Self-Referential Narrative and Creative Filiation in Chinese American Writing: Maxine Hong Kingston and Shirley Geok-lin Lim
This paper aims at discussing Shirley Geok-lin Lim’s 1996 memoir – Among the White Moon Faces – as inviting a conceptualisation and examination of lineage conceived otherwise than (only) on a biological mode. I am interested in showing that when the question of filiation is examined from a literary perspective and focuses on different possible relations to a writer and a narrative belonging to a different generation, it is also intimately related to an attitude towards cultural heritage.
My basic postulation is that references to The Woman Warrior: Memoirs of a Girlhood among Ghosts, a seminal and uniquely innovative work in (Chinese) American letters are visible on a double level, diegetic and extradiegetic, and weave a fruitful relationship not only with the conceptualisations of self-representation that emerge in Kingston’s first opus, but also with the narrative and discursive configurations that sustain them. By tracing and analysing these different echoes and resonances it will be evinced how in Lim’s and Kingston’s case, the questions of heritage or, forthat matter, the one of transmission, go beyond the simple following in someone’s footsteps or unilateralism to which they are usually reduced, weaving into the literary field other connections than those established by chronology or aesthetics.
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