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Disparate Images: The Mother-Father Metaphor in Y. C. Kuan’s Autobiographical Narratives

Abstract: Images of mother and father have constructive function and metaphorical meaning in Y. C. Kuan’s autobiographical narratives. Kuan’s multi-editions of Beautiful Feelings: My Life in Germanystart with his mother’s Bai-yun Shan (White-Cloud Mountain) dream that supposedly conceives his life (“the beginning”) and end at Babaoshan (Babao “Mountain”) Cemetery where his mother and father’s funerals are held, a philosophical metaphor for “the end” of life. From an extended and complicated metaphorical perspective of “mother-father”, there is an ultimate interpretation of Kuan’s legend of life, the tragi-comedy of his family, and the vicissitude of the country. The differentiated attitudes in Kuan’s narratives towards his mother and father are projected metaphorically onto the images of “mother-land” and “father- government/Party”. Kuan’s ambiguous attitudeto the Party and its leaders also reveals the complicated correlation between the political system and the characters of the people as a whole.

Keywords: Kuan Y. C.; autobiographical narratives; metaphor of mother-father

Author: Zhao Shankui is Professor of Comparative Literature in College of Humanities at Zhejiang Normal University, China. He also connects with Shanghai Jiao Tong University Center for Life Writing. This articles is part of the work in the Major Project “Compilation and Research of Overseas Life–Writing on Modern Chinese People” (IN. 11&ZD138), sponsored by the National Social Science Foundation of China.Email: zhaoshankui@163.com.