Becoming a Global Subject: Language and the Body in Xiaolu Guo's A Concise Chinese-English Dictionary for Lovers
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This article examines the relationship between language and the body in the construction of global subjectivity in Xiaolu Guo's novel, A Concise Chinese-English Dictionary for Lovers (2007), a first-person narrative about a young Chinese woman, Z, who spends a year in London learning the English language. Struggling to articulate herself in English, Z's journey of language acquisition in the interest of global mobility and cultural capital parallels her sexual awakening, bringing to the fore critical questions about the corporeal effects of learning a language and the possibilities of intimacy and communication. The text plays with multiple meanings of corporeality in a contemporary world marked by (non)communication, disclosing the ironic and productive representational tension between the discursive construction of the body--the body as made by language--and the possibility of the body itself as an alternative to language.