Language and Literature
What coming of age delineates the most is the struggle between the imaging of “how the world ought to be”, resembled in utopianism, and how the world is really experienced.
Giving up a utopia or switching from one utopia to another often imply the agonizing process of de-worlding and re-worlding on an individual level. Coming of age, in these cases, no longer follows the linear development, neither does it correspond with the biological stage of adolescence. Instead, it encounters ruptures and voids, where disorienting and rerouting constantly happens. The political power of utopia is leveraged by the alignment of the telos of modern history and the telos of individual lives. This happens most possibly during the coming of age period when an individual starts conceptualizing the world and searching for the meaning of life. It also happens most possibly in a society with lost tradition and broken culture where members are left in a void of belief. Ge Fei’s Peach Blossom Beauty depicts a lifelong Bildung constantly intervened in by de-worlding and re-worlding in the vicissitude of modern Chinese history. Temporality not only plays an important role in restructuring a utopia that is crucial for the protagonist’s Bildung, through which reworlding can be achieved but also exhibits its significance in envisioning alternative utopias at large that negotiate with the hegemonic grand narrative. This paper scrutinizes the multi-temporality in Ge Fei’s Peach Blossom Beauty and examines how different utopias are grounded.