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In: Remembering May Fourth

Abstract

This chapter proposes to re-examine the concept of “vernacular” in the May Fourth context. It argues that the Chinese term for the vernacular, baihua, was not a self-evident concept in the May Fourth context, since its meanings were still being contested in the May Fourth period. By tracing the connotations of the term from the late Ming to Qing and early Republican periods, this chapter shows that what we take as baihua nowadays is actually modern invention. This chapter particularly investigates the transformation of the concept of baihua in the May Fourth context by using Hu Shi’s writings as a primary example. The author suggests that concept of baihua in the May Fourth period was not just considered a new instrument or medium of writing, but more as a kind of quality, property, and potentiality that can be used to evaluate or predict the health or life span of any living language.

In: Remembering May Fourth

Originally derived from historical and philosophical writings, xiaoshuo is the modern Chinese term for fictional work of any length. However, how this term came to be used to translate the Western concepts of “fiction” and “novel” is a question that remains to be fully explored. This paper focuses on Lu Xun’s seminal work Zhongguo xiaoshuo shilüe (A brief history of Chinese fiction; 1925) so as to investigate the ways in which the Western concept of fiction is built into Lu Xun’s historicization of xiaoshuo. I argue that Lu Xun’s articulation of xiaoshuo is distinguished by his emphasis on both the term’s universality and its “Chinese-ness.”

In: Frontiers of Literary Studies in China
The Movement and its Centennial Legacy
Read an interview with Carlos Yu-Kai Lin.

Remembering May Fourth: The Movement and its Centennial Legacy is a collective work of thirteen scholars who reflect on the question of how to remember the May Fourth Movement, one of the most iconic socio-political events in the history of modern China. The book discusses a wide range of issues concerning the relations between politics and memory, between writing and ritualizing, between fiction and reality, and between theory and practice. Remembering May Fourth thus calls into question the ways in which the movement is remembered, while at the same time calling for the need to create new memories of the movement.
In: Remembering May Fourth
In: Remembering May Fourth