Chinese Literature - Li-hua Ying 2010

The Dictionary

AVANT-GARDE (XIANFENG PAI). Influenced by postmodern literature from Latin America and Europe—particularly works by Italo Calvino, Jorge Luis Borges, and Gabriel García Márquez—the Chinese avant-garde movement began in the 1980s and continues to the present with abated intensity. Deeply invested in narrative form rather than content, the avant-garde writers valorize technique and structure. In a deliberate move away from the realist traditon, they insist that reality as well as history is highly suspect and unreliable and that it is personal experience and individual perception that are essential to narrative art. Ma Yuan’s fabrications of Tibetan myths, Can Xue’s nightmarish accounts of individuals’ inner turmoil, Su Tong’s re-creation of local history, Yu Hua’s grotesque accounts of violence, Ge Fei’s lyrical prose, Hong Feng’s deconstructed tragedy, and Sun Ganlu’s antifiction all emphasize irony, ambiguity, dreams and fantasies, multiple realities, and a highly individual and creative use of language. As a literary movement, the avant-garde represents one of the two main streams of contemporary Chinese literature, the other being the root-seeking movement. There is, however, a tendency found among an increasing number of writers to merge the two approaches in their works. See also BEI CUN; CHEN RAN; HAN SHAOGONG; MO YAN; PAN JUN; SEBO; TASHI DAWA; YAN LI; YU JIAN.