyi, Zhongguo gudian xiju de renshi yu xinshang (An introduction to and appraisal of classical Chinese drama) (Taipei: Zhengzhong shuju, 1991), 55. [BACK]

36. Ouyang Yuqian, Pan Jinlian (Pan Jinlian), in vol. 1 of Ouyang Yuqian wenji (Works of Ouyang Yuqian) (Beijing: Renmin wenxue chubanshe, 1984), 90. [BACK]

37. Ibid., 93. [BACK]

38. See Bai Wei, afterword to Dachu youling ta (Breaking out of the tower of ghosts), in Bai Wei zuopinji (Works of Bai Wei) (Changsha: Hunan renmin chubanshe, 1985), 77. [BACK]

39. Lu Xun, "Lun Leifeng ta de daodiao," in Lu Xun Quanji, vol. 1 (Beijing: Renmin wenxue chubanshe, 1981), 174–77. [BACK]

40. Bai Wei, Dachu youling ta, 64. [BACK]

41. Ibid., 75. [BACK]

42. Zhu Yiqui, Zhongguo xiandai xijushi (History of modern Chinese drama) (Guilin: Guanxi renmin chubanshe, 1981), 234–36. [BACK]

43. See, for example, Meng Yue and Dai Jinhua, Fuchu lishi dibiao: Zhongguo xiandai nuxing wenxue yanjiu (Voices emerging from the foreground of history: A study of contemporary Chinese women's literature) (Taipei: Shibao chuban gongsi, 1993), 227–30. [BACK]

44. Marston Anderson, The Limits of Realism: Chinese Fiction in the Revolutionary Period (Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press, 1990), 44. [BACK]


45. T. A. Hsia, Gate of Darkness, 55–59. [BACK]

46. Ibid. Also see Leo Oufan Lee, The Romantic Generation of Modern Chinese Writers (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1973), 201–21. [BACK]

47. Jiang Guangci, Paoxiao de tudi (The roaring earth), vol. 2 of Jiang Guangci wenji (Selected works of Jiang Guangci) (Shanghai: Shanghai wenyi chubanshe, 1982), 374. [BACK]

48. See Anthony Kubiak, Stages of Terror, Terrorism, Ideology, and Coercion as Theater History (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1991), 148. One way to live with terror is to repress it, to survive it by choosing to be unconscious of it, as Li Jie does literally. [BACK]

49. Jiang Guangci, Paoxiao de tudi, 374. [BACK]

50. Wu Zuxiang, "Young Master Gets His Tonic," trans. Cyril Birch, in Modern Chinese Short Stories and Novellas: 1919–1949, ed. C. T. Hsia, Joseph Lau, and Leo Oufan Lee (New York: Columbia Press, 1981), 381. [BACK]

51. Part of the plot summary is derived from that of Marston Anderson, Limits, 198. [BACK]

52. C. T. Hsia, A History of Modern Chinese Fiction (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1971), 284–85; Philip Williams, Village Echoes: The Fiction of Wu Zuxiang (Boulder: Westview Press, 1993), 82–84. [BACK]

53. C. T. Hsia, History, 286. [BACK]

54. Wu Zuxiang, "Yiqian babai dan" (Eighteen hundred piculs of rice), in Wu Zuxiang (Taipei: Haifeng chubanshe, 1990), 158–59. [BACK]

55. See, for example, Merle Goldman, Literary Dissent in Communist China (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1967), 1–50. Few literary historians have noticed that, right after Mao delivered his talks, the Nationalist Party retaliated by commissioning Zhang Daofan, a playwright and literary propagandist, to advocate a literature based on Sun Yatsen's Three Principles of the People. This policy would eventually become the backbone of the anti-Communist literature that the Nationalist Party promoted in Taiwan of the fifties and sixties. A comparative reading of both Nationalist and Communist literary policies indicates, ironically, a parallel between them in theory and practice, despite the fact that they were meant as antagonistic discourses. See Cheng Minglee, "Dangdai Taiwan wenyi zhengce de fazhan, yingxiang, yu jiaotao" (On the development, impact, and consequences of the literary policy in contemporary Taiwan), in Dangdai Taiwan zhengzhi wenxue lun (Politics and contemporary Taiwanese literature), ed. Cheng Minglee (Taipei: Shibao chuban gongsi, 1994), 1–20. Also see my article "Reinventing National History: Communist and Anti-Communist Fiction from 1946 to 1955," in China in the Transitional Period: 1946–1955, ed. William Kirby (Cambridge: Harvard University Press), forthcoming. [BACK]

56. See my article "Reinventing National History," in China in the Transnational Period, ed. Kirby. [BACK]

57. C. T. Hsia, History, 326–60. Also see Theodore Huters, "Hu Feng and the Critical Legacy of Lu Xun," in Lu Xun and His Legacy, ed. Leo Oufan Lee (Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press, 1985), 129–52. [BACK]

58. See David E. Apter and Tony Saich's discussion in Revolutionary Discourse in Mao's Republic (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1994), 243–92. [BACK]

59. Yitsi Mei Feuerwerker, The Fiction of Ding Ling (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1982), 114. Also see Tani Barlow, with Gary Bjorge, ed., I Myself Am a Woman (Boston: Beacon Press, 1989), 34–45. [BACK]

60. Ding Ling, "When I Was in Hsia Village," trans. Gary Bjorge, in Modern Chinese Stories and Novellas: 1919–1949, ed. Joseph Lau, C. T. Hsia, and Leo Oufan Lee (New York: Columbia Press, 1981), 274. [BACK]


61. This argument can be read in light of Apter and Saich's recent discussion where they borrow Baudrillard's theory to describe an effect of simulacrum in the production of the revolutionary discourse and revolutionary site, Revolutionary Discourse, 224–62. [BACK]

62. See Huang Ziping's succinct discussion in "Bing de yinyu yu wenxue shengchan: Ding Ling de ‘Zai yiyuan zhong’ ji qita" (The metaphor of illness and literary production: Ding Ling's "In the Hospital" and other works), in Zai jiedu: Dazhong wenyi yu yishi xingtai (Rereading: Mass literature and ideology), ed. Tang Xiaobing (Hong Kong: Oxford University Press, 1993), 51–67. [BACK]

63. Ding Ling, "When I Was in Hsia Village," 268. [BACK]

64. Merle Goldman, Literary Dissent, 67–86. [BACK]

65. Lu Ling, Ji'e de Guo Su'e (Hungry Guo Su'e) (Beijing: Beijing renmin chubanshe, 1988), 103. [BACK]

66. Ibid., 104. [BACK]

67. See Feuerwerker, Fiction, 136–46. [BACK]

68. Ibid., 139–40. Also see Apter and Saich, Revolutionary Discourse 263–332. [BACK]

69. Liu Zaifu and Lin Gang, Fangzhu zhushen: Wenlun tigang he wenxueshi chongping (Exiling the gods: Outlines of literary theory and reappraisal of literary history) (Hong Kong: Tiandi tushu, 1994), 130 [BACK]

70. Ibid., 124–25. [BACK]

71. Roland Barthes, Writing Degree Zero, trans. Annete Lavers and Colin Smith (New York: Hill and Wang, 1978), 71. [BACK]

72. Ding Ling, Taiyang zhaozai Sanggan heshang (The sun shines over the Sanggan River), vol. 1 of Ding Ling xuanji (Selected works of Ding Ling) (Chengdu: Sichuan renmin chuban-she, 1984), 300. English translation from C. T. Hsia, History, 486. [BACK]

73. Zhou Libo, Baofeng zouyu (Hurricane) (Changsha: Hunan renmin chubanshe, 1983), 174. See Tang Xiaobing's discussion in "Baoli de bianzheng fa" (The dialectic of violence), in Zai Jiedu: Dazhong wenyi yu yishi xingtai (Rereading: Mass literature and ideology), ed. Tang Xiaobing (Hong Kong: Oxford University Press, 1993), 122. [BACK]

74. Writers like Liu E criticize the way incorruptible judges abuse their power, torturing innocent people, but they rarely criticize the habit of torturing people who are not innocent. Lao Can the dreamer acquiesces in the most horrible punishments imposed on condemned souls in Hell as much as Liu E acquiesces in the edifying power of horrible punishments imposed on condemned criminals on Earth. [BACK]

75. See Apter and Saich's description of the so-called Foucault's paradox involved here: "The inversionary discourse that appears offers an unlimited prospect of freedom and proposes to free people from constraints of power, to break the hegemony of the discourse through which it is represented; but it, in turn, becomes hegemonic, all the more as it cleaves to its original intent," Revolutionary Discourse, 331. [BACK]

76. Tang, "Baoli de bianzheng fa," 120. [BACK]

77. Ibid., 121. [BACK]

78. Apter and Saich, Revolutionary Discourse, chapters 8, 9. [BACK]

79. Ding Ling, Taiyang zhaozai Sanggan heshagn, 247–48. [BACK]

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