Chapter 8 A New Vision of Life in Xiao Hong’s The Field of Life and Death

In: Remembering May Fourth
Author: Todd Foley
  • 1 City University of Hong Kong
  • | 2 University of Pennsylvania

Purchase instant access (PDF download and unlimited online access):



This chapter proposes to examine Xiao Hong’s The Field of Life and Death from the perspective of animality and the natural world. While this novella was initially framed in terms of its immediate social relevance—namely, its nationalist, anti-Japanese sentiment, this chapter shows how this work had effectively operated as a broader critique and subversion of the patriarchal order. By focusing on Xiao Hong’s presentation of animals and the natural world in relation to humans, this chapter contends that Xiao Hong’s critique not only extends to the very conception of the human, but also suggests that the only way to overcome the problems of human society is to reformulate this conception from its basic grounding in the animal.

Remembering May Fourth

The Movement and its Centennial Legacy