Date of Award

Spring 1-1-2012

Document Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)

Department

Asian Languages & Civilizations

First Advisor

G. Andrew Stuckey

Second Advisor

Terry Kleeman

Third Advisor

Antje Richter

Abstract

Wang Anyi (1954 - ), one of the most prominent Shanghai-based female Chinese authors. The hallmark of her literary career is her award winning Chenghen ge, 1995. Changhen ge became available to the English reading world in 2008 when Michael Berry and Susan Chan Egan released their translation under the title The Song of Everlasting Sorrow: A Novel of Shanghai. The translation was well received considering Changhen ge has previously drawn the attention of western scholars such as David Der-wei Wang, Ban Wang, and Andrew Stuckey who have provided thorough analyses of a variety of themes in this novel including nostalgia, consumerism, and postmodern melancholy. However, previous analyses of Changhen ge have yet to examine portions of this text used by Wang that also have Buddhist meanings. This thesis analyzes discernibly Buddhist influences in Wang's Changhen ge that until now have not been brought to light. The thesis begins with an introduction to Wang's life and literary works, followed by a summary of Wang's Changhen ge. Next I offer an intertextural analysis of Bo Juyi's poem of the same title "Changhen ge" and examine the poem in the context of Wang's novel. Attention is given to the sentimental aura of the two literary pieces and the essence of Buddhist influence in both texts. Next, I closely examine the sites of Buddhist influence in Wang's text, specifically analyzing a variety of terms used by Wang that have varying forms of Buddhist intonations, such as kuhai (bitter sea), yinguo (cause and effect), yinyuan (Hetu-prayaya) and jie (Kalpa). I also unravel the metaphor of Shanghai as a "bitter sea," and the unique space of Wu Bridge (Wuqiao) with its ability to rescue lost souls from the "bitter sea." Bringing to light the Buddhist essence of these words enables readers to recognize new dimensions of the text and the relationships between the characters.

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