Chapter 2 The May Fourth Liberal Legacy in Chan Koonchung’s Jianfeng ernian

In: Remembering May Fourth
Josephine Chiu-Duke
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This essay discusses the continued relevance of the May Fourth liberal legacy in Chan Koonchung’s 2015 uchronic novel Jianfeng ernian: Xin Zhongguo wuyou shi. The May Fourth New Culture Movement was an extremely complex phenomena. It was a multidimensional and multidirectional development with intricate dynamics. A major dimension of this development was clearly the New Literature Movement. Although a literary imaginary, this essay argues that through Chan Koonchung’s Jianfeng ernian, one can see that May Fourth liberal ideas and ideals are explicitly and implicitly woven into Chan’s narrative. In the process, Chan’s novel also reveals the continued relevance of the May Fourth liberal ideas and ideals to many Chinese intellectuals and writers such as Chan himself, not to mention that Taiwan’s transformation to a constitutional democracy is portrayed as a fictional alter ego of China, and yet a real keeper and embodiment of the May Fourth liberal legacy.

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Remembering May Fourth

The Movement and its Centennial Legacy

Series:  Ideas, History, and Modern China, Volume: 23