In her article "Photography in Wang's Chang Hen Ge (Song of Everlasting Sorrow)" Hong Zeng analyzes Wang's novel in the context of imagery following the theoretical framework of photography as proposed in the work of Xun Lu and Roland Barthes. According to both Xun Lu and Roland Barthes, the spectacle of photography is tied to the notion of the "the theater of the dead." Further, according to Walter Benjamin, photography is linked with the motif of exile: it is the estrangement between self and image under the spotlight, the daily enlarged disparity between the perennial life preserved by the photograph and the reality of the corporeal being subject to the erosion of time. Wang's novel features a protagonist whose nostalgia for the beauty of 1930s Shanghai gradually loses her contact with reality in the contemporary world. Zeng's analysis with the notion of photography as postulated by Xun Lu and Barthes suggests that the novel's central perspective of exile, death, images of the past, and the divorce of body and image results in the protagonist's sense of loss of reality.

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