Chinese Literature Flowing from Southeast Asia to Europe and America

  Everything is in constant development and change, and cross-regional overseas Chinese literature is no exception. Throughout the development of overseas Chinese literature, there is a trend of ups and downs between regions. The literary style has shifted from the Nanyang style to today’s European and American colors. Behind this literary phenomenon, the cultural identities of the writers in each region and their interest in the mainland readers. The degree of feedback is different, which determines the center change within the world Chinese literature, which shows the important role of writers’ subjective factors in literary works.
  Overall flow – Nanyang style to European and American colors
  Nanyang style refers specifically to the textual characteristics reflected in Chinese literature in Southeast Asian countries. At the beginning of the 20th century, under the influence of the May Fourth New Literature Movement in my country, the Singapore-Malaysian Chinese literature, which highlighted the Nanyang style, led overseas Chinese literature to its peak; With the growth of native Chinese writers, Southeast Asian Chinese literature has gradually become a unique literary form that belongs to each country and expresses local social life in Nanyang.
  European and American colors mainly refer to the Chinese literary colors in Europe, North America and Australia. It is generally composed of immigrant literature formed by the early Chinese labor life, national literature and diaspora literature unique to the war, and cultural identity literature in the second half of the 20th century. On the one hand, Chinese literature in this region presents a high degree of cultural integration, among which, the sense of history, nostalgia, rootlessness and wandering become the tone and main line of the narrative of this literary work; on the other hand, those Chinese writers who were born and raised in the West , due to growing up in dual languages ​​and cultures, and making difficult choices and cultural adjustments in the face of parental cultural traditions and foreign cultural forms, works often contain rich Chinese cultural heritage, showing Chinese community life in a heterogeneous cultural context scene and mentality. Through the works of Chinese writers, people can not only see the vivid portraits of overseas Chinese living beings, but also the issues of ethnicity, culture and humanity revealed by them.
  On the whole, China’s overseas Chinese literature has distinct regional characteristics, so the flow from Southeast Asia to Europe and the United States is also an inevitable historical development. In the past two centuries, Chinese immigrated to all parts of the world, and Chinese literature, as a medium for Chinese to express their feelings, has also spread everywhere. Wherever there are Chinese, there is Chinese literature. Since the beginning of the last century, overseas Chinese literature has formed peaks in the following regions. Mainland Chinese literature—Taiwan, Hong Kong and Macao literature—Southeast Asian Chinese literature—North American, European and Australian Chinese literature. Compared with the culture and history of the first three regions In terms of the closeness in origin, thus showing “potential interaction” with each other; the transition from Southeast Asia to North America and Europe and Australia is more valuable for research, because these two regions exist in both political economy and social culture. Huge difference.
  Before the 1950s, Southeast Asia was an important center of Chinese literature, but it could basically be regarded as an extension of Chinese literature overseas, and Taiwanese and Hong Kong literatures were far from forming their “self-sufficient survival” system. The literature centered in Shanghai and other places often maintains a “synchronized response”, and the entire Chinese literature pattern is basically under the influence of the one-way radiation of new literature in mainland China. But from the 1950s, this pattern began to be broken. On the one hand, Chinese literatures in different regions are still connected by blood, and the political and geographical isolation makes Chinese literatures in different regions begin to enter a track of “doing their own way”, and each has started its own localization process. However, the “isolation” has not been severed. There are still various kinds of communication between Chinese literatures in various regions, and that kind of internal communication is even more meaningful. It actually provides a new integrity of the new national literature. In particular, Taiwanese and Hong Kong literatures are different from mainland literatures, but they still belong to the same whole.
  On the other hand, multi-directional radiation and two-way interaction between Chinese literature in various regions began to form, especially in Southeast Asian Chinese literature. The process of localization accelerated significantly and entered the period of independent national literature. This is because the Southeast Asian Chinese literature after the 1950s has begun to seek identification with the culture of the country of residence with the mentality of “as long as it takes root, it is its own home”, and gradually formed a kind of literature that is completely different from traditional immigrant literature. A new model of “fallen leaves returning to their roots” – “rooting” literature. With the development of time, it is a historical necessity to downplay Chinese writing, and the vicissitudes of Chinese society and the long history of Chinese humanities gradually “retreat” in overseas Chinese literature and become a background and a potential influence for creation.
  The European and American Chinese literature represented by the United States is a typical transplanted literature. The advantage of being far away from the Chinese mainland makes the writers more sober and objective to look at the cultural mechanism of the mainland and its Chinese culture. In addition, the tolerant attitude of American culture makes people in it more sober and objective. With a cross-cultural perspective, the Chinese writers write imaginary Chinese homes and real American life.
  Take American and Chinese literature as an example. In the 1980s, American and Chinese literature made great achievements and was gradually accepted by the mainstream American society. At least nearly 20 Chinese literature works have won important American awards (including American Book Awards, American book critics, etc.). Works Award, Academy of American Poets Award, Broadway Screenplay Award, etc.), or ranks in the best-seller list in the United States, and has been well received by American critics. Many of these works have been translated into Chinese, “returning” to the Chinese world, continuing the way that Lin Yutang’s works had a wide impact in both the English and Chinese worlds.
  Compared with the Southeast Asian Chinese literature, which has a long history, the long and profound Chinese culture is directly exposed to the strong Western culture in Europe and the United States, which has not only been tested but also enhanced its vitality. This pattern may be what the cross-cultural 21st century is most willing to see. , this trend of inter-regional flow also heralds the inexhaustible life prospects of European and American Chinese literature.
  Different cultural identities of writers Overseas Chinese writers in
  various regions, due to their different experiences and cultural environments, directly determine the prosperity of Chinese literary creation. A crucial factor in the shift of literature to the European and American Chinese literary circles. The gradual monocultural identity of Southeast Asian Chinese writers is gradually losing ground in the confrontation with the dual cultural identities of European and American Chinese writers. In response, European and American Chinese literature replaced Southeast Asian Chinese literature as the world of the 21st century. Center for Chinese Literature.
  When discussing cultural identity, we should first look at the cultural background of Chinese writers in the two regions and their relationship with the Chinese parent culture.
  We will first notice the differences in social and cultural environments between the East and the West. In Southeast Asian countries, the long-standing and profound Chinese traditional culture and the economic success of the Chinese constitute a complex and tangled relationship between the Chinese society and the local ethnic groups in the ruling advantage. The real embarrassment of being excluded from the state power and mainstream culture to varying degrees, and the imbalance formed by cultural and economic advantages, make the Chinese in Southeast Asian countries in the eastern cultural environment put the collective survival and development of the ethnic group first, while the Chinese The common experience of the ethnic and local ethnic groups in the past when they were colonized and plundered made it possible for the Chinese to live on an equal footing with other ethnic groups in a compatible and complementary manner. This is reflected in literature. Naturally, it is always emphasized that it is not the literary identity of the country of residence for Chinese literature and overseas Chinese literature. In the United States, on the one hand, the Chinese have faced the strong oppression of Western culture at the modern level, and they have also experienced discrimination by colonial culture; on the other hand, they have been constantly influenced by European and American liberal ideas. Reflected in literature, writers naturally regard the expansion of creative freedom and the personal choice of literature as crucial. Whether it is the personal memory of being subjected to racial and political discrimination, or the cultural fear of being in the West and the long geographical distance, all Chinese writers have strengthened their attachment to the spiritual homeland. The cultural mechanism of the American immigrant society is also sufficient to accommodate the Chinese national psychology of “proud of their roots”. Such a political and cultural environment will prompt some writers to raise the banner of “Overseas Chinese Literature” as Chinese.
  In today’s globalization context, the strengths of Eastern and Western cultural contexts are different. The Eastern cultural region in which Southeast Asia is located is affected by the radiation of Chinese culture to varying degrees. Compared with the local indigenous culture, Chinese culture is obviously stronger. There is no lack of “assimilation” mentality in the Chinese society of other ethnic groups in coexisting with the society of other ethnic groups. Therefore, Chinese families described in Chinese works always have a strong traditional filial piety color. Even if they write about families formed by combining Chinese with members of other ethnic groups, the focus is on the identification and accommodation of other ethnic groups with Chinese family relationships and customs. Although the history and quantity of Chinese works in Southeast Asia are far greater than those of Meihua, the works rarely write about the images of other ethnic groups. This situation is precisely the manifestation of the self-sufficiency and isolation of Chinese families and societies in Southeast Asia. On the other hand, Meihua writers are surrounded by strong Western cultures, and Eastern cultures are obviously weak. They are deeply attracted by Western contemporary culture in art. The family life and behaviors described are dominated by psychological conflicts.
  Chinese literature in Southeast Asia has been prosperous for a long time, rich in origin, broad in foundation, deep in accumulation, and wide in radiation, and has become an important center of overseas Chinese literature. The number of Chinese in North America is far from comparable to the number of Chinese in Southeast Asia, and the foundation and thickness of Chinese literature are naturally lacking. However, among the Chinese writers in North America, the proportion of foreign students and skilled immigrants is much higher than that of other regions. In addition, they often emigrated directly from the mainland, Taiwan, and Hong Kong to the New World, and their literature seems to be closer to pure Chinese literature than Chinese literature in other regions outside China. Therefore, comparing Southeast Asia and North America, the two overseas Chinese literature centers, roughly speaking, perhaps the foundation, scale, number, and team of writers of Chinese literature in Southeast Asia are higher than those in North America, while the artistic literacy, educational level, and The foundation of scientific training and the number of top-notch writers are better than those of Southeast Asia.

  In particular, Chinese writers in Southeast Asia generally changed their identities in the late 1950s, and both political and cultural identities have been integrated into the society and culture of the host country. Even expressing his loyalty from time to time, this single identity and cultural vision will undoubtedly weaken the momentum of his writing about the feelings of the home country, and instead work towards the development direction of the national literature of the country to which he belongs.
  However, European and American Chinese literature often makes people feel that the creators can “take root” on the level of material life, but always insist on “returning the fallen leaves to the roots” on the spiritual and cultural level. No wonder the wave of Chinese literature is pouring into North America. If we say that the early overseas Chinese workers, as well as the family members, clansmen, folks, etc. who came across the ocean in the name of “visiting relatives”, as well as the later entrepreneurs of similar nature who went to the United States to make a living and entrepreneurs, constitute a huge group of Chinese American society. . They use Chinatown as a cultural way of living environment, making Chinatown sticking to Chinese cultural traditions, in a sense, an overseas “base” of Chinese culture. In recent years, the self-proclaimed “grassroots writing” by some American and Chinese writers is actually “Chinatown writing” that reflects the way of life and culture in Chinatown. In contrast, the large number of immigrant groups who emigrated by studying abroad and lecturing, no matter in their cultural background, living conditions, or the way of intervening in American society and the degree of acceptance of American culture, are all in line with the traditional “Chinatown”. Groups are very different.
  But no matter what type of immigrant, in their life course, they have the same double experience and double vision. On the one hand, they have life experience and cultural experience in their home country before going abroad, which is not only their blood identity, but also their cultural background and life starting point when they enter a foreign country. They often first observe, appreciate and distinguish the life and culture of foreign countries based on this, which to a certain extent affects their mentality and degree of integration into foreign society. Not only the first generation of immigrants, but even the descendants of the second and third generations of immigrants, it is difficult for them to completely refuse to carry on the phantom of life and cultural imprint that was imprinted on the hearts of their parents. On the other hand, they have life experience and cultural experience in a foreign country. For this experience and experience, whether it is resentment or joy, resistance or investment, they all constitute their new life content and vision. Whether intentionally or not, they will also use this new experience and vision to reflect and even reflect on their life experiences, social concepts and cultural awareness in their homeland, and have a cross-cultural vision that is currently popular.
  This dual identity and cross-cultural perspective derived from dual life experiences has special significance for the creation of overseas Chinese literature at the spiritual level, and is the most characteristic of overseas Chinese literature.
  Compared with the increasingly single identity and cultural vision of Chinese writers in Southeast Asia, their works pay more attention to the life picture and social and cultural development of the country they belong to; overseas Chinese literature will naturally turn to the European and American Chinese literary circles, due to the diaspora of European and American Chinese writers. With dual identities and cross-cultural perspectives, their works are more in line with the needs of cultural exchanges in cross-cultural contexts, and also enable overseas Chinese literature to develop in depth from a broader cultural perspective.

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