Eileen Chang

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Between memory and reality there are awkward discrepancies.

Eileen Chang (September 30, 1920September 8, 1995) was one of the most influential modern Chinese writers.


Liuyan [《流言》] (1968)[edit]

Page numbers refer to Written on Water, trans. Andrew F. Jones (New York: Columbia University Press, 2005)
  • In this era, the old things are being swept away and the new things are still being born. But until this historical era reaches its culmination, all certainty will remain an exception. People sense that everything about their everyday lives is a little out of order, out of order to a terrifying degree. All of us must live within a certain historical era, but this era sinks away from us like a shadow, and we feel we have been abandoned. In order to confirm our own existence, we need to take hold of something real, of something most fundamental, and to that end we seek the help of an ancient memory, the memory of a humanity that has lived through every era, a memory clearer and closer to our hearts than anything we might see gazing far into the future. And this gives rise to a strange apprehension about the reality surrounding us. We begin to suspect that this is an absurd and antiquated world, dark and bright at the same time. Between memory and reality there are awkward discrepancies, producing a solemn but subtle agitation, an intense but as yet indefinable struggle.
    • 2. "Writing of One's Own" (pp. 17–18)
  • When you meet the one among the millions, when amid millions of years, across the borderless wastes of time, you happen to catch him or her, neither a step too early nor a step too late, what else is there to do except to ask softly: "So you're here, too?"
    • 10. "Love" (p. 79)

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