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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.