Academic journal article Studies in Literature and Language

Inextricable Hallmarks of the Era: The Breakthrough and Predicament of Liang Xiaosheng's Writing

Academic journal article Studies in Literature and Language

Inextricable Hallmarks of the Era: The Breakthrough and Predicament of Liang Xiaosheng's Writing

Article excerpt


Novels of the educated youth brought great fame to Liang Xiaosheng, but meanwhile they hindered him from proceeding with the times. In the time when various avant-garde writing techniques are bombing in the literary world, Liang also tried to make a breakthrough in his writing ideas; he drew inspiration from Chinese traditional novels and western works, and innovated structure layout and language. However, the "Cultural Revolution's" moral critics and hallmarks of the era clearly remained in his works. Although Liang Xiaosheng failed to break through his inherent writing model, his spirit of pursuit is admirable; as one of the new period writers who "seek for change", he is quite representative.

Key words: Liang Xiaosheng; Breakthrough; Memories of the cultural revolution


For a long time, Liang Xiaosheng insisted on the writing method of realism. As a witness of Cultural Revolution, his novels of educated youth in 1980s reproduced their suffering and struggle, which roused the special memory of a generation of an era. In the 1990s, Liang Xiaosheng turned to the underclass, representing the stories of all walks of life in commodity economy times, and called for the return of the true, the good and the beautiful. However, as his writing goes deeper and the demand from social culture became diverse, his writing entered a bottleneck period for his usual writing method of realism became out-dated in the continuous renewing literature flow of 1990s.Therefore, he began to make a breakthrough in his writing model consciously.


LiangXiaosheng started to read Chinese and foreign masterpiece at an early age, "I started to read novels when I was in fifth or sixth grade of elementary school. Modern or ancient, Chinese or foreign, I diligently read any book I can borrow" (Liang, 1997 ). Books endowed him with more happiness than material could provide in his impoverished boyhood, which also comforted his spirit in his depressed life as an educated youth, and empowered him to make ceaseless efforts in his career of writing and teaching. Thus, Liang Xiaosheng is adept at imbibing resources, and fully expresses them in his writing. Liang Xiaosheng's trail of breakthrough mainly started in two aspects: the imitation of the traditional novel writing and study of western writing techniques. Imitation of Chinese classical literature is mainly manifested in the imitation of the form and recreation of the effects. In form, the classical Chinese version of Red Mill1 inherited the characteristic of the legends of Ming and Qing dynasties, and tales of humility. He narrated the plots of the legendary story by someone's memory; and Mr. Zhai's curse before death and the odd phenomena in the Red Mill enriched the mystique of the story. At the end of the story, the "Yishishi comments" is an obvious aspect of biographically historic literature, and Liang Xiaosheng simply used hundreds of words to express the profound theme of the novel. The biographic description about Mr. Zhai is also an inheritance from traditional classical Chinese novels: narrating the characters' names and family background at the beginning, then their deeds, and at the end setting the characters' fate according to good and evil standard; after Mr. Zhai's wife's death, Tao Te Ching is the only thing she leftbehind, which is a sharp contrast with her former merciless deeds. Another novel The Death bears some similarities with tales of mystery and the supernatural, in which the author tried to explore human nature and the meaning of living by the conversations between the human and the dead. The novel depicts a traditional Chinese female ghost, and presents an unique picture for the readers. The description about the appearance and acts of the death is deeply affected by classical novels, "gently tiptoed to the bedside", "She finally opens her mouth, her voice is as beautiful as the singing of the warbler and swallow, and as clear as jade beads falling on a plate. …

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