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A Little Princess

A Little Princess is a novel written by Frances Hodgeon Burnett, in the late 1890’s, in which a young girl, Sara, is taken by her father from her childhood home in India to a boarding school in London. I will be framing the narrative of a little princess through the imagination of Adeline Yen Mah, when she read the book in 1940s China, and saw herself reflected in the character of Sara. I will keep the original timeline of the 1890s-1900s period that the book was set in, but place the characters in China. Therefore, the dresses of these wealthy young girls will be based on the outfits worn by concubines in Qing dynasty China. As Sara’s role in the story is to bring enlightenment to those who have an emotional gap in their lives, I will be representing her as a Buddhist deity or prophet, pulling references from mainly Chinese Buddhist art and a little of Japanese and Korean as the aesthetic runs its course and develops. Adeline was living in a China that was on the brink of revolution, influenced by a cycle of fashion that began in Buddhist eastern art and faith, adopted and bastardised in the 1900s by Europe and America (as can be seen in a little princess by attitudes and relations with India), returning back to China in a new twisted form in the package of the American Saviours during her childhood in the 1930s and 1940s. I will explore this cycle and how it would affect the imagination of a little girl, reading a story about the magic of storytelling, positive affirmation and love, during a time of misery and conflict in both the lives of Adeline and Sara

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