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HE Chengzhou£¨Nanjing University£©


HE Chengzhou, Yangtze River Chair Professor in English and Drama, School of Foreign Studies, and Dean of School of Arts, Nanjing University; Foreign Member of Academia Europaea. President of Jiangsu Comparative Literature Association, Director of Chinese-Nordic Cultural Center, and Chinese Director of the Nanjing-Brown Joint Program in Gender Studies and Humanities. Research interests: modern Western drama, comparative literature, and critical theories. Representative books: Henrik Ibsen and Modern Chinese Drama, The Nordic Canonical Works (Chinese), and The Performativity in Literature.


Nativist Narrative, Eventfulness and Historical Trauma: Mo Yan¡¯s ¡°Hallucinatory Realism¡± in Sandalwood Death


Based on the close reading of Mo Yan¡¯s novel Sandalwood Death, this paper offers an interpretation of his so-called ¡°hallucinatory realism¡± from the following three perspectives: nativist narrative, eventfulness and historical trauma. These three aspects are not separate from one another, but rather form an interactive and interconnected network, with a strong focus on the sandalwood punishment as the major event. In terms of narrative, one of the unique features of Sandalwood Death is the local Maoqiang opera, which has existed in the Gaomi region for more than a century. Maoqiang opera not only plays a role in telling stories but also penetrates into all aspects of the novel. As the key event in this novel, sandalwood punishment undergoes three stages of narrative: First, the preparations for the event of punishment. Not only does the story need some expositions, but the readers also should be made ready for the horrible scenes of torture. Second, detailed descriptions of the execution process, which are terribly shocking to the readers. Third, the different responses to the execution that are orchestrated among different groups of people witnessing the torture. The narrative of the sandalwood punishment that has gone beyond the realistic basis reenacts the historical trauma the German colonial rule in Shandong brought to the local farmers at the turn of the 20th century. In this novel, Mo Yan is engaged in the literary recreation of folk heroes through nativist narrative and reinvents certain extraordinary event of colonial trauma, which demonstrates his native sentiments as well as humanistic care. These constitute the essence of Mo Yan¡¯s hallucinatory realism.