"World Literature" between Transcultural Poetics and Colonial Politics: Yang Chichang, Le Moulin, and Surrealism in Taiwan

Fangdai CHEN*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Journal PublicationsJournal Article (refereed)peer-review

Abstract

This article investigates the artistic and political significance of the Le Moulin poetry society (Fengche shishe) to both Taiwan literature and world literature. Founded in 1933 in occupied Taiwan, the group consisted of Taiwanese and Japanese poets united by their aim to adopt the surrealist poetics that circulated from France via Japan. Although revisionist efforts have been made in the past two decades to integrate Le Moulin into Taiwan’s literary history, existing scholarship has largely adopted postcolonial and Sinophone frameworks. Huang Yali’s 2016 documentary, however, propounds the possibility of considering Le Moulin as world literature in Kuei-fen Chiu’s dual definition — participating in the formation of a world community of cross-cultural exchanges and opening up new literary worlds through aesthetic experimentation.

This article expands Chiu’s model by contending that the Le Moulin poets’ subjugation by colonial politics and their controversial articulations of so-called “colonized mentality” were integral parts of their participation in and identification with world literature. This investigation of their political awareness and efforts to participate in the surrealist movement reveals how they unceasingly crusaded for the survival of a “world of literature” against external forces that sought to eliminate literature’s expressive potential in response to its time. Although their unilateral transculturation of French surrealism does not fit with David Damrosch’s model of translation and global circulation, Le Moulin’s contribution to the continuation and maintenance of surrealism and avant-garde poetry prompts us to reconsider and recognize the merits of works of world literature that have so far been marginalized.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)313-344
JournalModern Chinese Literature and Culture
Volume34
Issue number2
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2022

Keywords

  • Yang Chichang
  • Le Moulin
  • Taiwanese poetry
  • Surrealism
  • world literature
  • colonialism and postcolonialism
  • transculturation studies

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