Wreckage, War, Woman. Fragments of a Female Self in Zhang Ailing’s Love In a Fallen City (倾城之恋)
This article examines wreckage and war as key elements in Zhang Ailing’s novella Qing cheng zhi lian 倾城之恋 (Love in a Fallen City) exploring the strategies used by the female protagonist to engage on a nüxing 女性 ‘feminist’-oriented spatial quest for independence in a male-centered world. Analysed from a feminist perspective, these strategies emerge as potentially empowering and based on the idea of conflict/conquest while dealing with man and romance, but they are also constantly threatened by the instability of history and by the lack of any true agency and gender-specific space for women in the 1940s Chinese society and culture. By analysing the floating/stability dichotomy and the spatial configurations of Shanghai and Hong Kong as described in the novella, the author argues Zhang Ailing’s depiction of Chinese women while dealing with history, society and the quest for self-affirmation is left in-between wreckage and survival, oppression and feminism, revealing her eccentric otherness as a woman and as a writer with respect to socially committed literature.