In recent years, research on East Asia, including the China, Japan, South Korea, North Korea and other countries and regions, is gradually valued by a group of young Chinese scholars. Eastern regions studies concentrate on how classical Chinese culture was popularized, absorbed and recreated in East Asia. The four East-Asian countries of China, Japan, South Korea and North Korea are geographical neighbors and mutually dependent upon each other. And in the past two thousand years, the neighbors, separated only by small bodies of water, have been communicating frequently with each other culturally, economically and politically by sea and by land. The Chinese characters that have been used for a long time and the thoughts, religion and literature transmitted through Chinese language constitute the so-called “Chinese Cultural Circle.”
This essay examines stories of girls coming of age as depicted by modern Chinese women writers—in particular to the pervasive ness of a certain melancholy in their treatment of the subject. This study offers a vantage point from which it will be possible to survey writers ranging from Ding Ling and Xiao Hong in the 1930s and 1940s to Wang Anyi and Tie Ning in the 1980s and 1990s. As a rule, these seemingly trivial coming-of-age stories are set in the whirlwind of historical change through deep sorrow and grief, not the transcendent aesthetics of the sublime as suggested by grand historical narratives. Mainly based on the close-reading of three literary texts including Xiao Hong’s novel Tales of Hulan River (1941), Tie Ning’s novel The Rose Door (1988), and Wang Anyi’s novel Reality and Fiction (1993), the author argues that the recurrent figure of the “melancholic girl” functions as an important trope in the writing of modern Chinese women writers and that it also serves to reveal various problematic aspects of women’s emancipation in modern China; at the same time, this essay also reveals how melancholy—in the psychological and clinical sense—serves to legitimize a certain degree of ego-formation in its female sufferers.
ON THE "SCIENTIFIC" STUDY OF MODERNCHINESELITERATURE A Reply to Professor Prušek BY C. T. HSIA 1. BASIC PROBLEMS In his long review of my book 1), Jaroslav Prusek has in effect outlined a program for the "scientific" study of modernChineseliterature; he has defined the historical character
This essay traces a modernist aspect of Zhao Shuli’s fiction to his popular story “Rhymes of Li Youcai.” By using an analogy of flaneur from French resources, the essays argues that the major hero’s action delineated as a constant loitering suggests a special mode of intellectual being in his relation to the social and political life he lives in, which is quite exceptional in modern Chinese literature. Moreover, a close reading raises a few theoretical questions about the nature of his storytelling art and invites a rethinking of the relationship between the May Fourth Enlightenment Literature and the Revolutionary Literature.
The modern Chinese literary tradition that emerged along with the May Fourth Movement has already spilt over into every aspect of contemporary Chinese life. As shaping force in Chinese literary and cultural evolution, this “New Tradition” calls for renewed critical scrutiny. In the face of new contemporary challenges that threaten to subvert the May Fourth literary tradition, the value of this tradition calls for grave reconsideration. This paper, as part of a research on the formation of the New Tradition, views this literary tradition as “a chain of interpretative variations” which has undergone the incessant interpretative selections, siftings, and moldings of historians as well as literary critics of various historical phases, and which nevertheless cannot go beyond the limits of their times. This paper examines how literary historians and critics from the 1920s to the 1940s evaluated the New Literature, how they constructed their perspectives on literary history on the basis of their evaluation, how their theories and ideas have come through the decades to bear upon people’s conceptualization and evaluation of the New Literature. The paper aims to map the trajectory of the cognizance of modern Chinese literature as well as some of the significant stages in the early days of the New Tradition.
In this essay I engage with Fredric Jameson’s theoretical works and ideas, especially his concept of national allegory, and examine their possibilities and limits for use in literary analysis of Modern Chinese Literature. In particular, I examine the themes of the nation and the passage of time in the works of Yu Dafu, Lao She, Xiao Hong, and Zhao Shuli and argue for evidence of a historical development from cyclical narrative to messianic and utopian linear time in their novels. While Yu Dafu’s “Sinking” (Chenlun) and Lao She’s Camel Xiangzi (Luotuo Xiangzi) both display a desire to break free from cyclical time and narration, the narratives fold back into themselves. In contrast, Xiao Hong’s The Field of Life and Death (Shengsi chang) mediates between two different temporal schemes and marks a transition to the linear developments prevalent in Socialist Realist novels such as Zhao Shuli’s Sanliwan Village (Sanliwan). While Jameson’s earlier works on Realism, Marxism, and the “Political Unconscious” all provide valuable insight into Modern Chinese Literature and the novels mentioned, Jameson’s engagement with Chinese authors has also opened up new ways of examining Chinese literature.
The New Literature (xin wenxue 新文学), can be dated to modern China of the 19th century, when missionaries from the West wrote their own poems, essays and stories in a sort of European-styled vernacular Chinese known as the ouhua baihua 欧化白话 (Europeanized vernacular written language), different from the gu baihua 古白话 (“old” or antique vernacular). Western missionaries were part of the language modernization campaigns during the Late Qing and the May Fourth Movement (1919). They also participated in the New Fiction (xin xiaoshuo 新小说) and National Salvation by Literature (wenxue jiuguo lun 文学救国论) movements and exerted considerable influence upon modern Chinese literature. Their contribution used to be ignored or underestimated by a restricted perspective of inquiry, which should have been corrected by now.
BASIC PROBLEMS OF THE HISTORY OF MODERNCHINESELITERATURE AND C. T. HSIA, A HISTORY OF MODERN CHINESE FICTION*) BY J. PRUŠEK I. General Remarks Being myself opposed, in principle, to carrying on a discussion in the spirit of dogmatic intolerance and disregard for human dignity, I must, insofar
1 Introduction The modernChineseliterature remains inaccessible to a foreign reader. From one side, there is a lack of translations, and on the other, the division of modernChineseliterature into periods, than into literary schools. Unlike political discourse, there are no hard ideological