Place and the Representation of the Self: Milan Kundera’s Prague and Gu Hua’s Hibiscus Town

Research output: Chapter in book/report/conference proceedingChapterpeer-review


Narrated places usually originate from their authors’ geographical belonging and determine the situations of fictional characters. They symbolically integrate the transfigurations of emotion, memory and imagination of the authors from reality. This essay compares between Milan Kundera’s The Unbearable Lightness of Being (1984) and Gu Hua’s A Small Town Called Hibiscus (1981) with an aim to interrogate how spatial representation of Prague and Chenzhou (where the central government of China assigned Gu Hua to work as a peasant) delivers the authors’ perception of Leonid Brezhnev’s Soviet Union and Mao Zedong’s China. A narrative analysis of the nominal significance of Prague and the spectacle change of the fictive Hibiscus Town uncovers personal vicissitudes, and also reveals the authors’ fictional and conceptual reconstruction of the Prague Spring (1968) and the Cultural Revolution (1966–1976). This reconstruction holds historical and biographical referents to the past and irretrievable space shadowed by the grand history.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationSpaces of Longing and Belonging
Subtitle of host publicationTerritoriality, Ideology and Creative Identity in Literature and Film
EditorsBrigitte le Juez, Bill Richardson
Number of pages13
ISBN (Electronic)9789004402935
ISBN (Print)9789004402928
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jul 2019

Publication series

NameSpatial Practices
ISSN (Print)1871-689X


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