Chapter

Plays 1986–1990: Portraying the Individual

Jessica Yeung

in Ink Dances in Limbo

Published by Hong Kong University Press

Published in print July 2008 | ISBN: 9789622099210
Published online September 2011 | e-ISBN: 9789882207042 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.5790/hongkong/9789622099210.003.0006
Plays 1986–1990: Portraying the Individual

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From 1986 onward, Gao Xingjian's plays displayed an increasingly distinctive emphasis on the split between the individual self and the collective. The concern for the well-being of the individual turns into fierce criticism and interrogation of the Communist ideology of collectivism and the more traditional Chinese practice of demanding the individual's conformity to community ethical codes. However, this does not yet describe the full picture of Gao's individualism since in his plays written after 1986, the liberal humanist individualism is engaged in all kinds of interplay with a host of other sentiments and ideologies including nationalism, nihilism, and even Buddhist philosophy. The subjectivities of the individuals portrayed in those plays are therefore also inscribed with the traces of conflicting and varying cultural and ideological influences. This chapter examines the portrayal of the individuals in this group of plays.

Keywords: Gao Xingjian; collectivism; community; individualism; nationalism; nihilism; Buddhism; philosophy

Chapter.  10876 words. 

Subjects: Literature

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