During the early stages of its development, Taiwan’s New Literature was intimately connected with realism.
The year 2022 is the one-hundredth anniversary of fiction writing in Taiwan, and also the one-hundredth anniversary of modernist literature in the English-speaking world. For the former, this is the one-hundredth anniversary of the publication of Chui Feng’s “Where Will She Go?” For the latter, it is the one-hundredth anniversary of the publication of James Joyce’s (1882–1941) novel Ulysses, and Anglo-American writer T. S. Eliot’s (1888–1965) poem The Waste Land. When the Alphabet Lab was first established, it also paid tribute to the contribution of modernism in the development of post-war Taiwan literature. In this special fiftieth issue on “Taiwan Fiction and ‘Realism,’” we once again identify and trace out the pathways and objectives of Taiwan’s writer apostles over the past one-hundred years.
【About the Editors】
Kuo-ch'ing Tu, born in Taichung, Taiwan. His research interests include Chinese literature, Chinese poetics and literary theories, comparative literature East and West, and world literatures of Chinese (Shi-Hua wenxue). He is the author of numerous books of poetry in Chinese, as well as translator of English, Japanese, and French works into Chinese.
Terence Russell is Senior Scholar in the Asian Studies Center at the University of Manitoba. He has an interest in contemporary literature in Chinese, especially the literature of Taiwan's Indigenous people. Dr. Russell has been a regular contributor to Taiwan Literature: English Translation Series, and was the guest editor of Issue 24 on Taiwan Indigenous myths and oral literature.
Li-hsuan Chang is currently an associate professor at the Research Institute of Taiwan Literature, National Taiwan University, and concurrently serves as the twelfth Secretary-General of the Cultural Studies Society (2021–2023), director of the Taiwan Lee Chiao Literature Association, and Director of Hsieh Tsung–min Cultural and Educational Foundation. Her research interests include the field of post-war Taiwanese literature, the Republic of China literature, the production of newspapers and periodicals during the martial law period, and the research and re-culturation of Taiwan Literature. She is the author of Two Major Newspapers’ Literature Awards and the Formation of Taiwan’s Literary Ecology (2010), Construction and Change: Realism and Taiwan Fiction Production (2016).
Foreword to the Special Issue on Taiwan Fiction and ‘Realism’
Since 1996, Taiwanese subjectivity has been at the heart of the editorial project of Taiwan Literature: English Translation Series.After more than twenty years of hard work, this orientation has become increasingly clear as Taiwan’s social history has progressed. In fundamental ways, our editorial direction, and the theory at its core, has been determined by our desire both to introduce Yeh Shih-t’ao’s view of literary history and to put it into practice. The publication goals that we established for the Series at the very outset also included promoting robust international recognition of the development and trends of Taiwan literature, and thereby strengthening research on Taiwan literature from international perspectives. As social and political conditions in Taiwan continue to develop, Taiwanese subjectivity will become increasingly distinct. Only if the works that are selected for translation manifest the subjectivity of Taiwan literature, and evince the society, history and cultural uniqueness of the land and the people that are Taiwan can these special qualities be affirmed and appreciated internationally. This conviction, as evident in the choice of themes, the selection of works for translation, and the English language editing, has come to characterize the unique and persistent style of the Series.
In recent years, with the vigorous support of the Ministry of Education in Taiwan, Taiwan studies have blossomed in the Euro-American academy. Centers for Taiwan studies have proliferated and strongly promoted research on Taiwan. The research emerging from those centers on culturally diverse subjects, and proceeding from cross-disciplinary/cross-cultural global perspectives, need only concern some aspect of Taiwan and there will be opportunities to present it at academic conferences. In terms of lateral development, research antennae continue to extend into the Japanese colonial period and East Asian colonialism, to links between East Asian cultural traditions, to Taiwan literature and Shi-Hua literature, to links with world literature, to links between Indigenous people’s literature and world minority people’s literature, and to links between Taiwan’s open society and current world LGBTQ culture. In terms of longitudinal investigation, the antennae extend in the direction of historical culture, ethnic development, as well as comparative explorations of the traditional, the modern, and the post-modern.
Concerning historical consciousness and cultural traditions, Benedetto Croce’s (1866–1952) view that “All history is contemporary history,” emphasizes the contemporaneity of history. It accords with T.S. Eliot’s (1888–1965) statement, “History is now.” Eliot particularly stressed the synchronicity of historical consciousness, “Time present and time past / Are both perhaps present in time future, / And time future contained in time past” (Four Quartets “Burnt Norton,” 1944). Or perhaps more concretely, “The historical sense involves a perception, not only of the pastness of the past, but of its presence” (“Tradition and
Individual Talent,” 1917). In other words, historical consciousness leads an author to be both traditional and contemporary at the same time. Mature Taiwanese writers are no exception to this. The historical depth of Taiwan studies, which includes all that has taken place in past, exists only in the domain of the ponderings of modern individuals, and there are many things that can be further investigated in this respect. For this reason, with this issue we have taken the initiative of making a preliminary survey of “realism” in the construction and development of Taiwanese fiction. This has special significance for literary history as we review the past and seek to elucidate history from a contemporary point of view. With the radical changes taking place in the international situation of the East Asian area, research on Taiwan has become an important field of studies in rapid ascent, an ascent that we take pleasure in observing.
With all of this in mind, we have chosen “Taiwan Fiction and ‘Realism’” as the topic of this issue and invited Professor Lihsuan Chang of the Graduate Institute of Taiwan Literature at National Taiwan University to serve as guest editor for the volume. We have asked Professor Chang to take responsibility for selecting the works to be translated and to write an introduction considering this important line of thought in the historical development of Taiwan literature. Professor Chang’s doctoral dissertation, Becoming-Realism: The Production of Taiwan Fiction (National Cheng Kung University, 2014), looks at the development of aturalism, realism (which is alternatively translated into the Chinese as xianshi zhuyi 現實主義 and xieshi zhuyi 寫實主義), modernism, and post-modernism. The thesis also notes changes in theoretical approaches and the structure of literary criticism related to Taiwanese fiction over the past century. In Chang’s research we discern the continuation of one of the central tenets of Yeh Shiht’ao’s view of literary history—the spirit of realism embodied in Yeh’s rhetorical question, “If there is no land, how can there be literature?” However, while Professor Chang’s doctoral thesis is an authoritative study of more than four hundred pages, in the“Introduction” to this issue she is able to devote only one page to the question of how realism contributed to the production of Taiwan fiction. This inevitably leaves out much more than it includes, especially since Professor Chang also ventures to explain the most important traits of realist fiction in Taiwan.
We may observe that, in general, Taiwanese authors have wished to establish their own literature. Beginning in the Japanese colonial period, the mission of Taiwan’s localist literature has been borne like a cross born by its disciples, and as one fell, another filled the breach, right up to the present. Identifying this phenomenon was also Yeh Shih-t’ao’s intention when he began to write An Outline History of Taiwan Literature. Looking back over the history of the development of Taiwan literature, we note that the main currents of change have arisen because of influence from the West. Among those, the most important have been the ideologically directed realism, and the anti-traditionalism of modernism. As its goal has been to write about the land from a realistic standpoint, Taiwanese nativism has grown out of the fissures between these two major competing Western intellectual tides, making use of those things it found useful, alternatively favoring one or the other. This has led to the formation of the tripartite character of the ideas underlying the evolution of Taiwan literature.
Just as Yeh Shih-t’ao clearly perceived in his essay, “The Realism of World Literature and the Realism of Taiwan’s New Literature” (2000), the creative methodology of all of Taiwan’sauthors in the Japanese colonial period was realism as well as modernism. Both of these were introduced from outside and possessed dual layers of meaning: the former confronted colonial rule by a foreign people and employed realism’s fundamental tactics of resistance. The latter tackled the feudal system that worked hand in hand with the colonizers. It critiqued that system by employing the indirect, satirical techniques of modernism. Under the conditions of colonial society, the two modes never stood in clear opposition to one another. Rather, they permeated each other, adapting, and melding together in order to answer the demands and achieve the objectives of resistance and transformation. Therefore, we can say that Taiwanese nativism, having been givenrise to by a conjunction of realism and modernism, was one of the pillars upon which the traditions of Taiwan’s New Literature were laid in the hopes of establishing a literary vision of originality, and ultimately completing the mission of Taiwan writers, those disciples of Taiwan local literature.
Chui Feng’s “Where Will She Go?” was seminal for the development of Taiwan’s New Literature. It was published in 1922, exactly one hundred years ago. This was the same year that the epoch-making modernist works, James Joyce’s (1882–1941) Ulysses, and T.S. Eliot’s poem, The Wasteland, were published. But Chui Feng’s story was only a preliminary calling out and cannot be mentioned in the same breath as the other two works by great literary masters which are universally recognized as masterpieces. The important thing to note is that, when Taiwan’s New Literature was just beginning, Euro-American modernism had already reached its zenith, and it was inevitable that Taiwan would fall under modernism’s influence. We thus observe that in the progress of Taiwan literature, modernism and realism moved side by side. In its future development, Taiwan literature must now proceed from localist literature to nativism. That is to say, as Taiwan’s writers embrace the local, they must maintain their cultural originality as they respond to globalized, diverse international social realities. At the same time as they oppose the traditional, they must recognize tradition and return to the literary path of tradition to secure their roots in their native soil. They must use their artistic creativity in the pursuit of the modernist spirit of innovation as well as classical values in their works.
Taiwanese literature’s nativism is endowed with the aspirations and field of vision of both realism and modernism. This is also the reason that in past issues of this journal (from Issue 39 to Issue 44), we have included the works of modernist writers. In this special issue on “Taiwan Fiction and Realism,” three of the works representing the contemporary era, Lai Hsiang-yin’s “Island,” Ming Yu-ping’s “Snowy Taipei: 1901,” and Huang Chong-kai’s “F for ‘Fiction,’” are all rooted in the soil of Taiwan, and also seek to transcend the limitations of time and space in the quest of universal literary values. They exhibit examples modernist creative technique and aesthetic structure and thus put into practice the perspectives on, and conceptions of, literary history advocated in this journal.
In her introduction to this special issue, Professor Chang has organized the nine selected works into three chronological groupings and elucidated the background to the works and her reasons for choosing them. The works are from the Japanese colonial period (19221–1945), the post-war era (1945–1991), and the contemporary period (1992–). The themes dealt with in the nine works of realist fiction presented in this issue are very broad, and each piece has a different historical context. But each realistically reflects on social conditions prevailing at the time of their writing, including the cultural clash and quandary over identity that accompanied the ceding of Taiwan to Japan at the end of the Qing dynasty; a critique of the feudal practice of foot binding; the awakening of feminist consciousness; resistance to Japanese colonial rule; everyday life in Taiwan under Japanese control; linguistic identity with Taiwanese language; the prevalence of the cutthroat, money-is-king social environment and so on. Due to limitations of space, this special issue does not include stories directly relating to the era of White Terror, but it does include or works of post-modernist “realism” from the post-martial law period dealing with the acclimatization of new immigrants to the open society of Taiwan.
Two of the nine pieces selected were originally written in Japanese, those being Chui Feng’s “Where Will She Go?” and Lü Ho-jo’s “The Mountain, the River, the Grass, and the Trees.” However, since the Chinese renderings of these two pieces by Chung Chao-cheng and Lin Chih-chieh respectively are quite faithful to the Japanese originals, we have chosen to base the English translations on them. The Chinese used in the New Taiwan Literature from the early period was not very fluent, and this adds to the difficulty of translation. Our translators have done their utmost to overcome these difficulties and their efforts deserve recognition. Previously, in Issue 15 (2004) and Issue 34 (2014) of our Series, we separately introduced the works of Wu Cho-liu and Lü Ho-jo. Interested readers may refer to these. Aside from John Balcom, who is a long-time contributor, we have, since our previous issue, been fortunate to add a number of new recruits to our corps of translators. We are extremely happy and grateful for the contributions of these gifted individuals.
After a quarter of a century of hard work, our Series has finally arrived at its fiftieth issue. We owe gratitude to so many like-minded scholars and translators of Taiwan literature for their support and collaboration. Here we would like to first thank our guest editor for this issue, Professor Li-hsuan Chang, for her scholarly contributions, her cooperation in the conception and compilation of the issue, and for her selection of representative works. She has also provided short biographies of the authors and publication information, as well as soliciting the permission of the authors for the English translation and publication of their works. Professor Terence Russell, who coordinated with the translators, and Fred Edwards, our English language copy editor, worked together on the upstream tasks of editing the translated texts and doing the initial formatting of the manuscript. Yen Chia-yun of the National Taiwan University Press lent her expert assistance in downstream tasks such as taking charge of the cover design, collating the manuscript, and managing the printing process. The creative conceptualization of our cover design evokes the theme of this special issue: the images of a group of Taiwanese writers emerge and are borne swiftly forward in the long river of Taiwan literature, converging in a strong torrent of “Realism” that has run across one century. All these individuals have done their utmost in the pursuit of the highest standards of publication quality. Everyone has worked together with the shared objectives of contributing to the continued publication of the Series. For this we owe our deepest and most sincere gratitude.
至於歷史意識與文化傳統而言，克羅齊（Benedetto Croce, 1866–1952）所謂「一切歷史都是當代史」（All history is contemporary history）的觀點，强調歷史的當代性，而與艾略特所説的「歷史就是現在」（History is now），可説異曲同工。艾略特（T.S. Eliot，1888–1965）强調歷史意識的同時性：「時間現在與時間過去，二者或許存在於時間未來，而時間未來包含在時間過去中。」（Time present and time past / Are both perhaps present in time future, / And time future contained in time past.），或者更具體地說，「傳統含有歷史的意識，認識到過去不僅具有過去性，同時也具有現在性。」（The historical sense involves a perception, not only of the pastness of the past, but of its presence）。換句話説，歷史意識使一個作家同時具有傳統性和現代性，成熟的台灣作家也不例外。台灣研究的歷史縱深，亦即過去曾經發生過的一切，只存在於現代人思索的世界中，有許多值得進一步探索的地方。因此，本專輯抛磚引玉，初步考察「寫實主義」與台灣小説的建構與流變，對文學史的回顧和當代觀點的歷史詮釋，具有特別重大的意義。隨著國際局勢在東亞地區的丕變，台灣研究已形成一門顯學，方興未艾，樂觀其成。
台灣新文學的發展，以追風的〈她要往何處去〉為濫觴，發表於1922年，至今剛好一百年。同年劃時代的現代主義作品有喬伊斯（James Joyce，1882–1941）的《尤利西斯》（Ulysses）和艾略特詩歌《荒原》（The Waste Land）。追風的小説是初試啼聲，另外兩位大師級的作品是公認的傑作，不可同日而語。台灣新文學發軔時，歐美現代主義發展已達到高峰，台灣必然受到影響，可見現代主義與現實主義，在台灣的演變是與時並進的。台灣文學今後的發展，必然沿著從鄉土文學到本土主義這一導向。亦即台灣作家在擁抱鄉土之餘，必須具有文化的自主性，迎向全球化和多元化的國際社會現實，同時在反傳統、認識傳統、回歸傳統的文學道上，扎根本土，以其藝術的獨創性，追求現代主義的創新精神和作品的古典價值。
Foreword to the Special Issue on Taiwan Fiction and ‘Realism’ ／Kuo-ch’ing Tu
One Hundred Years of Apostles, Pathways and Objectives:Introduction to the “Special Issue on Taiwan Fiction and‘Realism’”／Li-hsuan Chang
Where Will She Go—For My Suffering Sisters 她要往何處去──給苦惱的姐妹們／Chui Feng
The Ducks 鴨母／Chang Shen-chieh
The Mountains, The Rivers, The Grass, and The Trees 山川草木／Lu Ho-jo
The Puppeteers Behind the Scenes 幕後的支配者／Wu Cho-liu
Discussing Art with Ah Li by Letter 在信中與阿笠談美術／Hsieh Li-fa
Blind Spot 死角／Tzeng Ching-wen
Island 島／Lai Hsiang-yin
Snowy Taipei: 1901 雪的台北一九〇一／Ming Yu-ping
F for Fiction F虛構／Huang Chong-kai
About the Translators
About the Editors