Historiography and Hsiang-tu Imagination in Shih Shu-ching’s Walking Through Lo-chin
|Keywords:||《行過洛津》，歷史書寫，鄉土想像，性別政治;Walking Through Lo-chin, historiography, hsiang-tu imagination, sexual politics||Issue Date:||Jun-2010||Source:||中外文學||Start page/Pages:||009-041||Abstract:||
This article studies the historiography and tsiang-tu (or homeland) imagination in Shih Shu-ching’s novel Walking Through Lo-chin. Set in the port-city Lu-gang two or three hundred years ago when Han immigrants settled down and interacted with the natives (including aborigines), the novel gives a panorama of local life by portraying people from different classes, races and genders. While the novel blends in a lot of historical material, it begs the question as to the perspective of the author—who has lived abroad for many years—in portraying the historical past of her hometown, when a lot of historical facts, social organizations, cultural forms and rituals have either been forgotten or simply vanished. That the main plot focuses on pederasty, foot-binding and castration fears seems to tap deliberately into the immense popularity of gender issues in order to bridge the time gap, yet it also makes a spectacle of them, thus inscribing the difference between past and present.
Another focus of the novel is the portrayal of the different but partially overlapping positions of visitors and natives, the metropolitan and the other. In what I call “contrapuntal historiography,” the juxtaposition and contrast of the two perspectives echoes the contestation and negotiation between China-centrism and Taiwan-centrism today. The two focuses of historiography should be put in the perspective of the historicizing of hsiang-tu imagination in the novel. The narrator’s vision of Lo-chin that encompasses its past and present constitutes the central hsiang-tu imagination of the novel. Apart from the issues of gender and national identity, the narrator focuses on the rise and fall of the port-city, a depiction that effectively rewrites the tradition of hsiang-tu imagination, given that traditional hsiang-tu fiction uses the village as its main image. The narrator’s ambivalent attitudes toward mercantile activities imply a double vision of modernity. By so doing, the novel suggests an intricate relationship between modernity and Taiwan.
|Appears in Collections:||外國語文學系|
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