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The Edge of Knowing

Dreams, History, and Realism in Modern Chinese Literature

Realism and the rhetoric of dreams intersected in modern Chinese literature from the May Fourth Era in the early twentieth century through the period just following the end of the Cultural Revolution in 1976. The Edge of Knowing investigates this relationship, showing how writers' attention to dreams demonstrates the multiple influences of Western psychology, utopian desire for revolutionary change, and the enduring legacy of traditional Chinese philosophy. At the same time, modern Chinese writers used their work to represent social reality for the purpose of nation building. Recent political usage of dream rhetoric in the People's Republic of China attests to the continuing influence of dreams on the imagination of Chinese modernity.

By employing a number of critical perspectives, The Edge of Knowing will appeal to readers seeking to understand the complicated relationship between literary form and Chinese history and politics.

About the Author

Roy Bing Chan is assistant professor of Chinese literature at the University of Oregon.


"A fascinating study that makes significant contributions to how we understand the relationship between time, dreaming, and materiality in modern literature."—New Books in East Asian Studies

"Chan presents us with a reckoning of Chinese realism that should be of interest to scholars of mimesis, psychoanalysis, socialism, socialist realism, and affect well outside of Asian Studies. . . . . An enjoyable and compelling read."—Modern Chinese Literature and Culture

"Contributes significantly to the discourse of the dream, which . . . is becoming increasingly relevant in the context of permeation and saturation of the slogan of the Chinese Dream in China."—Chinese Literature: Essays, Articles, Reviews


"The Edge of Knowing is a pathbreaking study of a long-neglected aspect of modern Chinese literature."—Charles A. Laughlin, author of The Literature of Leisure and Chinese Modernity

"An innovative reading of literary works that explores the tension between dream narratives and realism."—Richard King, author of Milestones on a Golden Road: Writing for Chinese Socialism

University of Washington Press

9780295748115 : the-edge-of-knowing-chan
Paperback / softback
233 Pages
$32.00 USD
9780295998992 : the-edge-of-knowing-chan
233 Pages
$50.00 USD

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