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From the Material Life to the Spiritual World the Art of the Novels by Wang Anyi

Author: ZhangYongChun
Tutor: LiLingZe
School: Shaanxi Normal University
Course: Contemporary Chinese Literature
Keywords: Wang Anyi the material world the spiritual world eternal concern philosophical consideration narrative strategy
CLC: I207.42
Type: Master's thesis
Year: 2005
Downloads: 215
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Abstract


It has been thirty years since Wang Anyi first picked up her pen in 1976. During the thirty years, Wang’s writing topics and narrative strategies developed and changed; her writing style also grew from puerile to mature. However, as a writer stick to literature’s social responsibility, Wang Anyi never stops her deep thinking of life, society, and literature. Her works are loaded with whole-hearted concern for the secular life, philosophical consideration about human’s fate, and persistent efforts to build a spiritual world in her novel art. In other words, Wang Anyi’s novels display a strong interest in the material life, but they are more than that: by combining the mundane concern and the eternal concern for human being, Wang builds up a unique spiritual world in her novels.This thesis consists of three chapters which discuss Wang Anyi’s novel art, as well as an Introduction and a Conclusion.The first chapter is about Wang Anyi’s observation and reflection of the material world. Wang’s writing always draws materials from reality, and is thus connected to people’s common life tightly. Though the surface of her novels may appear to resemble the practical world, Wang Anyi’s works are far beyond a simple reproduction of reality, but a new world lit up by the writer’s insights, which we call the writer’s "spiritual world." It conveys Wang Anyi’s close examination and consideration of the reality. In this chapter, I will discuss be focused on four aspects: "the various women," "the symmetrical gender relationships," "the imaginative city," and "the poetic country," which are also the most often involved factors in Wang’s writings, to show how she has reconstructed the material world by her individual sensation and perception of it and thus endows her novels with a special glamour.The second chapter examines Wang Anyi’s philosophical consideration and eternal concern of human being’s situation in the world. Wang Anyi’s novels are based on the realistic life, but she never immerses herself in the reality, but instead goes beyond it, seeking for the subtle sounds from people’s heart through all the chaos in the materialworld, examining human’s fate and predicament from a pantoscopic perspective, and searching for human’s eternal value by putting him in a broader framework of time and space. In this chapter, I will mainly discuss two topics: the all sorts of "conflicts and collisions" that human encounters in his development, and the "drift and solitude" that he experiences both physically and mentally, which are situations that no human being can ever escape from. In the part about "conflicts and collisions," the discussion will be carried on in three aspects: "aboriginal and immigrant," "city and country," "China and the world." About the topic of "drift and solitude," I will try to interpret the "solitude" in Wang Anyi’s writings from the following three aspects: "the dissimilation that modernity brought to man and nature", the dilemma embodied in the "besieged city" fable, and "the loneliness of losing homeland."The third chapter discusses the construction rules of the "spiritual world" - the narrative strategy of Wang Anyi’s novels. Wang Anyi is a writer who really cares the technical aspect of fiction writing; in other words, she pays great attention to the narrative strategy of her novels. The construction of the writer’s "spiritual world" can never be done without the material power of novel. Taking building materials from the real world, the kingdom of novel has its own way and logic to grow and develop, however, and thus forms a different realm from the reality. In the case of Wang Anyi, we can trace her journey of constructing her own "spiritual world" by looking into her advocation for and experimentation with the abstract narrative language, and her search and exploration of different narrative ways for different subjects matters in her novels.In the past decades, Wang Anyi was always in the center of readers’ attention and critics’ discussion as a result of her unique and exquisite writing style. Her love and hum

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