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  Literature and Artistic Development

Principle (Fang-Ming Chen)


         From the prospective of literary arts, the establishment of a historical view of the ROC indeed can be difficult as well as challenging. Since there are too many variables within the confines of historical development, constructing a comprehensive historical view cannot possibly merely follow a linear and chronological process. The so called “comprehensiveness” must be concerned with the history of the Republic on the Chinese mainland as well as that of Taiwan. This kind of historical interpretation undergoes mutually reflective stages resulting from a double vision approach. In 1911, when the Republic was established, Taiwan already had been reduced to the status of being a Japanese colony for well over 16 years. Therefore it differed greatly from the creativity dimensions expected from the Republic. Although Taiwan was mired in the colonial stage, the unfolding of the Taiwan new literature movement did not fall behind the ensuing development resulting from China’s May 4th movement. This persisted until 1920, and at this time, Taiwan society formally entered the stage of modernization. By cross-referencing, the China of the past and Taiwan were both in the process of groping for new form, new content and new thinking in regard to the literary arts.

          Both the orientations of China and Taiwan toward modernity can be attributed to the fact that both have been under the impact of western imperialism as well as imbedded capitalism. From a literary perspective, not until the late Qing era did classical literature still dominate the minds and thoughts of traditional literati. At that time, it was over half a century away from 1840, and all of China not only had to confront challenges resulting from the influence of western culture but also the political reforms internal to the society. From the past literati perspective, they already sensed the advent of a new age, whereas from the modernization progress perspective, China gradually and slowly made contact with modernity. On the other hand, Taiwan society was forced to accept the coming of the modernity movement in a most radical form. Both Chinese and Taiwanese societies separately accepted two different historical paths, and the most ostensible one was highlighted in regard to language. The Chinese classical writing format was gradually christened by the spoken language movement, whereas language education at Taiwan started to incorporate the Japanese mindset, thoughts and expression formats.  

         The year of 1960 was marked as a pivotal year, and related historical-phase interpretations have been quite diverse. The most notable ones attracting lots of attention have been advocates of indigenous and unification perspectives. The indigenous advocates acknowledged that postmodernism overtly cared about the individuals internal activities related to the mind and soul and lacked care or yearning for the actual Taiwan. Nonetheless the unification advocates acknowledged that postmodernism was really the sub-stream or downstream of western imperialism aesthetics. These two different assertions, in actuality, acknowledge that all literary arts must be forced-fed with distinct nationalism or ideology.  

         The period from 1970 to 1980 was the most drastic stage for Taiwan historical transformation. On the international and political stage, Taiwans status had been isolated on a daily basis. The advent of the opposition movement witnessed in Taiwan also coincided with that of Taiwans isolation. Similarly, counteracting the political development trends, the literary arts of the homeland movement also were poised to take off. From a much bigger picture, ethnicity, class and gender issues no longer are being left behind and being rigidly defined.  







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