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Hybridities in a Metropolitan Diasporic Space: Weng Nao’s Literary Tokyo

Lin, Tzu-Yu; (2014) Hybridities in a Metropolitan Diasporic Space: Weng Nao’s Literary Tokyo. Archiv Orientalni , 82 (3) pp. 581-597. 10.47979/aror.j.82.3.581-597. Green open access

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This paper explores a hybrid space of Tokyo in the early twentieth century in the literary world of Taiwanese writer Weng Nao. Homi Bhabha’s theory will be adapted in order to further discuss hybridities and ambivalence in the metropolitan space within diasporic literature. Amongst other Taiwanese writers in the 1930s, Weng Nao was one of the few followers of Shin-kankakuha (the Neosensualist School), which was established by Japanese modernist writers such as Kawabata Yasunari, Tanizaki Jun’ichiro, Yokomitsu Riichi, Hayashi Fumiko and Sato Waruo, and insisted on presenting literary writing in the form of pure aesthetics. His new and modernist experimental techniques of literary representation and sophisticated descriptions of the loneliness of urban life and the inner desires of the human mind made his works distinct from those of other Taiwanese diasporic authors in the 1930s. However, with regard to his specific writing style and his detailed descriptions of innermost sexual desires, Weng’s works were far beyond what was deemed acceptable by East Asian or Taiwanese literary communities in the early twentieth century and received quite a significant amount of negative criticism. In addition, being long considered to be mocking the writing style of the Japanese Neosensualist School, Chinese critics such as Gu Zitang comments on his works as “not Chinese literature at all” and “not yet totally westernized.” In fact, his literary status is far more important than Taiwanese literati could have imagined during his lifetime. In order to re-evaluate his literary status, this paper begins by exploring the significance of Tokyo and foregrounds its articulation within Weng’s diasporic experience in his metropolitan literary space. Then, I discuss the adaptations made by Weng Nao to Japanese Neosensualist writing, which, I argue, can be considered as an expression of his resistance to colonial modernist values. Finally, I propose to utilize the sense of translation in order to understand how diasporic literature as an act of writing across cultures and nations can be seen as a process of code-switching between different cultural/linguistic systems, which carries across memories and cultures from one cultural context to another. In the terms of form, context and themes, Weng’s modified modernist Tokyo writing reveals his uniqueness and resistance towards both Japanocentrism and Eurocentrism, which distinguishes him as an outstanding Taiwanese diasporic writer rather than as merely a follower of Japanese Neosensualist literature.

Type: Article
Title: Hybridities in a Metropolitan Diasporic Space: Weng Nao’s Literary Tokyo
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.47979/aror.j.82.3.581-597
Publisher version: https://doi.org/10.47979/aror.j.82.3.581-597
Language: English
Additional information: This version is the version of record. For information on re-use, please refer to the publisher’s terms and conditions.
Keywords: Weng Nao, Hybridities, Diasporic literature, the Neosensualist school
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of Arts and Humanities
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of Arts and Humanities > SELCS
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10177352
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