The Sacred and the Fictional: Dialectics of“National Myths” and “New Historical Narratives”in Cross-Strait Contemporary Fictions
Literary circles on both sides of the Taiwan Strait went their separate ways after 1949. There is, however, a phenomenon shared by both sides: various national myths have been a common ground on which cross-Strait contemporary fictions engage in continual dialogue. Such national myths can be summarized as the socialist proletariat revolution between 1949 and 1976 for the Communist Party and the anti-communist movements from 1949 to 1987 for the KMT. Revolutionary historical fictions and anti-communist fictions both utilize the body imagination of national heroes and the spatial concept of the land of Zhong Yuan, or central plain, as the stage for national myths. With the loosening of the authoritarian rules, contemporary fictions on both sides adopt new historical narratives to explore the micro-histories previously suppressed by national myths. In the process, these fictions also adopt the perspectives of body and space. In a nutshell, this thesis will explore common issues for contemporary fictions across the Strait in their construction or deconstruction of national myths from 1949 to the 21st century; these issues include body imagination and space inscription. This thesis will explore their differences across different space, time, and generations.
First, the body imagination. New historical narratives in cross-strait contemporary fictions begin with commoners’ traumas in the power structure and their symptoms. This is the key to reflect on the national myth and its representatives: “masculine hero/ Father with capital F.” Therefore, when investigating how commoners’ family stories criticize and complement the macro-history, this thesis adopts the perspectives of body and language violences to rethink father-son relationship in all levels and to trace a process of transformation from hero to traumatic figure. In this process, we see that, while family stories are the subject for new historical narratives, fictional aesthetics and a return to origin are all derived from such family stories. To sum up, narratives develop from “what stories to tell” to “how to tell stories.” This shows how new historical narratives twist the concepts of the sacred and the fictional.
Furthermore, the key for the ruling class to maintain the unity of territory and power structure is to be able to interpret to its people of the territory the heritage, the innovative ideals, the collective memories, and the ultimate promises of its nation. Therefore, on both sides, new historical narratives develop different spatial imaginations in terms of the territory and the land. This serves as the base for the arrangement of chapters for this thesis, namely: from revolutionary village, homeland, family land to post-homeland; from central plain’s protection and shifting, to the border-crossing. With this, this thesis analyzes a periodical development of new historical narratives for revolutionary historical narratives and for anti-communist historical narratives. This thesis also discusses how new historical narratives on both sides re-produce and re-invent the territory and its macro-history. The thesis will call this process a metaphor of motherland reproduction. Interpellation of homeland/motherland as Patriarchal subjection is addressed to the younger generations to reflect the history, to face the present, and to imagine the future. This is not a deconstruction of patriarchal power; patriarchal power is continually engaging and influencing the motherland. Therefore, the metaphor of motherland reproduction and its care of land and imagination of history still develop from the three narrative topics for the traumatic figures under the patriarchal influence. As seen in the new historical narratives on both sides of the Strait from 1980s to 21st century, concept of family and homeland expands to deep thoughts on historical origins and historical categories, which further evolve into investigations of fictional aesthetics and the importance of returning to the origin. Therefore, historical views of contemporary fictions on both sides of the Strait can be summarized as the following: moving from the singularity of revolution to the diversified Chinese-ness; constructing the sense of Taiwan-ness via the entanglement of immigration and colonial culture.
Therefore, this thesis utilizes patriarchal subjugation and metaphor of motherland reproduction to explain the tightly-knitted relationship between body and space, to both of which the narrative subjects are closely linked. That is to say, national myths are structured by traumatic symptoms and territory, land, and commoners. Even though contemporary fictions on both sides develop distinctive new historical narratives, there are still common topics and contexts of evolution.
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