A History of Pain: Trauma in Modern Chinese Literature and Film

A History of Pain: Trauma in Modern Chinese Literature and Film

by Michael Berry
     
 

View All Available Formats & Editions

The portrayal of historical atrocity in fiction, film, and popular culture can reveal much about the function of individual memory and the shifting status of national identity. In the context of Chinese culture, films such as Hou Hsiao-hsien's City of Sadness and Lou Ye's Summer Palace and novels such as Ye Zhaoyan's Nanjing 1937: A Love Story<

…  See more details below

Overview

The portrayal of historical atrocity in fiction, film, and popular culture can reveal much about the function of individual memory and the shifting status of national identity. In the context of Chinese culture, films such as Hou Hsiao-hsien's City of Sadness and Lou Ye's Summer Palace and novels such as Ye Zhaoyan's Nanjing 1937: A Love Story and Wang Xiaobo's The Golden Age collectively reimagine past horrors and give rise to new historical narratives.

Michael Berry takes an innovative look at the representation of six specific historical traumas in modern Chinese history: the Musha Incident (1930); the Rape of Nanjing (1937-38); the February 28 Incident (1947); the Cultural Revolution (1966-76); Tiananmen Square (1989); and the Handover of Hong Kong (1997). He identifies two primary modes of restaging historical violence: centripetal trauma, or violence inflicted from the outside that inspires a reexamination of the Chinese nation, and centrifugal trauma, which, originating from within, inspires traumatic narratives that are projected out onto a transnational vision of global dreams and, sometimes, nightmares.

These modes allow Berry to connect portrayals of mass violence to ideas of modernity and the nation. He also illuminates the relationship between historical atrocity on a national scale and the pain experienced by the individual; the function of film and literature as historical testimony; the intersection between politics and art, history and memory; and the particular advantages of modern media, which have found new means of narrating the burden of historical violence.

As Chinese artists began to probe previously taboo aspects of their nation's history in the final decades of the twentieth century, they created texts that prefigured, echoed, or subverted social, political, and cultural trends. A History of Pain acknowledges the far-reaching influence of this art and addresses its profound role in shaping the public imagination and conception-as well as misconception-of modern Chinese history.

Read More

Editorial Reviews

Choice

Beautifully written, this book is 'educational' in the very best sense.... Essential.

JumpCut
The book is significant for its extensive survey of the discourse of trauma.

Jump Cut
The book is significant for its extensive survey of the discourse of trauma.
Perry Link
Twentieth-century China had more than its share of pain, and Michael Berry unfolds the layers of its meanings in diverse contexts and several media. He shows how the pain of groups relates to identity, morality, politics, and to the meaning of 'history' and 'literature.' No serious student of modern China will want to miss his erudite survey.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780231512008
Publisher:
Columbia University Press
Publication date:
11/10/2008
Series:
Global Chinese Culture
Sold by:
Barnes & Noble
Format:
NOOK Book
Pages:
432
File size:
31 MB
Note:
This product may take a few minutes to download.

Meet the Author

Michael Berry is associate professor of contemporary Chinese cultural studies at the University of California, Santa Barbara. He is the author of Speaking in Images: Interviews with Contemporary Chinese Filmmakers and Jia Zhang-ke's Hometown Trilogy, and the translator of several novels, including To Live, Nanjing 1937: A Love Story, Wild Kids: Two Novels About Growing Up, and, with Susan Chan Egan, The Song of Everlasting Sorrow: A Novel of Shanghai.

Customer Reviews

Average Review:

Write a Review

and post it to your social network

     

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

See all customer reviews >