Li-Chun HsiaoApr 18, 2023
The Soldier-Writer, the Expatriate, and Cold War Modernism in Taiwan
Freedom in the Trenches
Lexington Books 2022
The Soldier-Writer, the Expatriate, and Cold War Modernism in Taiwan: Freedom in the Trenches (Lexington Books, 2022) argues that what appeared to be a “genesis” of new literature engendered by the modernist movement in postwar Taiwan was made possible only through the “splendid isolation” within the Cold War world order sustaining the bubble in which “Free China” lived on borrowed time. The book explores the trenches of freedom in whose confines the soldier-poets’ were surrealistically acquiesced to roam free under the aegis of “pure literature” and the buffer zone created by the US presence in Taiwan—and the modernists’ expatriate writing from America—that aided their moderated deviance from the official line. It critically examines the anti-establishment character and gesture in the movement phase in terms of its entanglements with the state apparatus and the US-aided literary establishment. Taiwan’s modernists counterbalance their retrospectively perceived excess and nuanced forms of exit with a series of spiritual as well as actual returns, upon which earlier traditionalist undercurrents would surface. This modernism’s mixed legacies, with its aesthetic avant-gardism marrying politically moderate or conservative penchants, date back to its bifurcated mode of existence and operation of separating the realm of the aesthetic from everything else in life during the Cold War.
Li-Chun Hsiao is professor at Waseda University in Tokyo, teaching at its School of International Liberal Studies, as well as its Graduate School of International Culture and Communication Studies. Hsiao is also the author of the monograph The Indivisible Globe, the Indissoluble Nation: Universality, Postcoloniality, and Nationalism in the Age of Globalization (ibidem Press, 2021).
Li-Ping Chen is Postdoctoral Scholar and Teaching Fellow in the East Asian Studies Center at the University of Southern California. Her research interests include literary translingualism, diaspora, and nativism in Sinophone, inter-Asian, and transpacific contexts.