Desire as trap : chronotope of labor in Mao Dun's "Spring silkworms"

Alternative Title

欲望的陷阱 : 重读茅盾《春蚕》 : 并论劳动的时空构成

Document Type

Book chapter

Source Publication

The scholar (volume 2) = 学人(第二辑)

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This paper argues with a reading of Mao Dun's "Spring Silkworms" that, in the realist representation of labor, the narrative text itself id constituted in the play and interplay of specific temporal and spatial forms —— without which no human consciousness can take shape, and no desire can organise itself (into concrete discourse).

The study is made in an attempt to look for the superimposition of a discursive paradigm in the ways in which the temporal and spatial organisation of narrative are actively involved in articulating the desire of labor. The possibility of two distinct sets of "chronotope" (Bakhtin's category of timespace) is entertained; and each is found to be interfering with the other, and together they bring the story of labor of Old Tongbao's village to a narrative closure full of unsettling contradictions. For lack of better terms, this closure is hence identified as the discursive paradigm of "history" in Mao Dun's story, thus adding one more dimension to what Fredric Jameson might want to call the ideology of form in the Chinese realist chronotope of labor.

This idelogy (of form) draws attention, then, not only to the process of commodification at work in Mao Dun's realism, but also to the problematic nature in the reader's acceptance of realism as flawless transcript of the real and in the critic's tendency to transcode contradictions in the realist discourse to contradictions contained within the reality represented alone.



Additional Information

ISBN of the source publication: 7539903805

Recommended Citation

Chan, C. S. (1992). Desire as trap: Chronotope of labor in Mao Dun's "Spring silkworms". In 王守常, 汪晖 & 陈平原 (Eds.), The scholar (volume 2) (pp. 490-512). Nanjing: 江苏文艺出版社.

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