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The Monster That Is HistoryHistory, Violence, and Fictional Writing in Twentieth-Century China$
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David Der-WeiWang

Print publication date: 2004

Print ISBN-13: 9780520231405

Published to California Scholarship Online: March 2012

DOI: 10.1525/california/9780520231405.001.0001

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Invitation to a Beheading

Invitation to a Beheading

(p.15) Chapter 1 Invitation to a Beheading
The Monster That Is History

David Der-wei Wang

University of California Press

This chapter deals with the theme of beheading in twentieth-century Chinese literature, focusing on the writings on decapitation by Youhuan Yusheng, Lu Xun, and Shen Congwen. It deals with decapitation as the primal scene of the twentieth-century Chinese imagination of national, ethnic, and personal trauma, and describes the advent of Chinese literary modernity in tandem with the eruption of violence. The chapter suggests that the beheading syndrome is seen as a source of century-long debates on civility versus savagery and nationalism versus colonialism.

Keywords:   modernity, monstrosity, Chinese literature, Youhuan Yusheng, Lu Xun, Shen Congwen, decapitation, literary modernity, violence, nationalism

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