The Last of the Whampoa Breed

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Whampoa Military Academy was China's first modern military institution. For decades the "Spirit of Whampoa" was invoked as the highest praise to all Chinese soldiers who guarded their nation heroically. But of all the battles these soldiers have fought, the most challenging one was the civil war that resulted in the "great divide" of China in the mid-twentieth century. In 1949 the Communists exiled a million soldiers and their families to compounds in Taiwan and cut off ...

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The Last of the Whampoa Breed

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Overview

Whampoa Military Academy was China's first modern military institution. For decades the "Spirit of Whampoa" was invoked as the highest praise to all Chinese soldiers who guarded their nation heroically. But of all the battles these soldiers have fought, the most challenging one was the civil war that resulted in the "great divide" of China in the mid-twentieth century. In 1949 the Communists exiled a million soldiers and their families to compounds in Taiwan and cut off communication with mainland China for forty years.

The Last of the Whampoa Breed tells the stories of the exiles written by their descendants, many of whom have become Taiwan's most important authors. The book is an important addition to the vastly underrepresented literature of Taiwan in translation and sheds light on the complex relationship between Taiwan and the People's Republic of China. Western readers will not at first recognize the experiences of these soldiers who were severed from a traditional past only to face unfulfilled promises and uncertain futures. Many of the exiles were doomed to live and die homeless and loveless. Yet these life stories reveal a magnanimous, natural dignity that has transcended prolonged mental suffering. "I Wanted to Go to War" describes the sadly ineffectual, even comic attempts to "recapture the mainland." The old soldier in "Tale of Two Strangers" asks to have his ashes scattered over both the land of his dreams and the island that has sheltered him for forty years.

Some of the stories recount efforts to make peace with life in Taiwan, as in "Valley of Hesitation," and the second generation's struggles to find a place in the native island society as in "The Vanishing Ball" and "In Remembrance of My Buddies from the Military Compound." Narrating the homeland remembered and the homeland in reality, the stories in this book affirm that "we shall not let history be burned to mere ashes."

Columbia University Press

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What People Are Saying

Sung-sheng Yvonne Chang, University of Texas at Austin
This collection offers a unique glimpse into the mosaic ethnic-cultural landscape of contemporary Taiwan. The stories are about former members of the Chinese Nationalist military personnel, who had followed ChiangKai-shek in the mass retreat from Mainland China to Taiwan in 1949, and their children, who were raised within the once-lively subculture of the island's numerous military housing compounds built after the Retreat. As individuals whose loyalty to an obsolete cause is denied and even ridiculed by today's sociopolitical reality and who have no choice but resiliently adapt themselves to challenging new circumstances, characters in these stories are in a peculiar sense representative. For, in the last century, betrayal by the treacherous history has been a common lot shared by millions of Chinese on both Mainland China and Taiwan.
Michelle Yeh

The year 1949 witnessed the exodus of more than a million Chinese from the mainland to island Taiwan. This collection of stories gives the historic turning point a human face and human voice that is vivid and memorable.

Sung-sheng Yvonne ChangThe University of Texas at Austin

This collection offers a unique glimpse into the mosaic ethnic-cultural landscape of contemporary Taiwan. The stories are about former members of the Chinese Nationalist military personnel, who had followed ChiangKai-shek in the mass retreat from Mainland China to Taiwan in 1949, and their children, who were raised within the once-lively subculture of the island's numerous military housing compounds built after the Retreat. As individuals whose loyalty to an obsolete cause is denied and even ridiculed by today's sociopolitical reality and who have no choice but resiliently adapt themselves to challenging new circumstances, characters in these stories are in a peculiar sense representative. For, in the last century, betrayal by the treacherous history has been a common lot shared by millions of Chinese on both Mainland China and Taiwan.

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Product Details

Meet the Author

Pang-yuan Chi is professor emeritus of English and comparative literature at National Taiwan University and editor-in-chief of Chinese Pen Quarterly. She is the editor of An Anthology of Contemporary Chinese Literature and Tears of a Thousand Years.David Der-Wei Wang is associate professor of East Asian languages and cultures at Columbia University. He is the author of Fictional Realism in Twentieth-Century China (Columbia)

Columbia University Press

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Table of Contents

Prologue: Faces, Bronze Faces, by SUN Wei-mang / translated by Nicholas KOSSShore to Shore, by SANG Pin-zai / translated by Michelle WUI Wanted to Go to War, by SANG Pin-zai / translated by Nicholas KOSSThe Stone Tablet at the Cove of the Loving Mother, by WANG Yo-hua / translated by Michelle WUOld Man Yang and His Woman, by LU Chiang / translated by Nancy DU1,230 Spots, by SHOW Foong / translated by Ching-hsi PERNGValley of Hesitation, by LI Yu / translated by Daniel J. BAUERState Funeral, by BAI Xianyong / translated by the author and Patia YASINTale of Two Strangers, by YUAN Jen / translated by Daniel J. BAUERThe Last of the Whampoa Breed, by TAI Wen-tsai / translated by Michelle WUMy Relatives in Hong Kong, by HSIAO Sa / translated by LOH I-chengSpring Hope, by LI Li / translated by CHEN I-djenThe Vanishing Ball, by CHANG Chi-jiang / translated by Kathy CHANGEpilogue: In Remembrance of My Buddies from the Military Compound, by CHU Tien-hsin / translated by Michelle WU

Columbia University Press

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