• Language Ideologies in Gao Xingjian’s Literature: a Linguistic Anthropological Study of Chinese Diaspora Literature in Europe

    Lijing Peng (see profile)
    LSL Linguistics and Literature
    Aesthetics, Chinese language, Chinese literature, European literature, Literature
    Item Type:
    Conference paper
    Conf. Title:
    Modern Language Association’s 2016 International Symposium, Other Europes: Migrations, Translations, Transformations
    Conf. Org.:
    Heinrich Heine University, Duesseldorf
    Conf. Loc.:
    Duesseldorf, Germany
    Conf. Date:
    23–25 June 2016
    chinese diaspora, foreign languages, migrant literature, minor literature, World literature
    Permanent URL:
    Inspired by Samuel Beckett’s attenuation of language, the French Nobel Prize laureate Gao Xingjian has conducted various language experiments in his literary creations in the past two decades. Gao’s literary works, as Diaspora literature, have received extensive attention from European readers due to their Western modernist literary style, the author’s anti-institution attitude, and the classical Chinese aesthetics pursued in his literary creations. In this paper I examine how the classical Chinese aesthetics and the influences of European modernism and French postmodernism collide towards an expression of an inner stress of immigrant identity. It employs linguistic anthropology to explore the chronotopes and language ideologies embedded in Gao Xingjian’s literary language. I use Gao’s fictions published after he emigrated to France as case studies. The literary language of Gao’s two fictions are thick with various aesthetic and poetic traditions in Chinese history and geography. However, Gao also conflates the desire to violate his native language with the retrospection of Chinese language and culture from a stance of his new immigrant identity. With detailed analysis of the literary devices including the juxtaposition of time-space configurations, the interactions of diversified language elements, the micro-histories and political geographies embedded in his travel literatures, I look into how Gao’s literary language responds to the complex Chinese language institutions and the influence of European modernism and French postmodernism. This paper is one of the first few attempts of using linguistic anthropology methods to study the relationship between Chinese Diaspora literature and the European political and cultural roles for immigrants. It contributes to the recent hot debates on immigrant cultural diversity in Europe.
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