Please use this identifier to cite or link to this item: http://hdl.handle.net/10397/73176
Title: Persistence and dignity in the face of absurdity: country teachers in Liu Xinglong's Tianxingzhe
Authors: Leung, Kin Wah (梁建華)
Advisors: 譚景輝 (CC)
Keywords: Chinese literature -- 20th century -- History and criticism
Issue Date: 2018
Publisher: The Hong Kong Polytechnic University
Abstract: 湖北作家劉醒龍於2009年發表長篇小說《天行者》,是劉醒龍對其舊作中篇小說〈鳳凰琴〉(1992年發表)的擴充和續寫,以一所位處大山深處的農村小學「界嶺小學」為故事發生地,描寫上世紀最後十多年農村民辦教師的生存狀況。《天行者》是劉醒龍邁進知命之年時期的作品,他有豐富的人生閱歷,經歷過人生的順境與逆境,對人生命運與生存意義有所感悟而動筆創作。《天行者》獲選為2011年第八屆茅盾文學獎的五部得獎小說之一。論文將回顧劉醒龍的成長經歷,他創作小說題材相關的時代背景,他的文學創作之路,由此探究長篇小說《天行者》在作者的創作歷程上的位置,繼而研究《天行者》文本的意義。論文第一章回顧劉醒龍成長歷程及時代背景。第一節回顧劉醒龍成長歷程,整理出劉醒龍的成長、教育、進入社會工作等的生命歷程,此時期是二十世紀六十年代至九十年代。劉在大別山區的英山縣成長,故第二節回顧劉的成長地英山的民國時代歷史背景和當地民間信仰現象。第三節回顧新中國立國時期形成的城鄉二元結構社會,與及政府訂立使農村戶口轉成城鎮戶籍的「農轉非」政策。第四節回顧中國在改革開放時期的時代變革。劉踏進社會工作時,中國正經歷急劇的社會變遷,這時代背境正是劉從事文學創作時直面的社會環境。小說《天行者》的主題是鄉村小學教育和民辦教師,故本節回顧中國的農村教育狀況和民辦教師現象和其轉成公辦教師(簡稱「轉正」)的種種問題,對現實世界的民辦教師問題瞭解,將有助於理解小說《天行者》的含義。論文第二章概述劉醒龍文學創作的軌跡。本章分三節討論。第一節回顧劉醒龍文學創作路,和對劉醒龍創作有影響的人物和事件,由此探討劉的人生立場與情感、和文學創作理念。第二節選取劉醒龍在三個創作時期中、在題材和人生立場等維度上有代表性的九篇小說作略述評析,嘗試從這些小說的題材、情節和思想等方面來討論劉的文學創作軌跡,若這些小說與本論文討論範疇有相關之處,亦進行討論。第三節以《天行者》與中篇〈鳳凰琴〉作比較,探討兩部作品的不同之處。兩部小說分別之處有四點:一、創作時的時代背景不同;二、創作時的心態和心境不同;三、創作的目的不同;四、小說所反映的荒謬性深淺不同。論文第三章分析劉醒龍以「荒謬處境下的固守與尊嚴」的主題來創作長篇小說《天行者》。本章首先討論小說的兩條敘事脈絡,與轉正有關的故事情節是明顯的,而界嶺小學三名民辦教師的使命與願景追求則是潛藏不顯的,此兩者均是民辦教師的努力目標。本章再分五節討論,第一節討論小說呈現荒謬處境的情節。荒謬處境有其成因,故本節先分析小說以「界嶺的劉關張」一詞,來反映上級政府沒有訂立一整套讓民辦教師轉正的政策,是荒謬處境形成的一個原因。本節繼而分析小說的荒謬處境情節可分為兩種類型。第一種類型是一個人對外部世界認識不足,按照自己不全面的認識而形成的信念來行事,然而願望與客觀條件不配合,縱使付出巨大努力,還是出現結果與預期相反的局面,產生了荒誕的結局。第二種類型是一個人身處於扭曲的外界環境之下,難以採用正常方法處事,被迫使用非常手段,可能是委曲求全,也可能是鋌而走險等,由此產生了荒謬情境。兩種類型的荒謬處境的分別之處,是第一種類型是不自覺的,第二種類型是自覺地有意為之。本節以小說的三個故事情節來討論其荒謬處境。接着第二節討論小說人物在荒謬處境下,有着天意弄人的悲劇命運的三個情節。第三章第三節討論民辦教師的固守精神,源於他們的使命追求及鄉村的倫理之情。本節討論三個與固守精神相關的議題,分別是升降國旗儀式、「聖的角落」、和「界嶺小學的毒」。升降國旗儀式成為民辦教師固守精神的象徵,儀式也有強化民辦教師使命的含意。論文理解劉醒龍說的「聖的角落」概念是一個人嚮往一種「神聖」的信念或宗教信仰,使人體悟到自身的生命的意義甚至使命,由此而產生的行為與儀式。本節分析小說描寫三個呈現「聖的角落」的情節。接着分析中了「界嶺小學的毒」的兩個小說人物,是懷有愧疚的複雜心理。第四節反思民辦教師固守教育崗位卻難以改變客觀現實的處境。第五節討論荒謬處境下固守者的個人尊嚴。「苕」是湖北方言,語意與現代普通話的「傻」相近。「苕」像詛咒,嘲笑固守者,有需要作「苕的解咒」,以「聖的角落」來呈現個人尊嚴。
Mr Liu Xinglong, a Hubei writer, published his novel Heavenly Mission (Tianxingzhe 天行者) in 2009. The novel is an expansion and continuation of his 1992 novella Country Teachers (Fenghuang qin 鳳凰琴), that tells a story of the life of community-hired (minban 民辦) teachers during the last decade of the twentieth century in a village school called Jieling Primary School (界嶺小學, hereafter JPS) located in remote rural mountainous area in China. Liu was over 50 years of age at the time of the composition of the novel when he had already experienced the good and the bad that life had to offer. The work can thus be read as his reflections on fate and the meaning of life. This novel was one of the five novels that won the Eighth Mao Dun Literature Award (茅盾文學獎) in 2011. This thesis reviews the progress of Liu as a writer and the social background of his novels and his literary life. The position of Heavenly Mission in the creative journey of Liu is examined, and the meaning of the novel studied. The first chapter looks into the early budding period of the writer Liu and the social background of the times. In the first section, Liu’s upbringing, education and career -- the period between the 60s and 90s in the 20th century -- are studied. Liu grew up in the Dabie mountainous area (大別山) of the Yingshan County (英山縣 ) in the eastern region of Hubei Province. In the second section, the historical background of Yingshan County during the Republican period as well as the local folk beliefs is assessed. The third section examines the dual social structure that accounts for the development of the urban and rural identities in the early stage of the People’s Republic of China and the state’s policy on the conversion of the resident registration from rural to urban (nong zhuan fei 農轉非). The fourth section reviews the changes during China’s reform and the opening-up era when China was experiencing rapid social and economic changes, the very environment that Liu confronLiu confronts in his writings. The theme of Heavenly Mission involves rural primary school and community-hired teachers. This section therefore looks into the situation of rural education in China, the phenomenon of community-hired teachers and the difficulties they encountered in becoming state-employed (gongban 公辦) teachers. The change to state-employed teachers is known as zhuan zheng (轉正). Understanding the reality and problems faced by community-hired teachers will shed light on the meaning of the novel.
The second chapter, which is divided into three sections, outlines Liu’s literary path. The first section gives an overview of Liu’s literary life, and the people and the events that are influential to his writings with a view to explore the standpoints, the emotions and the ideologies of his works. In the second section, nine novellas/novels from the three creative stages of Liu are selected for brief discussion. The selected novellas/novels are significant in that they reflect many of Liu’s positions. On the basis of their themes, plots and ideologies, this section discusses the evolving creative path of Liu’s literature, in the process highlighting the relevance of these novellas/novels to the overall discussion of this thesis. The third section compares Country Teachers with Heavenly Mission in exploring the four points of differences between them; 1) the time setting and the environment of Liu’s novels, 2) his mental and emotional state when they were written, 3) his creative objectives, and 4) the varying degree of absurdity that these two novels serve to reveal. The third chapter analyzes the theme of Heavenly Mission, which, in Liu’s words, is human’s “persistence and dignity in the face of absurdity.” This chapter first discusses the two narrative strands of the novel, one obvious and the other subtle. The former refers to the conversion of community-hired teachers to state-employed teachers, while the latter to the vision and mission of three JPS teachers. Both the obvious and the subtle strands spell out goals that the JPS teachers strive for. The chapter is then divided into five sections. The first section analyzes the absurd episodes in the novel. It first examines the implication of the term “Liu-Guan-Zhang of Jieling” (界嶺的劉關張), which brings to light that the first cause of absurdity in the novel springs from the absence of a coherent policy on the part high-level government to handle the conversion of community-hired teachers to state-employed teachers. This section proceeds to discuss the two different kinds of absurd situations found in the novel. The first kind comes as a result of a person’s insufficient knowledge of the working of the external reality. When a person acts in accordance with a belief based on his limited knowledge, his desire is out of sync with the objective conditions of the world. No matter how hard he tries, the outcome of his actions will contradict his expectations, leading to absurdity. The second kind occurs when a person lives in a distorted world in which he finds it hard to deal with things in a normal way and is forced to take exceptional measures. He may make compromises or become reckless, both of which also lead to absurd situations. The difference is that the first kind of absurd situations does not come into a being through the conscious decisions on the part of the individual while the second kind does. This section then explores the absurd situations in three episodes in the novel. The second section discusses three episodes in which the characters, finding themselves in absurd situations, live out a tragic fate against a force that seems much larger than themselves. The third section of this chapter discusses the spirit of persistence of the community-hired teachers which originates from their pursuit of their vision and mission as well as from the ethics of the rural society in which they live. This section then focuses on three points of plot details related to the persistent spirit: the ceremony of raising and lowering the national flag, the “Holy Corner” (聖的角落), and “the drug of JPS”(界嶺小學的毒)”. The raising and the lowering of the flag becomes a symbol of the persistent spirit among community-hired teachers, but it also has the effect of strengthening their resolve to pursue their mission. By Liu’s concept of the “Holy Corner,” this thesis understands that prompted by a “sacred” or religious belief to which he is inclined, a person is awakened to the meaning or the mission of his existence, which then occasions a set of corresponding behavior or ritual. This section analyzes three episodes in the novel that manifest the idea of the “Holy Corner.” It then proceeds to investigate the complex feelings of guilt and regret in the two characters that have addicted to “the drug of JPS.” The fourth section reviews the situation of community-hired teachers, who, despite their loyalty to their educational duties, fail to change the objective reality that they face. The fifth section discusses the dignity of those who remain persistent in the face of absurdity. They are mocked as fools (苕, shao, which means a foolish person in Hubei dialect). Shao laughs at these persistent people like a curse, which has to be lifted for human dignity to resurface in the “Holy Corner.”
Description: 234 pages : illustrations
PolyU Library Call No.: [THS] LG51 .H577M CC 2018 Leung
URI: http://hdl.handle.net/10397/73176
Rights: All rights reserved.
Appears in Collections:Thesis

Files in This Item:
File Description SizeFormat 
991022090657803411_link.htmFor PolyU Users167 BHTMLView/Open
991022090657803411_pira.pdfFor All Users (Non-printable)3.41 MBAdobe PDFView/Open
Show full item record
PIRA download icon_1.1View/Download Contents

Page view(s)

25
Citations as of Jul 10, 2018

Download(s)

5
Citations as of Jul 10, 2018

Google ScholarTM

Check


Items in DSpace are protected by copyright, with all rights reserved, unless otherwise indicated.