The Dao of Writing: Transcultural Literary Identity in Gao Xingjian’s Novel Soul Mountain
Walker, there is no path; you make the path as you walk. Antonio Machado
In his Nobel Lecture in 2000, the Sino-French writer Gao Xingjian (born 1940) defines literature as a process of transformation into language of the individual’s personal feelings and thoughts. Advocating the liberation of literature from the stranglehold of ideologies and intellectual dictatorship, Gao suggests that literature “must return to the voice of the individual” in order to survive and be able to make “profound revelations about the universality of human nature” (The Case 45). In Gao’s phrase, “the voice of the individual” does not refer to the self as a philosophical concept, the outcome of theoretical speculations and metaphysical abstractions; rather, it is the writer himself, whose cultural and linguistic backgrounds do not impede the disclosure of a transcultural trajectory within his culturally embedded writings. Indeed, what Gao indicates as the eternal topic of literature, namely the “existential dilemmas of human existence,” does not occur in a purely a-cultural context but permeates the life of the writer, living in a given time and space and reflecting upon the dynamics of human nature from his individual perspective.
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