This paper is based on the textual analysis method of the critical style and the spirit of Chen Ruo-Xi’s novel creation in the 1960s and 1970s. According to her early novels under the baptism of modernism in the 1960s, the series of Cultural Revolution novels represented in a strong realism style after her returning to the literary field with “Execution of Mayor Yin” in the 1970s. Her works featured both “reality” and “modernity”, and further reflected the phenomenon that the two different literary thoughts–realism and modernism were interlinked and supplementary to each other in the process of the creation of literary works.
Key words: Chen Ruo-Xi, Realism, Modernism, Taiwanese modern fiction,
Cultural Revolution fiction
In addition to cultural and national identification, the mentioned aspects of the studies ahead are relative either to immigrant fiction, Buddhist fiction or women-related issues such as feminist views on existentialism, the dispersing of women’s lives, women rights and so on. While still some study shows the symbiotic relationship between Chen Ruo-Xi's literature and her life or compare to her creation orientation and artistic skills with those of the modernist writers in her generation. After studying and classifying the previous discussion and research. This paper, adopted the method of textual analysis and based on the relationship between the "realism and modernism", focusing on the analysis of the realism spirit of Chen Ruo-Xi after she received the baptism of modernism in the 1960s, and found that she never cut apart with modernism when returning to the literature world with "Execution of Mayor Yin" and later created a series of Cultural Revolution novels with her turning to realism in the 1970s.
Before analyzing Chen Ruo-Xi's novels, firstly, this paper constructed the realist and modernist thoughts of the literature world in Taiwan. Secondly, it explored the artistic skills of modernism shown in Chen Ruo-Xi's early novels and the spirit she still remembered - Literature should reflect reality - after she received the baptism of modernism. Then, it mentioned that Chen Ruo-Xi did not forget to incorporate the aesthetic skills of modernism when creating a series of Cultural Revolution novels. This combination of "reality" and "modern" just shows the art that realism and modernism can actually be interchangeable and communicate with each other.
The modernists in Taiwan's literary field, like Chen Ruo-Xi, can be called "the realists who are a little different from the regular realists" because the modernism, which was shaped as "L'art pour l'art" is actually inseparable from the society. Although inspired by western modernism, the subject matter and skills revealed in her works are entirely from Taiwanese society. Some modernist works, at the very first glance, may feel abrupt, but there tend to be a different feeling and a more profound and lasting impression after carefully exploring the author's ideas in the lines. This just highlights the fact that, in addition to careful observation of the living environment, aesthetic principles and creation skills are both essential whether for modernist or realist literature. When Chen Ruo-Xi was creating novels, she accepted the baptism of western modernism, while focusing on the writing of the surroundings and the concern for the poor and weak, which showed her care for the people and the land, and shaped her unique realistic style of modernism. The works of this period can be said to be realistic works with strong modernist literary style. By the time she was creating a series of Cultural Revolution novels in the 1970s, it was not difficult to see that Chen Ruo-Xi's preference for realism, at this stage, is stronger than her intuition of art. In spite of this, Chen Ruo-Xi did not severed ties with modernism, but was good at incorporating modernist artistic skills into her realist works.
Although the existence of realism and modernism is "contradictive and antagonistic" in Taiwanese literature history, there is not a clear barrier between the two with reference to the essence of creation, on the contrary, they both exist in literary and artistic works and supplement each other. This can be confirmed by the phenomenon that both "reality" and "modernity" exist in Chen Rou-Xi's novels created in the 60s and the 70s. In other words, although modernism, which emphasizes personal and intrinsic, is an inward-looking aesthetic expression, and this inner thinking activity looks cut apart from the objective world at the first sight, the expression of personal loneliness, gloom and even private imagination of sexual desire, in fact, has countless interaction with the external reality. Therefore, the inner experience should be regarded as a miniature of an era and a society. What realist writers emphasize is the close combination with the social reality, which is a kind of outward-looking esthetics attitude, and the reappearance of the difficulties and the twists and turns of the entire era. The reason that the literature can long stand out in the stream of time with glitter, lies absolutely not just in the societal utilitarianism of realism, but in the intangible yet real sense, such as voice, colors, temperature and smell, which remains in the works. This relies exactly on the artistic skills of modernism, which deepens its content and form. Furthermore, modernism has its own view of “realism” and has changed the notion of the original realism. The once-again-raised literary thought of realism in Taiwan's literary arena in the 70s can be said to revive after having absorbed modernist literary ideas. The both thoughts have been interconnected and compatible with each other in the process of authors' creation.