HARVARD EAST ASIAN MONOGRAPHS
Cover: The Heart of Time in HARDCOVER

Harvard East Asian Monographs 274

The Heart of Time

Moral Agency in Twentieth-Century Chinese Fiction

Add to Cart

Product Details

HARDCOVER

$44.95 • £35.95 • €40.50

ISBN 9780674022676

Publication Date: 10/31/2006

Short

306 pages

6-1/8 x 9-1/4 inches

Harvard University Asia Center > Harvard East Asian Monographs

World, subsidiary rights restricted

By examining how narrative strategies reinforce or contest deterministic paradigms, this work describes modern Chinese fiction’s unique contribution to ethical and literary debates over the possibility for meaningful moral action. How does Chinese fiction express the desire for freedom as well as fears of attendant responsibilities and abuses? How does it depict struggles for and against freedom? How do the texts allow for or deny the possibility of freedom and agency? By analyzing discourses of agency and fatalism and the ethical import of narrative structures, the author explores how representations of determinism and moral responsibility changed over the twentieth century. She links these changes to representations of time and to enduring commitments to human-heartedness and social justice.

Although Chinese fiction may contain some of the most disconsolate pages in the twentieth century’s long literature of disenchantment, it also bespeaks, Knight argues, a passion for freedom and moral responsibility. Responding to ongoing conflicts between the claims of modernity and the resources of past traditions, these stories and novels are often dominated by challenges to human agency. Yet read with sensitivity to traditional Chinese conceptions of moral experience, their testimony to both the promises of freedom and the failure of such promises opens new perspectives on moral agency.

Recent News

Black lives matter. Black voices matter. A statement from HUP »

From Our Blog

Photograph of Lessons from Plants, by Beronda L. Montgomery, from Harvard University Press, placed on sunny table next to leafy green potted plant and desk organizer

What Have We Learned from Plants?

For Beronda L. Montgomery, the author of Lessons from Plants, the undisturbed growth of plants has been a reminder that life moves along, even in the most difficult times. In her new book, Montgomery shows how plant behavior and adaptation can offer valuable insights for human thriving. Her recent article in Elle on how plants have been a beacon of hope for her and many others during the pandemic inspired us at Harvard University Press to think about how plants have also helped us during this past year of working from home