How can we account for the phenomenon that a “superstitious” premodern folktale continues to remain popular even after the enlightenment discourse emerges to dominate the modern era? What does it mean socially, culturally, and politically that this premodern folktale not only remains alive but takes on new forms and significance as it travels into the new historical conditions of modernity? Liang Luo’s The Global White Snake is an admirable intellectual endeavor to unpack these questions. The tale she focuses on is the White Snake Legend, an ancient Chinese folklore whose origin can be traced back to Li Huang’s tale in the ninth century. Over the centuries, as the narratives evolve and the characters develop, the Legend of the White Snake has grown into a staple of China’s repertoire of romantic stories. This legend capitalizes on the entangled relationships among the White and Green Snakes, two love-seeking snake women, the duped...
The Global White Snake
JEN-HAO WALTER HSU is an associate professor of Theater Arts at National Sun Yat-Sen University in Kaohsiung, Taiwan. He holds a PhD in theater arts from Cornell University and completed postdoctoral research on theatrical reformations in contemporary Shanghai since the 1980s at Shanghai Theatre Academy. In addition to publishing academic writings on Chinese queer sexualities, Taiwanese film, and contemporary theaters in China and Taiwan, he is also an active theater critic in Taiwan and in mainland China.
Jen-Hao Walter Hsu; The Global White Snake. Comparative Literature Studies 11 August 2023; 60 (3): 617–620. doi: https://doi.org/10.5325/complitstudies.60.3.0617
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