Cultural Encounters and Imagining Multicultural Identities in Two Taiwanese Historical Novels
The historical novel is characterized as a narrative genre representing a plot that takes place in the past. As a way to represent or reinterpret the past, the historical novel at the same time makes sense of histories through perspectives of identity, especially when a writer attempts to construct multiple identities and various perspectives. In the past two decades, a new trend of historical novels has attracted readers using the theme of Taiwan’s multicultural identities, and writers tend to explore the core meanings found in the process of identification. Since the identities of a place and its people are socially, culturally, and institutionally constructed, individuals tend to involve and correspond to external reality. In the process of identity formation, these characters in Formosa are challenged by some state apparatus or other conflicts, but their cross-cultural encounter and cultural negotiation merge into the cultural legacy of Taiwan. This study focuses on the fashioning of the multicultural identity as represented in two Taiwanese historical novels published in the past two decades, Fu Er Mo Sha San Zu Ji (福爾摩沙三族記) and Ci Tung Hwa Zhi Zhan (刺桐花之戰). This study explores several characters’ cultural experiences, which help cognize their surroundings when seventeenth-century Formosa was the site of contests between various tribes. This chapter aims to discuss the cultural encounters in pre-modern Taiwan as well as the formation of multiple identities as represented in two novels. These characters accommodate cultural environment and react against the hostile environment while exploring, modifying, and shaping their collective identities.