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  • Escape and The Man Who Questions Death

Escape and The Man Who Questions Death

Gao Xingjian

English , 2007/01 The Chinese University of Hong Kong Press

Tags: Literature

229 x 152 mm , 144pp ISBN / ISSN : 978-962-996-308-8

  • US$24.00

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This collection contains two plays by Gao Xingjian, winner of the Nobel Prize for Literature 2000. Escape was written in 1989 in the wake of the June 4 Student Movement in Tiananmen Square in Beijing. With the publication of the play, Gao was expelled from the Chinese Communist Party, dismissed from his state appointment and had his house in Beijing confiscated. Perhaps because of this controversy, Escape has become the most performed of all of Gao's plays: it has been staged in Sweden, Germany, Belgium, France, Poland, Japan, Ivory Coast, Tunisia, and Canada. Wherever it was staged, it was given a locally relevant interpretation and was well received, which lends credence to Gao’s claim of the universality of the play he describes as the tragedy of modern man.

The Man Who Questions Death is the latest of Gao's plays. It is also one of the most exciting and powerful. Here Gao condemns the commercialization of modern art and ponders on life and the inevitability of death. At once sad and comical, the play traverses anger, cynicism, resignation, release, and total freedom, culminating in what he terms “black absurdity.”

No other two plays illustrate more of Gao Xingjian's ideas on life and art. In Escape and The Man Who Questions Death, he describes the encroachment of politics and commercialism on the individual and the arts, and uses this as the basis to comment on the existential challenges facing mankind. The plays are also perfect examples of Gao Xingjian's accomplishment as a dramatist and his idea of the theater. In them we can experience for ourselves the now familiar Gaoian monologue and get to understand his concept of the neutral actor.

This collection is a must read for anyone who wants to appreciate Gao Xingjian as dramatist and thinker.

GAO Xingjian is the winner of the 2000 Nobel Prize in Literature, the first Chinese to receive the award. Best-known for his novels and plays, he is a multitalented artist who also excels as stage director, painter, poet, photographer and literary theorist. In 2007, he completed his movie Silhouette/Shadow, in which he was the writer, director and actor. Born in Jiangxi, China, he has settled in Paris, France since 1987.

Gilbert C. F. Fong graduated from The Chinese University of Hong Kong and received his M.A. and Ph.D. from the University of Toronto. Afterward, he taught Chinese language and literature at the University of Toronto and York University in Canada. He has written many articles on modern and contemporary Chinese literature and literary translation. Presently he is professor and chairman of the Department of Translation at The Chinese University of Hong Kong and is heading several research projects, including the history of Hong Kong drama, movie and television subtitling, Gao Xingjian, and translated drama. An acclaimed translator, he translated many plays by Gao Xingjian, winner of the 2000 Nobel Prize for Literature, into English; they are published in The Other ShoreSnow in August, and Cold Literature: Selected Works by Gao Xingjian (with Mabel Lee). He also translated into Chinese Samuel Beckett's Waiting for Godot, Jean Genet's Haute Surveillance, Dale Wasserman's Man of La Mancha, and Antonio Skármeta's Burning Patience, and Arthur Miller's Death of a Salesman. He was editor of several books, including Studies on Hong Kong DramaPlays from Hong Kong, and he is currently editor of two academic journals, Hong Kong Drama Review and Journal of Translation Studies.

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