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Two Texts to a Story:
White Terror in Taiwan

by Sylvia Li-chun Lin

Modern Chinese Literature and Culture, vol. 16, no. 1 (Spring 2004), pp. 36-64


This article, examining two modes of representing White Terror in Taiwan, focuses on a short story, “Song of the Covered Wagon,” by Lan Bozhou, and a movie, Good Men Good Women, by Hou Hsiao-hsien. Both texts deal with the lives of Jiang Biyu and Zhong Haodong and raise important issues in representing atrocity: artificiality versus authenticity in rendering the past, portrayal of victims, and tenuous connections to the past under a totalitarian rule. Lan adopts the format of eyewitness account to relate the story, in an attempt to return the voice to the individual, but the narrative structure nonetheless privileges national, public events over personal lives. Hou Hsiao-hsien, employing the strategy of a film-within-a-film, tackles the Taiwanese people's fear and reluctance to deal with their past, while simultaneously complicating the issue of the knowablility of history.