Discerning Space, Situating Self
Discovery and Representation of the Sublime Landscape in Zhang Chengzhi’s Texts
Zhang Chengzhi is a well-known writer with multiple literary and cultural labels attached to his name, including educated youth writer, root-seeking writer, ethnic Hui writer, red guard, Muslim, fundamentalist, and spokesman for Jahriyya. Zhang is, however, famous for depicting three lands which have been considered to be fascinating images and primary backgrounds in his writing. This article proposes that the landscape is not merely background to serve his themes; instead it constructs an independent and symbolic world, while the inner world and outer world fuse together. Zhang discovers/represents the sublime landscape as a productive space to crystallize his idea of the sublime. In this way, landscapes effectively provide a material as well as a symbolic approach, allowing us to discern his sublime writing with a multicultural writing identity. This article aims to elaborate upon the ways in which Zhang transforms factual, natural, and geographical lands – as significant geographies to him – into aesthetic, ethical, ethnic cultural, and religious landscapes, how he imagines and constructs a cross-cultural sublime identity in both the local and global contexts, and in what way the representation of the sublime embodies his tactic of living and writing by transcending geographical, ethical, and cultural boundaries.
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