SOAS University of London

Centre of Taiwan Studies

Horace Ho’s The Tree Fort on Carnation Lane as a Nativist National Allegory-Bildungsroman

Darryl Sterk
Speaker: Darryl Sterk

Date: 8 March 2017Time: 7:00 PM

Finishes: 8 March 2017Time: 9:00 PM

Venue: Russell Square: College Buildings Room: 116

Type of Event: Talk


According to Fredric Jameson in his notorious article on “third world literature,” every individual bildungsroman from what seems like the developing world is actually a nativist national allegory about nation formation. While critical of Jameson’s Marxist assumptions about national development, I think Jameson’s thesis is useful to a discussion of Horace Ho’s The Tree Fort on Carnation Lane (to be published by Ballestier Press in the spring of 2017). Ho’s novel is a retrospective coming of age story about a boy born in the 1970s in a nightmarket neighborhood near a temple, clearly modeled on the Báng-kah district in Taipei. The father of one of his two best friends is involved in the publication of an illegal pamphlet and demonstration at the temple, obviously based on Dangwai activities at the Longshan Temple. But the novel ventures explicitly into political allegory when the narrator and his two pals decide to rescue a performing orangutan. As the translator of the novel I will also discuss some of the ways in which I tried to bring the story, and the old neighborhood of Báng-kah in the 1970s and 1980s, to life.

Speaker's Bio

Darryl Sterk is a translation teacher, literary translator and scholar of indigenous representation in film and fiction in Taiwan. He teaches in the Graduate Program in Translation and Interpretation at National Taiwan University. He specializes in the translation of Taiwanese fiction, including Wu Ming-yi, Shih Chiung-yu, Horace Ho and many other writers. As a scholar, he started off studying representations of indigenous people by Chinese writers and directors, but has now shifted to the study of indigenous writers and directors and to indigenous languages: his latest research project is about the translation of the screenplay for Seediq Bale into the Tgdaya and Toda ‘dialects’ of Seediq.

Organiser: Centre of Taiwan Studies

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