By Michael Berry

The portrayal of historic atrocity in fiction, movie, and pop culture can exhibit a lot concerning the functionality of person reminiscence and the moving prestige of nationwide identification. within the context of chinese language tradition, movies equivalent to Hou Hsiao-hsien's City of Sadness and Lou Ye's Summer Palace and novels equivalent to Ye Zhaoyan's Nanjing 1937: A Love Story and Wang Xiaobo's The Golden Age jointly reimagine prior horrors and provides upward thrust to new historic narratives.

Michael Berry takes an leading edge examine the illustration of six particular ancient traumas in sleek chinese language heritage: the Musha Incident (1930); the Rape of Nanjing (1937-38); the February 28 Incident (1947); the Cultural Revolution (1966-76); Tiananmen sq. (1989); and the Handover of Hong Kong (1997). He identifies basic modes of restaging historic violence: centripetal trauma, or violence inflicted from the surface that evokes a reexamination of the chinese language state, and centrifugal trauma, which, originating from inside, conjures up hectic narratives which are projected out onto a transnational imaginative and prescient of world desires and, occasionally, nightmares.

These modes let Berry to attach portrayals of mass violence to rules of modernity and the state. He additionally illuminates the connection among ancient atrocity on a countrywide scale and the discomfort skilled by means of the person; the functionality of movie and literature as ancient testimony; the intersection among politics and paintings, heritage and reminiscence; and the actual merits of recent media, that have stumbled on new technique of narrating the weight of historic violence.

As chinese language artists started to probe formerly taboo elements in their nation's historical past within the ultimate many years of the 20 th century, they created texts that prefigured, echoed, or subverted social, political, and cultural tendencies. A heritage of Pain recognizes the far-reaching impression of this paintings and addresses its profound function in shaping the general public mind's eye and conception-as good as misconception-of glossy chinese language history.

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Extra info for A History of Pain: Trauma in Modern Chinese Literature and Film

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This was during the Russo-Japanese War, so there were many war [slides], and I had to join in the clapping and cheering in the lecture hall along with the other students. It was a long time since I had seen any compatriots, but one day I saw a film showing some Chinese, one of whom was bound, while others stood around him. They were all strong fellows but appeared apathetic. According to the commentary, the one with his hands bound was a spy working for the Russians, who was to have his head cut off by the Japanese military as a warning to others, while the Chinese beside him had come to enjoy the spectacle.

While the specific ways it does so vary widely, the startling frequency with which eros and thanatos crisscross, complement each other, and sometimes collide points to the conflation of sex and ecstasy with violence and pain as a fundamental aspect of the psychic and cultural imagination of trauma. My exploration of this relationship begins in the prelude with the radical juxtaposition of pleasure and pain seen in various representations of torture, and continues throughout the book in a variety of amalgamations, as seen in various texts that challenge the relationship between pleasure and pain—often with the body itself as the site of negotiation and/or battle.

Despite these differences, we must come to terms with the fact that there are certain fundamental traits that tie all atrocities together. As contemporary Taiwanese novelist Wu He, whose work is discussed in chapters 1 and 3, writes, “the inherent nature of what a ‘massacre’ entails is always the same, regardless of the process or final death toll, for a massacre involves a fundamental betrayal of life by life itself, it is inhuman, cannibalistic” (Wu He 2003:100). While each and every example of historical trauma deserve to be examined and considered as a unique event with its own individual narratives of victimhood, perpetration, and testimony—none of which can be easily framed, compared, or understood—the horrific nature of atrocity and the human toll it takes involve similar questions that haunt historical memory, whether of Nanjing, Taipei, Hiroshima, Auschwitz, or Rwanda.

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