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date: 26 January 2020

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter analyzes the Chinese web fantasy novel A Dream of Returning to 1997, created and serialized between 2004 and 2005 by the pseudonymous author Tonglingzhe, as a basis for reflecting upon the medial and commercial pragmatics as well as the ideological framework of web literature. With its plot of a web fantasy aficionado who achieves literary and economic success only after traveling back in time and reaping the fruits of his earlier unproductive spare-time activity, the novel offers a self-referential commentary on the genre of web fantasy and its infrastructure. Apart from fictionalizing the history of the genre and the company that runs its major platform (Qidian), the novel also reflects on, questions, and elides the binary oppositions between original and copy, as well as high literature and popular culture, thus allowing for a reflection on the real and imaginary economies and mediascapes of capitalist modernity.

Keywords: Chinese web fantasy literature, Qidian, A Dream of Returning to 1997, capitalist mediascapes

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