(Re-)Reading Shanghai’s Futures in Ruins: Through the Legend of an (Extra-)Ordinary Woman in The Song of Everlasting Sorrow: A Novel of Shanghai


  • Ian Ho-yin Fong Department of Cultural and Religious Studies, the Chinese University of Hong Kong, China




Longtang, Walter Benjamin, phantasmagoria, allegory, nostalgia, ordinariness


This essay is an allegorical reading of Shanghai futures through a fictive woman, Wang Qiyao, in Wang Anyi’s novel, The Song of Everlasting Sorrow: A Novel of Shanghai (1996). The novel is about her life in China from the 1940s to the 1980s. Using Benjamin’s critique of 19th century Paris in relation to Shanghai in the 1930s and 1940s (“the Paris of the Orient”) the essay examines questions of phantasmagoria, nostalgia, memory and awakening and relates these to the possible Shanghai futures to come.


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How to Cite

Ho-yin Fong, I. (2011) “(Re-)Reading Shanghai’s Futures in Ruins: Through the Legend of an (Extra-)Ordinary Woman in The Song of Everlasting Sorrow: A Novel of Shanghai”, Culture Unbound, 4(1), pp. 229–248. doi: 10.3384/cu.2000.1525.124248.



Theme: Shanghai Modern: The Future in Microcosm?