Title

Screwed by fate? The prostitute and the critique of liberalism in Backed against the sea

Document Type

Book chapter

Source Publication

Reading Wang Wenxing : critical essays

Publication Date

1-1-2015

First Page

53

Last Page

77

Publisher

Cornell University East Asia Program

Abstract

Wang Wenxing’s Bei hai de ren 背海的人 (Backed against the sea) deals with the personal and social danger of undisciplined desire in the context of a country undergoing capitalist modernization (both industrialization and urbanization). It deals with desire in terms of Buddhism and liberalism. This chapter argues that the novel represents liberalism as a more capacious container for desire than Buddhism, and it offers a not entirely negative sketch of the bourgeois family. Wang Wenxing critiqued the traditional Chinese family, and the family in general, in his first novel, Jia bian 家變 (Family catastrophe). Backed Against the Sea shows the reader what fate might have in store for a vulnerable, dissolute person who is so worried about getting tied down that he never forms a family on Taiwan.

Publisher Statement

Copyright © 2015 Cornell East Asia Program

Access to external full text or publisher's version may require subscription.

Additional Information

ISBN of the source publication: 9781939161581

Full-text Version

Publisher’s Version

Recommended Citation

Sterk, D. (2015). Screwed by fate? The prostitute and the critique of liberalism in Backed against the sea. In S.-n. Sciban & I. Pidhainy (Eds.), Reading Wang Wenxing: Critical essays (pp. 53-77). United States: Cornell University East Asia Program.