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Date 2022-02-18


Hakka Women's Long River of History: On Female Care for History in Xie Shuang-tian's Mei Cun Xin Qu


Tai, Hua-Hsuan

Associate Professor, Department of Taiwanese Literature, Aletheia University


This paper discusses Xie Shuang-tian's Mei Cun Xin Qu (1974-1975) in the context of Roman-fleuve. Although Mei Cun Xin Qu meets what Yeh Shihtao calls “the trilogy-styled scope of big river,” the novel has attracted rather limited attention over the years. This is possibly because its historical perspective does not fit in with the postcolonial historical perspective of Taiwanese localist Roman-fleuve in the 1990s. Revisiting and investigating the original French Roman-fleuve discourse introduced to Taiwan and translated by Yeh Shihtao in the 1960s, this paper argues that Mei Cun Xin Qu is not only a historical novel characterized by Taiwanese Hakka culture but also speaks to Yeh's historical and humanistic concern of world literature. It is quasi the first Taiwanese female Roman-fleuve. Thus, even though Xie's Chinese nationalistic view of history is not compatible with later localist literary interpretations of Taiwanese Roman-fleuve, the novel should not be excluded from the genre. A resulting reflection is whether the Roman-fleuve framework constructed by Taiwanese localists with Taiwanese consciousness since the 1990s should be adjusted. Furthermore, from the perspective of gender consciousness, this paper examines the case of Xie's Mei Cun Xin Qu, pointing out that unlike male Roman-fleuve’s prototypical monotone of nationalism and female traits, female Roman-fleuve contrarily presents more diverse aspects of care and concern. Xie also departs from the male-centric thinking of male Roman-fleuve by writing with female consciousness and depicting Hakka women who become the economic sources of their families and who connect with the land. In other words, Hakka women are no longer foils for men in Xie's portrayal, nor are they merely symbolic beings of Taiwanese national consciousness.

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Bulletin of Taiwanese Literature