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The Authorship of PlaceA Cultural Geography of the New Chinese Cinemas$
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Dennis Lo

Print publication date: 2020

Print ISBN-13: 9789888528516

Published to Hong Kong Scholarship Online: May 2021

DOI: 10.5790/hongkong/9789888528516.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM HONG KONG SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.hongkong.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Hong Kong University Press, 2022. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in HKSO for personal use.date: 05 July 2022

Appreciate from Afar

Appreciate from Afar

Longing for Home in Li Xing’s and Wang Tong’s Xiangtu Film Adaptations

(p.33) 1 Appreciate from Afar
The Authorship of Place

Dennis Lo

Hong Kong University Press

Chapter 1 investigates the cultural politics underlying waisheng Taiwanese auteurs Li Xing’s and Wang Tong’s adaptations of two xiangtu literature classics, China, My Native Land (1981) and A Flower in the Rainy Night (1983). By experiencing and imaging their shooting locations in South Korea and Northeastern Taiwan as places symbolizing an impossible longing for their homeland, Li Xing and Wang Tong perform exilic identities that hybridize motifs of geopolitical displacement from official narratives of nation building and the nomadic subjectivities of bensheng protagonists in xiangtu literature. These productions thus constitute novel experiments in forging an intersubjectively imagined community, boldly crossing what were then clear divides between waisheng and bensheng structures of feeling. Through intertextual analysis of representations of travel in these films, their production narratives, media reports on the productions, and tourist guidebooks to the shooting locations, this chapter shows that unifying bensheng, waisheng, and popular structures of feeling at the time were ironic images of Taiwan as a place haunted by melodramatic anticipation for unfulfilled cultural aspirations. Through these productions, Taiwan was imaged as a place that could not yet be called home, but a space from which one could “appreciate from afar” the possibility of homecoming.

Keywords:   Cultural politics, Taiwan cinema, Li Hsing, Wang Tong, Xiangtu literature, Healthy realism, Waisheng, Bensheng, China, My Native Land, A Flower in the Rainy Night

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