WANG WENXING, A.K.A. WANG WEN-HSIN (1939— ) - The Dictionary

Chinese Literature - Li-hua Ying 2010

The Dictionary

WANG WENXING, A.K.A. WANG WEN-HSIN (1939— ). Fiction writer and critic. Wang Wenxing was born in Fujian and grew up in Taiwan. He received his B.A. from National Taiwan University, then a bastion of Taiwan’s modernist movement, and an M.A. in creative writing from the University of Iowa. Besides several collections of short stories, Wang has also published two novels, Jia bian (Family Catastrophe) and Bei hai de ren (Backed against the Sea), which are major works in Taiwan’s modernist literature. Wang is noted for his bold stylistic and linguistic experimentations.

When Jia bian was published in 1972, it caused a great controversy. It was considered an assault on traditional Chinese family values, particularly its long-held Confucian tradition of filial piety. Its stylistic peculiarities also came under fire. The story dramatizes stresses on the modern Taiwan family by highlighting the problems between husbands and wives and between parents and children. It starts with the unexpected disappearance of the father and continues through the various attempts that his wife and son make to bring him home. The novel’s focus is on the son’s guilty feelings about his mistreatment of his father, unfolding the tormented psychology of a rebellious young man who strives to break free from the controlling grip of traditional ethics. Bei hai de ren is an even more audacious revolt against the realist tradition of storytelling. Characterized as a Joycean novel in its absolute disregard for readability, it is the most radical departure from the standard form of the novel in modern Chinese literature. See also MODERNISTS.