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Author Study: Lisa See Curated by Emilie Zhang '20

This is a Libguide dedicated to Chinese-American author Lisa See, her works, and the intricate aspects of Chinese culture within them.

LISA SEE'S STYLE


Having read several of See's books, I feel that they all have three core stylistic components in common:

1. They all attempt to emulate Chinese

2. They are all written in the first person perspective

3. They are all split into sections

 

The following analysis is under the umbrella of the aforementioned components. 
 

DICTION: 

OVERALL: Terms that are specific to the time period of which See writes
USAGE: To establish setting and create a Chinese aura 

 

EXAMPLES:

 

Shanghai Girls: International Settlement, French Concession, rickshaw boy, Angel Island, FOB (fresh-off-the-boat)

Dreams of Joy: "Red Guards" (红卫兵), "Comrade" (同志)

Snow Flower and the Secret Fan: "Flower-sitting chair" (花轿), "Old-sames" (老同), "Three-inch Golden Lilies" (三寸金莲)

 

Scene from the movie Snow Flower and the Secret Fan

IMAGERY:

OVERALL: Selectively describes items/people/events of cultural relevance
USAGE: To explain traditions for the audience and bring setting alive

 

EXAMPLE:

Tea Girl of Hummingbird Lane: Uses clothing to characterize different people.

The main character, Li-Yan, grows up wearing traditional Akha clothing but gives it up for modern wear when she enters the city.

 

DETAIL:

OVERALL: Selectively describes items/people/events of cultural relevance
USAGE: To explain traditions for the audience and bring setting alive

 

EXAMPLE:

Snow Flower and the Secret Fan: the processes of foot binding are explained in extensive (and sometimes gruesome) detail.

So the common audience can understand what is going on

 

LANGUAGE:

OVERALL: Long flowing sentences loaded with cultural references USAGE: To write Chinese in English



EXAMPLES: 

See's novels. In every book the rhythm of Chinese is being sought after, and everything works together to bring about the feeling of China


 
SYNTAX:

OVERALL: Long flowing sentences loaded with cultural references USAGE: To write Chinese in English



EXAMPLES:


Shanghai Girls: Extensive use of commas to describe setting