Imaging Native Landscape: Leftist Poetry, New Drama, and Photographic Vision in Taiwanese Literature during the 1930s-1940s
2: The Image of Taiwan in Left-Wing Poems in 1930s Taiwan
Friday, March 25, 2022
3:30pm – 5:00pm EST
Virtual Paper Presenter(s)
National Chengchi University, Taiwan (Republic of China)
This paper explores how left-wing poems in newspapers and periodicals founded by Taiwanese people after the mid-1930s demonstrated Taiwanese ideology independent of China or Japan through the image construction of Taiwan.
Before the early 1930s, most left-wing poems published in Taiwan were transplanted from Japan or China. These poems cared much more about class than the nation, and they did not closely reflect the conditions of colonial society. However, in the mid-1930s, after the mass arrests of Taiwanese communists by Japanese colonial police, and after the local literary movement, left-wing poems paid more attention to local issues and began to portray the social reality of colonial Taiwan, despite these poems no longer being able to advocate for class struggles with fanfare. More importantly, these poems seemed to have attempted to create an image of Taiwan that is different from that in official textbooks and also different from the exotic Taiwan portrayed by the Japanese poet Nishikawa Mitsuru in the same period.
These left-wing poems portraying Taiwan show two tendencies: one is the construction of an island with a unique geography, history, and ethnicity, and the way these constructions were made maintained a distance from the Japanese empire’s discourse in official textbooks; the other is the satirizing of the illusion of the ideal island constructed by the empire with the corrupt and unpopular reality. Through these poems, we can observe the birth of Taiwanese poetics after the mid-1930s, but the tendency disappeared after the outbreak of the Sino-Japanese War in 1937.