Post-mao new poetry in the light of deconstruction

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Post-Mao Chinese new poetry may still be highly controversial in terms of its poetic experiments and the undecidablity of its position in literary history. However, its attempts to destabilise previous concepts and meanings of Chinese language have undoubtedly made a tremendous impact upon Chinese poetry, and indeed contemporary Chinese culture. In so far as the challenges to the stability of meaning are concerned, the poetic experiments of the new poets offer themselves as practical instances which in a way could be said to parallel deconstruction theory in the postmodern West This paper looks at the poetry of the Obscure poets and Third Generation poets from the perspective of the critique of conceptuality as advanced by Jacques Derrida. It examines specifically the intertextual relations which we can discover between a body of postmodern theory and the poetic practices of post-Mao poets in contemporary China, and in so doing offers an insight into the reading of Chinese new poetry. The paper argues that such a perspective is far from spurious since a certain instability of meaning is at the heart of both movements. Of particular interest for the question of the relative instability introduced by the poetry of the Obscure and Third Generation poets is Derrida's central infra structural tool 'Differance'. Dijferance and such other infrastructual devices as metaphoricity, the critique of structure, supplementarity, iterability and pharmakon will be used to support the main argument of the paper.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)107-122
Number of pages16
JournalSocial Semiotics
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1999
Externally publishedYes


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