City in the rain : writers, editors, and publishers in Hong Kong during Japanese occupation

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Date

2019-05-08

Authors

Chow, Ki

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Abstract

Rainscape of the City (Shancheng yujing) is the only still-extent book publication in Hong Kong during Japanese occupation (1941 – 1945). Written by a pro-Japanese writer Lu Mengshu, it is generally seen as a propagandistic work. Few scholarly studies have looked at its publication history and political ambiguities. The publisher, Overseas Chinese Daily News (Huaqiao ribao), went to great lengths to make this book project possible. Not only did it overcome the technical challenges, but it also resisted political intervention from the all-powerful propaganda organ. Meanwhile, the content of the book drastically differs from the rosy pictures promulgated by the government mouthpieces. Some stories demonstrate a nostalgia for Western culture, while others contain revolutionary overtones. What were the publisher’s motives to invest in this seemingly unprofitable project? What are the textual peculiarities that deviate from conventional propaganda? How did pro-government writers like Lu Mengshu, and others like Ye Lingfeng and Chen Junbao, channel their wartime experience through rain imagery and symbolism? These are some questions that I seek to answer in this study. In this research, I will look at (a) Overseas Chinese’s commercial background which made the publication possible, (b) Rainscape’s dual allegiance; and (c) the depiction of rain by three “traitor literati.” Ultimately, I hope to complement to the growing scholarship on wartime literature in Hong Kong by teasing out certain nuances in the simplistic dichotomy of “resistance vs. compliance,” and examine writers, editors, and publishers whose collective experiences vividly and dynamically portray a “City in the Rain.”

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