The Other, the Native or the Alter-native: Nobel Laureates in Chinese Literature?
This paper, The Other, the Native or Alter-native: Nobel Laureates in Chinese Literature?, compares the global receptions and award statuses of Nobel Prize laureates Pearl S. Buck (awarded in 1938) and Xingjian Gao (awarded in 2000). This research examines the issues of identity politics, of cultural marginality, and of alternative subjectivity. In this project, I will compare Buck's and Gao's laurelled works that were categorized as Chinese literature and discuss how such "Chinese-ness" is a historical, political and cultural construction. Through the close reading and the observation of the two writers' subjectivity construction, associated with individual relations to China politically and culturally, an ambivalent position will be detected. From the discussion of subjectivity, I am able to hypothesize the alter-native positionality. Furthermore, through the discussion of Latin roots and Chinese etymology, I will theorize the hypothesis of alter-native and its relation to the concept and discussion of另類/lìnglèi. The significance of the paper is to provide a thorough and coherent development of the theory of alter-native using 1938 Nobel Prize winner Pearl S. Buck and 2000 Nobel Prize laureate Xingjian Gao as examples. It is a comparative study of both writers' novels, of the global-local receptions, and of current theoretical debates among the comparative literary scholars. Moreover, this research will examine the issues of popularity, the award fames, and the nationalistic zealotry of the writers within Chinese community and outside, in order to identify, and then to theorize the ambivalent cultural identity.
Keywords: The Other, the Native, alternative, subjectivity, literary award, Chinese literature
Dr. Meiling Wu
Assistant Professor, Department of Modern Languages and Literatures, California State University, East Bay