Arts and Culture
The three papers offered in this panel may seem loosely linked and yet the connection is significant. First, Hongloumeng represents the height of Chinese fiction and its creation needs to be further demystified. Dr. Tao Zhang has taken a new perspective on the novel, that of females organizing a poetry society, and hypothesizes its authorial intention: to test the political climate or to provide clues for a better appreciation of the novel. He could make a breakthrough in this endeavor. The organizing of overseas Chinese students (both male and female) in Japan, and especially in Tokyo, as a group to publish newspapers or magazines is somewhat similar to the formation of poetry groups. Through their magazine fiction and other genres, these groups intend to inculcate an awareness among overseas students and to teach their compatriots back home. The women’s liberation movement catches the attention of Dr. Junfang Bai. Her focus will be on early Chinese women’s liberation, its infancy and its limitations. The fiction included in Dr. Bai’s study is short and in wenyan literary style while the newspaper/magazine fiction in Singapore emerged in a similar way. A handful of enlightened intellectuals who migrated to Singapore organized themselves as a group, clique or party to publish newspapers, and as fiction was popular, these newspapers included columns for fiction in wenyan style in their supplements. Singapore Chinese newspaper fiction at the early stage is more or less in line with that of China as well as that of Hong Kong and, but to a lesser extent, of Japan. The wenyan fiction was popular here even after the overthrow of the Qing Dynasty. Fantastically, these fiction pieces are influenced by another fiction masterpiece, the collection of short stories Liaozhao Zhiyi. Women’s liberation was to some extent echoed in Singapore Chinese newspapers, with the inclusion of many stories on women.