In their article “Suffering as Becoming: A Genealogy of Female Suffering in Chinese Myth and Literature,” Peina Zhuang and Jiazhao Lin undertake a comparative study of three Chinese mythical and literary novels: the Chinese myths of Chang’eh, Ding Ling’s Miss Sophie’s (1928), and Bi Feiyu’s novel The Moon Opera (1999). They focus on the point that the characterization of all three women (or female personae) is centered on their common act of taking some sort of medicine. However, they also historicize and politicize these three texts, setting them respectively in the contexts of the establishment of patriarchy in the Han Dynasty, the spread of colonialism at the beginning of the 20th century, and the sexual revolution that began with China’s Reform and Opening Up in the 1970s. In this way, Zhuang and Lin delineate an encompassing, trans-historical genealogy of Chinese female suffering. Thus, rather than seeking a single model of female suffering in this context, they approach the issue genealogically. Here they make three main arguments. First, an emphasis on the ethical and political aspects of suffering distinguish Chinese female suffering from the female suffering found in most western cultures. Secondly, disease and death always seem to be closely associated with, indeed even to signify or symbolize, Chinese female suffering in Chinese myth and literature. However, the essence of this suffering may paradoxically be found in both the disintegration and the integration of political practice and ideology. Thirdly, far from this suffering being something essential, having a concrete form, it is rather a process of becoming other within the wider, more encompassing cycle of political destruction and reconstruction.
and Lin, Jiazhao.
"Becoming as Suffering: A Genealogy of Female Suffering in Chinese Myth and Literature."
CLCWeb: Comparative Literature and Culture
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