Shanghai baby: Imagining the passionate city

Hudson, C 2004, 'Shanghai baby: Imagining the passionate city', in The Passionate City: An International Symposium, RMIT, Melbourne, 27 August 2004, pp. 78-88.


Document type: Conference Paper
Collection: Conference Papers

Title Shanghai baby: Imagining the passionate city
Author(s) Hudson, C
Year 2004
Conference name The Passionate City: An International Symposium
Conference location RMIT, Melbourne
Conference dates 27 August 2004
Proceedings title The Passionate City: An International Symposium
Publisher RMIT Publishing
Place of publication Melbourne, Australia
Start page 78
End page 88
Total pages 11
Abstract Wei Hui's novel Shanghai Baby appeared on the Chinese literary scene in 1999. It has been called a "sex and drugs novel" and condemned because it "speaks with the skin". The narrator, Coco, is engaged in an erotic, drug-fuelled search-for-self in a city, which J. G. Ballard described as "lurid and electric" and "more exciting than any city in the world". Coco's spatial practices, in which reason is relinquished to the sensual, suggest Wilson's description of the city as both "masculine" in its triumphal scale, and feminine in its enclosing embrace, its indeterminacy and its labyrinthine uncentredness. (1991). Coco's Shanghai is not the phallocentric, rationalized space of the Pudong district skyscraper, but the sites of abandon, the nightclubs, gay bars and parties, the sexualized sites of sensual anarchy. "Physical pleasure robbed me of all my intelligence", says Coco. This paper examines Wei Hui's use of the spatial relations of modernity and their interaction with modes of sexuality to create an eroticised urban "underground" in which the city itself is the central character, imagined as both passionate and feminine.
Subjects Asian Cultural Studies
Keyword(s) passionate city
Shanghai
sexuality
Copyright notice ©2004 RMIT University, School of Applied Science
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