The Dynamics of Appellations in《陆犯焉识》 (Prisoner Lu Yanshi)

  • Zhu Weihong School of Foreign Languages, Central China Normal University, 152 Luoyu Road, Wuhan 430079, Hubei Province, P.R. CHINA
Keywords: narrative progression, dynamics, appellations, Sphinx factor, Prisoner Lu Yanshi


This study is an attempt at combining James Phelan’s rhetorical approach to narrative, particularly his theory of narrative progression, and Nie Zhenzhao’s theory of the Sphinx factor. It takes as its subject of study the appellations of the protagonist in 《陆犯焉识》(Prisoner Lu Yanshi, 2011) by Yan Geling, a major overseas Chinese female writer. It delineates how the narrative progression of the novel is governed by the dynamics of Lu Yanshi’s varied appellations which are bound with varied ethical identities and ethical duties. It argues that the varied appellations serve as the instabilities of the narrative. At the story level, the protagonist transforms from a proud saint to a humble human being, as a result of the discovery of his animal factor which comes to the surface under extreme circumstances. At the level of discourse, circuitous narration and double focalizations create tensions between the protagonist’s understanding of and readers’ responses to the ethical implications of the appellations, thus helping the readers to see the ethical message conveyed by the novel – a complete human consists of both the human factor and the animal factor; he is defective when solely controlled by either of them.


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