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Ferrari, Rossella (2005) 'Il selvaggio di Gao Xingjian: nativismo o modernismo? [Gao Xingjian's Wild Man: Nativism or Modernism?].' In: Scarpari, M. and Lippiello, Tiziana, (eds.), Caro Maestro... Scritti in onore di Lionello Lanciotti per l'ottantesimo compleanno. Venice: Cafoscarina, pp. 533-545.

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Wild Man (Yeren, 1985) –the last of Gao Xingjian’s works to be performed in China – is ranked among the finest achievements of Chinese experimental theatre in the 1980s, and regarded as a watershed in his career. Although Gao has repeatedly asserted his refusal of any particular artistic or political affiliation – or '-ism' – his work has been variously associated with both Western modernism and native Chinese 'roots-seeking' trends. Wild Man is highly significant in this respect, since it has been seen as both the climax of the experimentalists’ appropriation of Western avant-garde paradigms such as those of Artaud and Brecht and the starting point for a recuperation of tradition. This critical disagreement and the complexity of cultural relations characterizing the text lead to the question of assessing whether it is primarily founded on a foreign/modernist or indigenous/nativist model. An investigation of the play’s thematic motives, stylistic devices, and cross-cultural legacies reveals, however, its fundamental refusal of any clear-cut designation or unidirectional description. Its multilayered structure makes it neither totally Western nor totally Chinese, neither modernist nor nativist, or better, both modernist and nativist. This essay argues that Wild Man represents Gao’s return to tradition through a modernist gaze, and an attempt to produce a 'Eurasian' theatrical form blurring the boundaries of culture, time and space, and whose essence is not revealed by means of exclusion, but only by means of encounter – of past and present, nativism and modernism, Chineseness and Otherness. Moreover, by embracing and being “retro-influenced” by a number of modernist models that were themselves previously 'contaminated' by Asian traditions, Gao performs here not only an act of productive reception, but also one of cultural re-appropriation.

Item Type: Book Chapters
SOAS Departments & Centres: Departments and Subunits > Department of East Asian Languages & Cultures
Legacy Departments > Faculty of Languages and Cultures > Department of the Languages and Cultures of China and Inner Asia
ISBN: 9788875430580
Date Deposited: 28 May 2008 14:02

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