Staying alive : a contemporary rejuvenation of the Biji

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In 1998 John Minford and Tong Man attempted to transpose to contemporary English an excerpt from the Qing era biji Liao-chai chih-yi [Strange Stories From A Chinese Studio], by Pu Songling. In the wake of this attempt Douglas Coupland, Ouyang Yu, and Owen Kelly have all published contemporary English language biji. This thesis will analyse, and contextualise, the most recent development in this centuries-old form. Following analysis of the four contemporary biji above I will propose a selection of texts that could be included within this budding corpus. The creative component of this thesis, titled ‘Arrayed Miscellaneous Notes On Fear & Loneliness’, offers another potential example of contemporary English language biji. Reflecting the influence of the Paris-based writing group Oulipo on the methodology used during the theoretical research, ‘Arrayed Miscellaneous Notes On Fear & Loneliness’ explores the potential for the biji as a textual site conducive to constraint and experimentation.
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