Yang Lian and the Flâneur in Exile

Jacob Edmond

in A Common Strangeness

Published by Fordham University Press

Published in print June 2012 | ISBN: 9780823242597
Published online January 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780823242634 | DOI:

Series: Verbal Arts

Yang Lian and the Flâneur in Exile

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This chapter develops an alternative to the entrapping oscillation between sameness and difference that bedevils contemporary approaches to comparative literature. It does so by exploring the encounter between a paradigmatic figure of European modernity, the flâneur, and contemporary Chinese poetry. The chapter first establishes how the flâneur emerges from the relationship between Europe and non-Europe and furnishes a comparative approach based not on mimesis and vision but on encounter, touch, and the non-logical constellations of Walter Benjamin’s dialectical image. The chapter identifies the comparative poetics of the flâneur in the encounter between Chinese poet Duoduo 多多 and Charles Baudelaire’s “Le soleil” in the early 1970s. It then explores the elaboration and negation of the figure in 1980s xungen, or “root-seeking,” writing and especially in the poetry and prose written by Yang Lian 杨炼 during his exile in Auckland, New Zealand, after June 4, 1989.

Keywords: Yang Lian 杨炼; flâneur; exile; Duoduo 多多; Charles Baudelaire; Walter Benjamin; New Zealand; Chinese poetry; June 4, 1989; comparative literature

Chapter.  10811 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Literature

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