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Taipei Characters, culture shock and historical nostalgia

Viewed 194 times 2018-1-8 12:50 |System category:News| novel

Pai Hsien-yung(Bai Xianyong) is a renowned Taiwan writer. He was born in Guilin, Guangxi province in 1937. As described, he is a "melancholy pioneer". His father, Bai Chongxi(Pai Chung-hsi) was the famous Kuomintang general. Taipei Characters is his best-known collection of short stories.


Bai Xianyong was born in the purple. He is good at describing the upper crust life about the Kuomintang senior generals. With the decline of the Kuomintang power system, the people in "Taipei characters" have fled and migrated to Taipei and have lost the connection of their growth, live and combat. By depicting the characters' life and spirit in all walks of life, he tried to capture the intrinsical connection behind the dismal and riproarious scene. The characters can not find the way to home, also the way to spiritual homeland. He described typical characters to record the old time.


In Liang Fu Yin, Bai portrays an old, upright Confucianist General, Park. In A Dream of the Garden, Mrs. Dou shows the glorious life of the upper class society. In Winter Night, Professor Yu Qinlei tells the intellectuals' stagnant life. In Hua Qiao Rong Ji, teacher Lu shows his miserable love story and life. In addition, High-level social women Yin Xueyan, and low-level dancer Jin Daban. These honourable and normal characters are from different provinces or cities in mainland China. They had to accept the new culture and forget the original dialects and inherent customs. They intended to take responsibility to the nation and pursue their political ambition in the period, but they were defeated by the strong power from the bottom of society who were led by the Communist Party.


Taipei Characters is a collection of short novels that is created on the foundation of the true historical events, but it's fiction novel. Bai has acute insight and deep knowledge of literature. It's novel, but it seems like movie. He further depicted each character's personality, appearance, words, behaviors and conflicts around them under different context. Bai is proficient in Chinese writing, he used varied rhetorical devices to vividly recorded the bustling life and tragic fate. Through reading these stories, I experienced and understood the Taiwan immigrant groups' infinite recollection and vicissitudes of history. They were confused about the identity and unpredictable crisis.  


Culture shock and historical nostalgia are the major clues of these stories. The immigrants from the mainland China can not go back to the past, some people disappeared in the mood of despair and helplessness, some people integrated into the loal community and the culture.


Bai Xianyong, the author of Taipei Characters Photo/Baidu

(Opinions of the writer in this blog don't represent those of China Daily.)


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