Fiction

The Dreamers

It did not seem right to the detective Z. Zhuang that he should be dying in such a clean and sterile room on such a bright January day. He had lived his life in the malarial heat of the narrow Hong Kong streets among the human fauna. He yearned for the smell and the feel of it all again: the resinous, mossy head notes, that solid wave of damp air that crashed into you when you stepped outside; the ardent, polluted heart notes, black particles of exhaust spiraling into the atmosphere endlessly from engines; and the final, swarming, oppressive base notes, of congestion and people and industry.

The closest he had been to death before, that time when he had utterly been convinced that every blood-stained breath he was drawing would be his last, had been thirty-five years ago, when he had deciphered the designs of a triad lieutenant, unveiled treachery, and in the end, been shot in the heart as all the interminable mechanisms clicked into place, hammer drawn back then sprung forward, and a .38 revolver fired. That would have been a good death—this, not so much.

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Essays

Maoism and China: How Mao Zedong Thought United and Divided a Nation

When the People’s Republic of China was founded, Mao Zedong was faced with a nation divided on every level, having been ravaged by a century of external foreign invasion and internal civil wars. Like Qin Shi Huang, the First Emperor, Mao Zedong had the difficult task of consolidating and unifying China ahead of him. Maoism should be seen in the context of this unifying task: Mao Zedong Thought was the political and ideological fruit of Mao’s efforts towards a unified nation.

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Essays

Text and Topography: The Agency of Yseut and the Queen in Nature

Béroul’s The Romance of Tristran and Marie de France’s Chevrefueil both use the natural world to explore the complex relationship and power dynamics between the respective two lovers. However, their approach in text and topography is very different, heavily influenced by their respective genre and structure. Romance is a more “primitive” fabliau, expansive and external, while Chevrefueil is a more “courtly” Breton lai, focused and internal. The scope of the topography matches the scope of the text: thus, the natural world for Romance is likewise large, with multiple characters and actions that are explicit and literal, while the natural world in Chevrefueil is small, with only Tristan and the queen and actions that are implicit and symbolic. Nature can primarily be seen as a male space, created and sustained by the male characters, but this does not mean the power dynamic is tipped towards Tristran or Tristan. The text and topography in both stories are nuanced in their exploration of the two lover’s relationship, and there is a subtle undercurrent of female agency that reveals the relationship to be more symbiotic and reciprocal than initially evident. Romance and Chevrefueil are a sort of human geography: text, topography, and the two lovers are mapped, and their mutuality and equality elucidated. For convenience’s sake throughout this essay, Tristran and Yseut will be used to describe the two lovers in Béroul’s Romance while Tristan and the queen will be used for Marie’s Chevrefueil.

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