Capitalizing China:
Writing Autography into World Literature

By Jun Lei

Modern Chinese Literature and Culture, vol. 30, no.1  (Spring 2018), pp. 87-109

This article examines the strategies and effects of Ling Shuhua’s cross-cultural and translingual practices from the 1920s to 1950s, with a focused textual and contextual analysis of her novel Ancient Melody. It studies the novel as an autography to emphasize the narrative strategies that Ling employs to mark her textual self as a migrant writer in a literary space beyond her native country to gain world recognition. Ling’s autography gestures towards a psychological reality rather than historical factuality through “dual writing” that involves self-writing, self-editing, and self-translating in both languages back and forth. Dual writing highlights the coexistence of the present writerly self and a written self who once lived in the now-distanced native land. It also emphasizes Ling’s textual agency despite the rocky path she traversed towards the world literary market. Ling uses the English language and her Anglo-American connections as a routing capital to progress to the world literary center, and employs China and Chineseness in the autograph as the rooting capitals to (re)claim her cultural and national identity.