This book was written at a time when Chinese intellectuals had gone through
a century-long quest for, and struggle to come to terms with, modernity. As
the twentieth century ends, we have only begun to examine expressions of
male desire in literature and culture in conjunction with that quest and strug-
gle. My study is an exploration of that conjunction.
This is also a time when China is experiencing rapid changes in economic
reforms and marketization. Although these changes and their impact have
yet to completely unfold and be fully understood, economic growth has un-
doubtedly already changed the landscape of China and the lives of many
Chinese (for better or for worse). Modernization appears to have finally ar-
rived in China; its glamour is no longer on the other side of the ocean.
the face of these contexts, I want to leave with the following questions:
Where and how do the male writer/critic intellectuals figure in all of these
changes? How are these changes impacting them as individuals, men, and
intellectuals? If their quest for modernity and desire for recognition have
always been entangled with the image and the geopolitical standing of China
in the international arena, now that China is believed to be well on its way to
modernization and a position with increasing international power, where do
these intellectuals stand in relation to all of this? And finally, does xiandaihua
("modernization") mean that Chinese masculinity has finally reached the
point where it can be liberated from its besieged status?