A Hong Kong Polly: Sima Li

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Chi Xie


This paper sets out to show the crucial influence of Joyce’s early story ‘The Boarding House’ on Hong Kong writer Liu Yichang’s Jiutu (The Drunkard) in the charac­terisation of adolescent female character Sima Li to the extent that she can be seen as the adaptation of Polly in Joyce’s story. It uses the approach of adaptative intertextuality to examine similarities and differences between both adolescent female characters from three perspectives. The first section of this paper begins examining the everyday behaviour of the character Sima Li, and then turns to Polly who is described as ‘a little perverse Madonna’ (D 62) by Joyce. By comparing the personalities of Sima Li and Polly, it attempts to reveal the same dualistic features of both characters. The second section examines the game of love between Sima Li and Jiutu and between Polly and Doran through which to demonstrate that both ‘The Boarding House’ and the story of Sima Li in Jiutu have the similar plot. The final section compares the intended ending of both female characters, while it pays close attention to the changes in Sima Li after her love game with Jiutu so as to distinguish Sima Li from Polly and to underscore her Hong Kong identity. This case study, therefore, responds to the existing criticism on West-East literary comparison through a modern Hong Kong literature example that represents a dynamic negotiation between Europe and Asia, past and present, traditional and modern.

Published: Nov 14, 2022

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