Abstract：The rewriting of classics is a practice in which theoretical analysis interacts with the retelling
of old stories. Such interaction provides a new angle for interpreting contemporary literature of China.
The rewritings of classics which were mostly limited within speculative remarks in the 1980s and the
1990s did not reveal its butterfly effect in the realm of literary works. Based on this, it is significant to
compare three rewriting texts, namely Li Feng’s Chexiang Gorge, Kou Hui’s A Child’s Soul in the
Depth of Night, and Ge Fei’s The Cock Crows at Midnight, with their “pre-texts”, namely Yao Xueyin’sLi Zicheng, Liu Qing’s History of Entrepreneurship and Gao Yubao’s The Cock Crows at Midnight.
Chexiang Gorge published by Li Feng in Harvest is claimed to be a “subversive” writing of a peasant hero Li Zicheng who was previously represented in the first volume of Yao Xueyin’s Li
Zicheng. The so-called “subversion” writing means to “dismantle” the original narrative of class and
motive power, and replace it with an expression of extreme self and extreme humanity that despises the
“living life”. Distinguished from Yao Xueyin’s idealistic and essentialized narrative of history, Li Feng
absorbed visions of history from the “new historicism” and “dehumanization”. By “subverting” in his
“avant-garde writing” of peasant heroes constructed by Yao Xueyin, he regarded human desires and
selfishness as the whole of human beings and history, which results in the lack of richness and depth of
the characters in his work.
Kou Hui’s A Child’s Soul in the Depth of Night is a short story rewritten from Liu Qing’s History
of Entrepreneurship. As far as its deep connotation is concerned, it can be called a “continuous”
rewriting of “adherence to tradition”. Following Liu Qing’s artistic logic and according to the
demanding of subject, the novel focuses on the family, rewriting the ideological, psychological and
emotional content that was hidden by the politicized perspective and the role of the characters in
continuity. The “continuation” here refers to the “extension” of the rewritten object and creative
tradition on the one hand, and the “persistence” on the other. The author not only discovered the
“traditional latent structure” that was neglected in the 1949-1966 Chinese literature, but also provided
an important consideration for how to carry out creative transformation and innovative development
By absorbing and transforming a great number of folk resources, Gao Yubao creates his novel The
Cock Crows at Midnight which is based on the historical figure Zhou Chunfu, whereas Ge Fei’s
rewriting of this story presents a parody which returns to the folk. By re-organizing folk elements,
especially imitation and comicality which co-work as the core forms of folk art, he overturns the rigid
class-narrative of the story. With a stance on the folk, Ge Fei’s rewriting not only makes a resonance in
style with its pre-text, but also deconstructs the gap between the two texts, achieving the aesthetic
effects of irony and humor and the narrative direction manifested in anti-form and anti-essence.
The rewriting of classics seems to be a “breaking” behavior, yet it reflects the richness of creative
resources and the plasticity of inner quality. The original work and the rewritten text form an
interlocking and non-repetitive “art chain”, namely a “circular interpretation” or “eternal historicalization”
in Fredric Jameson’s sense. Of course, the rewriting of classics undoubtedly cannot be simplified or
polarized. It is necessary to have a correct historical outlook and dialectical thinking on how to rewrite
and what principles should be followed.
吴秀明、陈璧君. 当代文学经典应该如何“重写”——以《车厢峡》《黑夜孩魂》《半夜鸡叫》为例[J]. 浙江大学学报(人文社会科学版), 0, (): 1-.
Wu Xiuming Chen Bijun. How to Rewrite Contemporary Literary Classics: a Case Study of Chexiang
Gorge, A Child’s Soul in the Depth of Night, and The Cock Crows at Midnight. JOURNAL OF ZHEJIANG UNIVERSITY, 0, (): 1-.