"River Town" Book Review by anvilman

"River Town"
A literary analysis and discussion of concepts of modernity in Peter Hessler's "River Town: Two Years on the Yangtze".
# 91516 | 3,138 words | 2 sources | MLA | 2007 | CA
Published on Jan 29, 2007 in English (Argument) , English (Analysis) , Literature (Canadian)

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This paper discusses polyvocality and literary journalism within Peter Hessler's "River Town:Two Years on the Yangtze ". The paper analyzes Hessler's discussion of modernity and development and the way he struggles throughout his work with these topics. It then analyzes his use of language and writing technique and the way he relates to other groups of people in his work.

From the Paper:

"The history of colonialism operates as a curse over the head of the Western writer; the stain of our civilization leaves the writer neutered and at a loss as to how to escape the repressive traditions and tropes of cultural representation. In the two millennia since Plato expounded on the existence of some thing called truth, the thing-in-itself, Western thinkers have been developing a theology worshipping a concept called civilization and opposing the alleged barbarism of the uncivilized. This hegemonic ideology envelops the modern and is inescapable, psychologically and geographically. While the hegemony of the West may be inescapable, its nature is, according to Martin Heidegger, "forever restructuring anew" (184). Modern philosophers are employed in developing theories of mutation grounded in Heidegger's assertion: if the West does shift, the best way to affect it is from within. David Spurr's Rhetoric of Empire: Colonial Discourse in Journalism, Travel Writing, and Imperial Administration theorizes four techniques of contaminating the discourse of the West from within.
Peter Hessler's River Town: Two Years on the Yangtze toys with the conventions of travel writing, at points re-enacting its traditions while at other points offering a radical departure from usual techniques of representation. Hessler's ambivalence towards his hosts, the Chinese, permeates his work and his opinion of them fluctuates from love to despise. At times he finds himself respecting them while at other times he is frustrated with them. Hessler's failures - his obeisance to traditions of Colonialism - are of little interest, since he is simply following the norm; his use of Spurr's techniques, however, should be recognized for the alternative voice of foreign representation they offer."

Sample of Sources Used:

  • Hessler, Peter. River Town: Two Years on the Yangtze. 2002. Toronto: Harper Perennial. 2006.
  • Spurr, David. The Rhetoric of Empire: Colonial Discourse in Journalism, Travel Writing, and Imperial Administration. Durham, N.C.: Duke UP, 1993.

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"River Town" (2007, January 29) Retrieved March 05, 2024, from https://www.academon.com/book-review/river-town-91516/

MLA Format

""River Town"" 29 January 2007. Web. 05 March. 2024. <https://www.academon.com/book-review/river-town-91516/>