Primitive and modern: Two faces of Shanghai in Chinese and Western literature

in Frontiers of Literary Studies in China
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Many Chinese writers deem Shanghai of the early 20th century as the most westernized and the most modern city in China, while in the imagination of their Western counterparts Shanghai is still oriental, primitive, barbarous and uncivilized. Despite such an irreconcilable difference, one point shared by those writers, both at home and abroad, is that Shanghai is a chaotic and unrestrained wilderness in terms of morals, which is closely related to the imagined image of an alien land and in conformity with the heterogeneity of both Chinese and Western cultures. This unique feature of Shanghai has become a dominant factor shaping the perception of writers from different backgrounds.

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