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Title: Inventing reality: Obstinate Orientalism in Victor Segalen’s René Leys
Author: Prado-Fonts, Carles  
Others: Universitat Oberta de Catalunya. Estudis d'Arts i Humanitats
Keywords: orientalism
world literature
Victor Segalen
René Leys
Issue Date: 23-Feb-2023
Publisher: Taylor & Francis Group
Citation: Prado-Fonts, C. [Carles] (2023). Inventing reality: Obstinate orientalism in Victor Segalen's René Leys. Journal of Postcolonial Writing, 59(2), 186-199. doi: 10.1080/17449855.2022.2163419
Published in: Journal of Postcolonial Writing;59
Project identifier: info:eu-repo/grantAgreement/AEI/PID2019–108637GB–I00
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Abstract: This article explores how Victor Segalen’s novel René Leys ([1921] 1922) problematizes the ways in which the west has imagined China and how this novel reflects obstinate Orientalism – a stubborn insistence on exoticist fantasies despite their being repeatedly denied by reality. The article argues that, through a portrayal of this obstinacy, René Leys offers a sound critique of the colonial encounter that goes beyond Segalen’s impressionistic reflections included in Essai sur l’exotisme (Essay on Exoticism [1955] 1978), typically considered his main contribution to postcolonial theory. The article also shows that the novel’s lucid and critical exposure of the creation of the Orientalist object has remained unnoticed by previous interpretations due to the novel’s ironic structure, which eclipses its own criticism and makes it more difficult to be perceived by western readers. This article offers insight into the literary mechanisms that obscure the hierarchical values underlying frames for cross-cultural interactions such as cosmopolitanism and World Literature.
Language: English
ISSN: 1744-9855MIAR
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