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Polemic, Reality and Chinese Malayan Revolutionary Literature: Jin Zhimang and His Practice of "Here and Now"



Parallel abstracts

The 1947-1948 literary polemic on the "uniqueness of Mahua (Chinese Malayan) literature" is often seen as a watershed to the establishment of local consciousness among Mahua writers, and the contents are repeatedly called upon by critics in different historical times. The debates have since set the tone for two major propositions in Mahua literature: firstly, the relationship between localism and Chineseness, namely the problems of identity and belongings of Mahua writers and their works; secondly, the significance of literary realism (as opposed to modernism), which concerns the role of aesthetics and politics in literature. Critics often regard the above issues in rather binary frameworks, and this article argues that revisiting the literary practice of Jin Zhimang, the key proponent of the "Mahua" camp during the debate, would help overcome the binary caused by the Cold War. The article seeks to understand the contextual formation and meaning of Mahua revolutionary literature. As a partisan writer from the Malayan Communist Party, Jin Zhimang's works are not only a testimony to revolution but also a practice of "literature as revolution". Nevertheless, while he was loyal to the writing techniques required by revolutionary literature, he also made efforts to transcend the boundaries and functions of revolutionary narratives. This article addresses the inherent rebellious and pertinacious nature of Jin's revolutionary literature through the analysis of his novella Tok Yang Yang and His tribe (1954) and novel Hunger (1960). It argues that the function of Mahua revolutionary literature is not merely about reflecting objectively the "here and now", but goes further to recognize that as prefiguring the "future".


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