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date: 18 February 2020

Abstract and Keywords

A favorite with critics intent on theorizing a female literature in Chinese, Eileen Chang’s works offer fertile ground for investigating the gender politics of representation. Ironically for one of the most acclaimed twentieth-century Chinese writers, Chang was obsessed with failure. Although failure is fascinating precisely because of its unpredictability—one can fall short of or deviate from the definition of success in such a multiplicity of ways that it is difficult to generalize—we can note that it is often through failure and a panoply of negative emotions that Chang calls gender and sexual norms into question. In another twist, Chang’s fascination with failure manifests itself as a repeated exploration of the romantic, moral, and political failings of the modern girl, an exploration that implicitly responds to the discourse on the shortcomings of the modern girl that ran rampant in the Chinese media throughout the 1930s–1940s.

Keywords: Eileen Chang, failure, modern girl, feminist criticism, female writing

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