About the author: Ban Wang is associate professor in Asian Studies and Comparative Literature at Rutgers University. He received his PhD from UCLA. Author of The Sublime Figure of History: Aesthetics and Politics in Twentieth-Century China (Stanford, UP, 1997) and co-translator of Walter Benjamin’s Illuminations, he has also published numerous articles in scholarly journals.2002 0-7734-7218-5
This study reconsiders irony by blending classical and contemporary critical notions. It revamps the notions of authorial perspective, plot, emotional effect, and other generic features of fiction by incorporating socio-historical analysis of practice, ideology, and discourse. In discussing Chinese texts, it shows how narrative structure breaks down and authoritative dogma and myth fall apart under a critical irony, shifting narrative stances, and multi-voiced language. The second part deals with works by Austen, James, Flaubert, Dickens, and Woolf, illustrating how a variable narrative perspective affects plot structure, and how cherished moral assumptions are questioned and debunked. It will help teachers and students analyze multi-cultural texts from East and West with aesthetic sensitivity, and provide new readings of classic texts.