Carlos Rojas presents a sweeping survey of the historical and political significance of one of the world’s most recognizable monuments. Although the splendor of the Great Wall has become virtually synonymous with its vast size, the structure’s conceptual coherence is actually grounded on the tenuous and ephemeral stories we tell about it. These stories give life to the Wall and help secure its hold on our collective imagination, while at the same time permitting it to constantly reinvent itself in accordance with the needs of each new era.
Through an examination of allusions to the Wall in an eclectic array of texts—ranging from official dynastic histories, elite poetry, and popular folktales, to contemporary tourist testimonials, children’s songs, and avant-garde performance art—this study maps out a provocative new framework for understanding the structure’s function and significance.
This volume approaches the Wall through the stories we tell and contends that it is precisely in this cultural history that we may find the Wall’s true meaning, together with the secret of its greatness.