Pure Ethnicity in Hybridisation: A Returnee’s Quest for Chineseness in <i>Love in a Fallen City.</i>
Keywords:diaspora, returnee, cultural identity, hybridization, pure ethnicity
Some critics find Fan Liuyuan, the male protagonist in Eileen Chang’s novella Love in a Fallen City (1943), to be a rake; what they fail to take into account, however, is the complexity of Fan Liuyuan’s identity as well as his predicaments, both before and after his return to China. By adopting the concept of diaspora, the present study explores how his desire for the absent authentic Chinese culture is developed, and how his failure to come to terms with the paradox of hybridization and pure ethnicity results in a process of fruitless attempts to construct his cultural identity in his homeland. Eileen Chang’s depiction of this futile pursuit indicates that pure “Chineseness” exists only in the diasporic imagination, rather than in any tangible object or place, not even in the Chinese homeland. Such a revelation negates the essentialization of pure Chineseness, and allows for more diverse articulations of diasporic ethnicity.