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Transcultural Identity Constructions in a Changing World

Edited By Irene Gilsenan Nordin, Chatarina Edfeldt, Lung-Lung Hu, Herbert Jonsson and André Leblanc

This volume takes a broad outlook on the concept of transculturality. Contributions from 19 authors and specialists, of almost as many diverse origins, grapple with this concept, each in their own way. How can transculturality be described? How can it help us understand our world? Many of the chapters deal with literary texts, others with the stories told in movies, drama, and visual art. There are texts about the complexity of the European Burqa-Ban debate, the negative aspects of Portuguese multiculturalism, or the border-crossing experiences of Filipino immigrants in Ireland. Several chapters examine stereotypes, the idea of movement, the dissolution of cultural borders, or the nature of bilingual writing. It is a unique contribution to the field, on a virtually global scale.
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The Dao of Writing: Transcultural Literary Identity in Gao Xingjian’s Novel Soul Mountain

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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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