Gao Xingjian’s Escape from Orientalism

  • Michael Ka-chi Cheuk
Keywords: Self-Orientalism, Nobel Prize, Gao Xingjian, Theatre, World Literature


Of Mountains and Seas (1989) and Snow in August (1997) are two plays which Gao Xingjian completed in France and contain direct references to ancient Chinese cultures. With reference to Gao’s “cold” theatrical techniques of suppositionality and tripartite acting, I argue such plays not only expose the Orientalist impulses in their portrayals of Chinese mythology and Zen Buddhism but also breathe new life into these ancient Chinese traditions. By highlighting Gao’s emphasis on observation, this paper demonstrates how his “escape” from Orientalism via literature is less about the avoidance of Orientalism than the reflexive observation of Orientalism.


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Author Biography

Michael Ka-chi Cheuk

Michael Ka-chi Cheuk is Lecturer in English and Comparative Literature at The Open University of Hong Kong. He completed a PhD on Gao Xingjian’s pre-Nobel plays and censorship at SOAS University of London. He is now leading a Hong Kong Research Grant Council-funded project on Gao Xingjian's post-Nobel works.

How to Cite
Cheuk, M. K.- chi. (2021). Gao Xingjian’s Escape from Orientalism. Archiv orientální, 89(2), 365-387.