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Eileen Chang’s “Sealed Off” and the Possibility of Modernist Romance

Eric Sandberg


This article proposes a re-interpretation of Eileen Chang’s short story “Sealed Off” as a quintessentially modernist romance. Other critics have seen the story’s central event–a brief encounter between a man and a woman during a wartime traffic closure in Japanese occupied Shanghai–as an dystopian aberration or an instance of a failed, artificial romance. I argue that by reading the story in the broader contexts of Chang’s writing and of modernist writing more generally, we can see it instead as a mediation on the potentialities of love in the modern age, and on the ways in which such love can be represented in modernist writing.


Eileen Chang; modernism; romance

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The Johns Hopkins University Press

ISSN: 1920-1222

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