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Narrative in Mao Dun's Eclipse Trilogy: A Conflicted Mao Dun


This dissertation is an exploration of the narrative mode of Mao Dun's (1896 - 1981) first work of fiction, the 1927-8 Eclipse trilogy. It focuses on explaining the context and nature of realism as it appears in the work. The dissertation includes a biography of Mao Dun that covers his early education, and his years as an editor and as a translator. The biography also shows the influence of western literary theory and ideology on his development as an intellectual and author. Realism as a literary mode is presented in its general form and as a type of realism that developed in China. The dissertation also analyzes realism and naturalism as Mao Dun explains the ideas in his own literary criticism. A close reading of samples from the Eclipse trilogy shows how Mao Dun used a type of realism with a shifting objective view, similar to a free indirect style. Finally the dissertation provides a textology study: a typology and analysis of the differences between the two major editions of the trilogy. The types include Clarity and Accuracy, Political Concerns, Narrative Voice, Simplification of Characters, and Problematic Sensuality. Through analysis of the differences between the two editions, the dissertation provides evidence that, although Mao Dun was willing to sacrifice some of the complexity and contradictions of his novel in 1954 when the second edition was edited, he strove to maintain the core of his most problematic central characters and the fundamental ideals of his narrative voice.

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