This talk begins with an overview of the interconnection between literature and philosophy in modern Chinese literature. Then, it probes into the three existentialist allegories in Fortress Besieged (1947), a philosophical novel written by Qian Zhongshu, a polyglot scholar of East-East comparative literature and philosophy. The novel’s overarching allegory, i.e., a fortress besieged, will be compared in juxtaposition with several philosophical allegories about the mutability and limitations of human life in Western philosophy. This talk concludes with a reflection on the seminal influence of this novel in contemporary Chinese society where “fortress besieged” has become an everyday word referring to one’s existential crisis.
Dr. Heidi Huang obtained her PhD and MA in Transcultural Studies from University of Lyon and pursued her postdoctoral studies in comparative literature and world literature at the City University of Hong Kong. She used to work as associate professor in comparative literature and translation at The School of International Studies, Sun Yat-sen University. She is currently Research and Development Manager at The Advanced Institute for Global Chinese Studies at Lingnan University, while also serving the role as managing editor of Prism: Theory and Modern Chinese.