Gender Politics: ‘Becoming-woman of a Man’ in Soul Mountain by Gao Xingjian


  • Farida Chishti Professor and Chair, Department of English, Government PG Islamia College for Women, Cooper Road, Lahore


Misogyny, Deterritorialisation, Nomadism, Gender-inclusivity


With the key objective to contest the generally held view about the Chinese self-exile fictionist Gao Xingjian (b.1940) as a misogynist, this study contends that he is a gender neutral author who presents both men and women as products of their socio-cultural environment. Drawing on the Deleuzian concept of nomadism as de-terrorialisation, the paper works on Gao’s first novel Soul Mountain as its primary source material, and demonstrates through textual analysis how the ‘majoritarian’ subject in exile learns to deterritorialise from his self-centric power base as a man, and move towards ‘becoming-woman’ of a ‘minoritarian’. Contesting classical dualism, he is able to surmount his propensity to exert power which was a carry forward of his native culture, and empathises with the gender ‘other’. Sensitive to the plight of oppressed women, he leaves feminist territory and prepares for other ‘becomings’ like a true Deleuzian nomad. It is in this sense that he remains in a sustainable process of qualitative transformations in his subjectivity, moving continuously away from ‘being’ majoritarian to ‘becoming’ minoritarian.