「啞行者」蔣彝的「中國眼光」及其跨文化書寫

The Chinese Eye of Chiang Yee, The Silent Traveller, and His Cross-cultural Writings

Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis

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Detail(s)

Awarding Institution
Supervisors/Advisors
  • Jialin LIU (External person) (External Supervisor)
  • May Bo CHING (Supervisor)
Award date7 Sep 2022

Abstract

蔣彝(1903-1977)在海外的四十四年(1933-1977)中,先後定居英、美兩國,還曾遊歷過法國、日本、澳大利亞、新加坡等國家,有著豐富多彩的跨疆域、跨文化生活經驗,亦留下體量豐厚的遊記和其他各類書寫。蔣彝的跨文化經歷與書寫都呈現出與其他同時期華人作家不同的道路,他以「中國眼光」解構西方的風景事物、文化藝術,在「啞行者」遊記中回應彼時西方之於中國的刻板印象。他的跨文化寫作策略彰顯出明確的中國特質,並在此特質的基礎上建構世界主義身份,使得他在多疆域多文化的旅行中始終保有自信、平等的文化觀,同時又清晰可見其與中國的血脈關聯。

本文在跨文化視域中重新審視蔣彝的書寫與身份,論證蔣彝跨文化書寫及身份建構策略之于現今不可忽視的現實價值。在此研究前提與目的下,本文收集了其各類出版物,包括遊記、回憶錄、小說、兒童文學、詩集,以及其發表在國內外各類報刊上的文章、書信、文稿等其他資料,綜合理解其生平與寫作的內在關聯,尤其是他作為跨文化旅行者及跨文化生活記錄者的雙重身份。本文包括緒論、五章正文及結論,詳細閱讀蔣彝的公開出版物和私人文稿,多維度把握其自我書寫與身份建構。

緒論闡釋選題的背景及價值,結合現有蔣彝研究的不足之處,指出重新閱讀、研究蔣彝的適時意義,並明確研究思路。

第一章就蔣彝最為享譽世界的文化標籤「啞行者」展開討論,探究此標籤的形成過程折射出的蔣彝身份的延異。蔣彝由「瘋」到「啞」,並把「啞行者」带入自己的多疆域的旅行,使得「啞行者」在跨文化的語境中產生了更多的意涵,這一變化正折射了他身份在跨文化中延異的過程。在跨文化生活初期,「啞行者」代表蔣彝的他者困境,而在他以「啞行者」為筆名、書名發表作品之後,「啞行者」又指向了他希望通過自己的書寫去改變彼時英國社會對中國人的偏見的意圖。從「蔣瘦顛」到改稱「啞行者」,蔣彝實則並未放棄自己「革命者」的理想。

第二章聚焦蔣彝「中國眼光」的跨文化藝術闡釋策略,分別從論述《中國畫》的出版背景、揭示「中國眼光」闡釋方法和其實際影響出發,探索蔣彝這一闡釋策略有別於其他華人作家書寫的獨特性。蔣彝在《中國畫》一書中形成的「中國眼光」闡釋策略,有效地傳播了中國藝術理念,在中西藝術交流史上有著十分重要的意義,該書還與蔣彝其他的藝術作品和藝術交流活動一併,共同參與了20世紀上半葉中國藝術在英國的傳播,對英國現代藝術理論和繪畫實踐均產生了一定的影響。「中國眼光」的跨文化藝術闡釋策略奠定了蔣彝跨文化寫作的基調,從此成為蔣彝此後跨文化書寫中闡釋異域風景事物和文化的重要手段。

第三章集中討論蔣彝跨文化遊記書寫。該章從遊記的文體特性著手,論證蔣彝遊記中自傳特質,在此基礎上討論蔣彝跨文化遊記的書寫特色。本章尤其關注了遊記中「詩、書、畫一體」的寫作方式,以山水為文化隱喻的解構策略,以及他通過對話「他者」完成身份角色、文化倒置與混雜的企圖。通過這些論述可見蔣彝在延續其「中國眼光」闡釋方式之上,依賴中國文化底蘊豐富了海外華人自傳書寫的形式。於是他的遊記看似是在書寫西方的風土人情,其實亦是在向他的英語讀者講述中國。因此,蔣彝在遊記中表達自我身份的同時,引導讀者一起思考不同文化之間的可互相闡釋性,以此回應彼時西方社會對中國人的刻板印象與偏見。

第四章以蔣彝晚年回顧的自我身份評價——「從重耳、蘇武」到「蔣彝」的變化歷程為線索,分析他在跨疆域生活中應對「流亡」的策略。本章討論家鄉作為一種特殊「地方」的特性,探究蔣彝通過消解地理方位、重建「親切經驗」在在海外構建家鄉的策略。「重耳」指向蔣彝去國流亡的初期雖然生活困難但卻躊躇滿志的狀態,「蘇武」則代表蔣彝在1950年前後因國籍身份變更而產生在邊境的漂泊感。隨著蔣彝逐漸在跨文化生活中拓展事業版圖,他也在確定書寫的目的過程逐漸找到了自我,成為「蔣彝」。

在前四章從不同的側面具體闡釋蔣彝的身份與書寫之後,第五章深入探討其跨文化身份。在總結前序章節體現出來的蔣彝身上矛盾性的基礎上,援引《紐約時報》對蔣彝的評價「世界主義者」,討論蔣彝在跨文化生活及書寫中表達出來的「世界主義者」的特征。但同時不可忽視的是,他的「世界主義者」特性又有著矛盾的一面。他在公開的場合、私人的文稿中又時而流露出一種確切的民族意識、對「Chinese」有自己的思考,把歸國之旅稱作「于歸」,體現出其身份認同各種與中國的血脈關聯,這也便是其「世界主義者」身份「有根基」之處。

結論基於上述章節對蔣彝跨文化身份與書寫的多層次思考,總結其獨特性有別於其他華人作家的價值,尤其是其書寫中國的闡釋方式,突出了他在跨文化維度中的意義。「啞行者」蔣彝的「中國眼光」以及他的書寫,應當在跨文化的語境中被重新審視,這不僅涉及到他的寫作在海外華人非母語寫作圖譜中的定位,還關係到他在多疆域生活中展現出來的「有根基的世界主義者」的身份特質。
Chiang Yee (1903-1977), throughout his oversea years (1933-1977), dwelled in England and America successively, and had travelling experiences to France, Japan, Australia, Singapore, and etc. His rich transnational and transcultural experiences inspired him to publish travel writings as well as several other forms of works, both of which initiated innovative approaches different from other contemporary Chinese oversea writers: he interpreted the western sceneries, culture, arts, conventions via his "Chinese Eye", and responded to various stereotypes towards Chinese in his "Silent Traveller" series; his cross-cultural strategies demonstrated certain Chinese traits, which was also the foundation for his cosmopolitan identity construction, and ensured his cultural confidence and equality in cross-cultural communications.

This paper re-examines Chiang Yee's writings and identity construction in cross- cultural discourse, to discuss the unneglected significance of his cross-cultural writings and identity construction strategies at that time and at present. Under these research premises and objects, this research unfolds the interaction between Chiang Yee's life and writings, especially his dual roles as both a cross-cultural traveler and recorder, based on the comprehensive study of Chiang Yee's publications, including his travel writings, memoir works, novels, children literature, poems, and articles published on newspapers in English or Chinese, as well as his correspondences, manuscripts, and other private documents.

The paper contains an introduction, five chapters in main body and a conclusion, aiming at close reading Chiang Yee's publications and private archives, to understand his writing self and identity construction.

The introduction illustrates the research background and its significance. By exploring into the shortcomings of current Chiang Yee studies, this part highlights the importance of re-reading and re-studying Chiang Yee, and clarifies research structures.

Chapter one focuses on Chiang Yee's most well-known cultural label- "The Silent Traveller", and analyzes the différance of his identity conveyed in this label. This chapter discusses the change of Chiang Yee's pennames, from "Chiang Shoudian" to "The Silent Traveller",and of the connotations of "The Silent Traveller" in his cross-cultural lives, which revealed his consistent political ideals and cross-cultural identity construction process. His change from "crazy" to "Silent", and his behavior of using "Silent" in the western discourse, multiplied the indications of "The Silent Traveller", which indicates the process of différance of identity. In the early stage of his cross- border life, "The Silent Traveller" reflected his otherness due to his poor English. When he started to publish books in title of "The Silent Traveller", it then referred to his ambition to change the stereotypes and bias of the western society towards Chinese. Though Chiang Yee changed his penname from "Chiang Shoudian" to "The Silent Traveller", he had never given up his ideal of being a revolutionary.

Chapter two discusses Chiang Yee's "Chinese Eye", by uncovering this cross- cultural interpretation strategy and its impact, to emphasize his distinct writing features comparing to his contemporary oversea Chinese writers. In his The Chinese Eye: An Interpretation of Chinese Paintings, this strategy was formed, which forged the broadcast of Chinese art in Britain in the first half of the 20th century, together with his other art works and communications. These then had impact on British modern art theory and painting techniques. The interpretation strategy of "Chinese Eye" framed Chiang Yee's later traveling writings in his interpreting cross-border scenes, culture and experiences.

Chapter three studies Chiang Yee's travel writings and his identity construction in these writings. After arguing the genre characteristics of travel writings, this chapter discuss the autobiographical features of Chiang Yee's cross-cultural travel series. This section respectively illustrates the features in Chiang Yee's travel writings, including the artful expressions of combination of "poetry, calligraphy, and painting", the strategy of metaphorizing landscape, and Chiang Yee's intention to use dialogue with "the other" to reserve and hybridize different cultural roles. By analyzing these features, we can find that in his continuity of using "Chinese Eye" as an interpretation strategy, Chiang Yee enriched the forms of biographical writings among oversea Chinese community based on his Chinese cultural background. Through these approaches, Chiang Yee managed to tell stories of China underneath the narratives about the west. Hence, in travel writings, Chiang Yee not only constructed his identity, but also invited his English readers to think about the mutual interpretation between different cultures, and then helped them reflect bias and stereotypes.

Chapter four traces Chiang Yee's evaluation of his identity construction at his old age, - "from Chong Er to Su Wu to Chiang Yee", to further discuss his strategies of confronting "exile" crisis in cross-cultural years. This chapter unfolds the characteristics of hometown as a special "place" to uncover Chiang Yee's strategies of eliminating geographical sense as well as his reconstructing "intimate experiences of place" to find hometown in displacement. "Chong Er" referred to Chiang Yee's inspiring ambition in the hard situation of being the Other in his early years in Britain, while "Su Wu" indicated his diasporic state around 1950, when his nationality was changed at that time. After all, with his devotion to writings and publications, he gradually found his goal of cross-cultural writings and eventually became "Chiang Yee".

After discussing the multiple aspects of Chiang Yee's writings and identity construction, and the paradoxical aspects of Chiang Yee in the four chapters above, the fifth chapter further explores Chiang Yee's cross-cultural identity. This chapter quoted the critic of New York Times of Chiang Yee as "a true cosmopolitan" to discuss his cosmopolitanism expressed in his writings. However, Chiang Yee's being cosmopolitan is a contradiction, as he expressed a certain national consciousness in either public speeches or private archives. He had specific understandings towards Chinese, and used "return to the original family after marriage" to indicate his returning to China after forty-two years, which imply his unbreakable connection with China in a cross-cultural way. And this complexity could be concluded as the result of "rooted cosmopolitanism".

The conclusion is the analysis of the multi-layered discussions of Chiang Yee's cross-cultural identity and writings. In particular, Chiang Yee's differences from other contemporary Chinese oversea writers, especially his interpretation approaches to present China, justify his significance in cross-cultural dimension. His interpretation approach of "Chinese Eye", and his strategy of integrating paining into travel writings should be relocated in the non-native language overseas Chinese writings; also, his construction of "rooted cosmopolitanism" is worthy being studied in his cross-border lives.

    Research areas

  • Chiang Yee, Cross-cultural, Identity, Travel Writings, Cosmopolitanism