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Abstract

Chinese film The Heroine in the Besieged City 孤城烈女 (Gucheng lienü, 1936) is based on 19th-century French writer Guy de Maupassant’s (1850−93) story “Boule de Soif.” The Chinese version of Boule de Soif, like her French counterpart, is caught in a moral dilemma: should she surrender her body to a bad guy to save her fellow citizens? Both women choose to sacrifice themselves for others. However, the outcome and worthiness of the sacrifice in the Chinese film are just the opposite to those in the French literary source. Maupassant makes the girl’s sacrifice pointless and worthless by portraying the beneficiaries of her act as mean snobs who look down upon her even more afterward. The Chinese heroine, in contrast, is enshrined as a martyr. This difference highlights the radical transcultural and transmedia transformations when a foreign literary source traveled to China and finally landed on the Chinese silver screen. This article examines some Republican films adapted from foreign literature to explore the gender discourses constructed in them.

Language

English

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