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date: 19 January 2020

Abstract and Keywords

Anchored by an illustrative analysis of Malaysian Chinese author Ng Kim Chew’s 2001 short story “Kebei” [Inscribed Backs], this introduction lays out some of the central concerns of the volume as a whole. In particular, the chapter uses Ng’s story to reassess some common assumptions about what modern Chinese literature is, and how the category might alternatively be understood. In the process, the chapter structures its discussion around an analysis of an early definition of the Chinese term wen, meaning “marking,” “text,” or “culture/civilization”—using three different elements of this early definition to introduce the three parts of this edited volume. The volume is divided into three parts, on Structure, Taxonomy, and Methodology. Part I examines a set of structural elements that inform how texts are produced, distributed, and consumed; Part II focuses on issues of literary taxonomy, and particularly the historical, national, and formal groupings that comprise the category of modern Chinese literature; and Part III illustrates various analytical methodologies that may be used to interpret literary texts.

Keywords: Ng Kim Chew, Sino-Malaysian literature, etymology, literary taxonomy, wen

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