Configurations of the Real in Chinese Literary and Aesthetic Modernity


The emergence of the Chinese socialist realist novel can best be understood in light of the half-century long formation of the modern concept of literature in China. Globalized in the wake of modern capitalism, literary modernity configures the literary text in a relationship to both modern philosophy and literary theory. This book traces China's unique, complex, and creative articulation of literary modernity beginning with Lu Xun's “The True Story of Ah Q.” Cai Yi's aesthetic theory of the type (dianxing) and the image (xingxiang) is then explored in relation to global currents in literary thought and philosophy, making possible a fundamental rethinking of Chinese socialist realist novels like Yang Mo's Song of Youth and Luo Guangbin and Yan Yiyan's Red Crag.

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Peter Button, Ph.D. (2000) in East Asian Literature, Cornell University, is Assistant Professor of Modern Chinese Studies at McGill University. He has published in Positions, Postcolonial Studies, and Philosophy East and West.
"This ambitious book is always engaging, often brilliant, and fantasically complex...[It] is essential reading for any scholar hoping to understand the discourse of aesthetics in modern China..."
Thomas Moran, Middlebury College, MCLC Resource Center Publication (September 2011)

"[...]a highly engaging study and a welcome addition to a number of important Western scholarly works on Chinese realism[...]not only makes for compelling reading, but it opens up the field of modern China studies to inquiries from other disciplines."
Frederik Green, Macalester College, China Review International Vol. 16, No. 2, 2009
Introduction: Toward a Genealogy of the Modern Concept of Literature in China
1. The Trials of Chinese Literary Realism
2. Lu Xun's Ah Q as "Gruesome Hybrid"
3. The Aesthetic Critique of Modernity in Chinese Marxism, New Criticism, and Adorno
4. Global/Modern Figurations of the Type in Cai Yi, Heidegger, and Whitman
5. Aesthetics and Desire in Yang Mo's Song of Youth
Conclusion: Exemplarity in Luo Guangbin and Yang Yiyan's Hongyan: From White Terror to "Red Classic"
All those interested modern Chinese literature, Marxist aesthetics, socialist realism, literary theory, comparative literature, literary modernity and the intersections between literature, and modern philosophy.
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