The Aesthetics of the “Beyond”: Phantasm, Nostalgia, and the Literary Practice in Contemporary China

by Jianguo Chen

Hardback • 2009 • $74.00
ISBN: 978-1611490848

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This book is about an alternative mode of reading, thinking, and representing the intricacies of human experience in Chinese literature of the late twentieth century, which the author calls the aesthetics of the “beyond.” It investigates how contemporary Chinese writers, by means of dynamic interface of literary practice and cultural philosophical considerations, engage the reader in critical reflection on and aesthetic appreciation of the complexity of human conditions. By studying the “beyond” in its various manifestations: the semiotics of human embodiment, the discourse of the phantasm, the politics of nostalgia with regard to “origin” and “center,” and the metaphysics of death in the writings of some major contemporary Chinese writers, the book explores the ways in which the “beyond” is constructed as a new paradigm of critical thinking in literary, aesthetic, and philosophical terms. It examines how its discursive strategies, structural features, and aesthetic possibilities are presented and how varied literary tropes are used in an attempt to unravel human experience in all its aspects.

About the Author
Jianguo Chen is a Professor of Chinese literature at the University of Delaware.