The Development of a Taiwanese Poet in the Diaspora: Yang Mu's Prose Peregrinations Abroad

  • Taiwan Wenxue Yanjiu Xuebao (Journal of Taiwan Literary Studies)

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  • The contemporary Taiwanese author Wang Ching-hsien (penname: Yang Mu) occupies a nearly unique position in modern literature from Taiwan as a native Taiwanese with complex affiliations to modernism, nativism, lyricism, literary scholarship, and prose. He is best known for his poetry but he is a prolific writer of prose essays as well. Most of the scholarship on him in English focuses on his poetry. This essay seeks to examine more carefully several of Yang Mu’s most important essays, and it suggests that such an examination sheds important light on the other facets of Yang Mu’s life, in particular his poetry. The essays also all dwell on various experiences that Yang Mu had in the United States, his adopted second homeland. As an immigrant, Yang Mu is able to reflect on the strangeness and sometimes alienating dimensions of the United States, such as the wide-open spaces and social reserve of Americans in contrast with the crowds and more group-oriented culture he perceived in Taiwan. He also wrote extensively about his experiences as a graduate student at the University of California, Berkeley and some of his most important mentors. These experiences helped shape his literary sensibilities and work ethic and had a dramatic impact on the kind of writer Yang Mu came to be. The one consistent point running through his essays is the author’s sense of inclusivity and tolerance. Above all, Yang Mu is an eclectic poet and scholar of comparative literature, and a culturally hybrid intellectual.

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    Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International