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Chen Yuhui and Chen Guofu

Chen Yuhui and Chen Guofu

Envisioning Democracy in The Personals

(p.174) Chapter 7 Chen Yuhui and Chen Guofu
Adapted for the Screen
Hsiu-Chuang Deppman
University of Hawai'i Press

This chapter analyzes Chen Guofu’s popular adaptation of Chen Yuhui’s autobiographical novel The Personals (1992) into a film with the same title (1998). The story allegorizes a woman’s failed pursuit of love and marriage to illustrate Taiwan’s negotiations with its miscegenated postmodern identity as China’s “renegade province,” Japan’s postcolonial partner, and America’s Asian-Pacific protégé. These multiple identities reflect the island state’s ongoing “de-China-fication,” a gradual and almost self-castigating process that began after the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) was legalized in 1987 and accelerated when the DDP’s Chen Shuibian was elected president in 2000. The story invites the reader/viewer to scrutinize the democratic cultural diversity of Taipei in the 1990s, but the two versions use very different techniques to do so. Chen Yuhui’s narrative combines fiction with a sociological investigation of human psychology and an anthropological field study, while Chen Guofu’s film blends the traditions of narrative cinema with quasi-documentary reportage.

Keywords:   autobiographical novel, The Personals, Chen Guofu, Chen Yuhui, Taiwan, postmodern identity, multiple identities, cultural diversity

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