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Chinese Modernisms

Abstract and Keywords

This article presents a short account of modernism in China. It explains that the modern is, and has always been, a political project, and that despite the political impetus to modernism, one must also recognize as independently valuable the aesthetic adventures on which so many writers, artists, and film makers embarked over the 1920s–40s. The article acknowledges that the Chinese modern has had a separate rendition across the years between the Socialist Liberation in 1949 and 1980.

Keywords: modernism, China, political project, writers, artists, film makers, Socialist Liberation

Political and Cultural Modernity

The following short account of Chinese modernisms is neither complete nor without contention, but we do hope that three useful starting points will emerge. First, the modern is and has always been a political project, or a series of projects that emerge as part of a seismic shift in the way in which a social world experiences itself and the encroachments of the wider world, but also a direct result of action and decisions made by a new generation of intellectuals and artists. In China, the role of the intellectual has been closely related to political innovation and that relationship cannot be laid aside in literary history. Second, despite the political impetus to much of what we describe below, and much else besides, one must also recognize as independently valuable the aesthetic adventures on which so many writers, artists, and film‐makers embarked over the 1920s–1940s. Whether or not one subscribes to the tendencies and groups as coherent movements, or as literary adventurers and enthusiastic experimenters, the best of the work of the period has had powerful effects on contemporary art and literary practice and provides startling aesthetic links across the phases of twentieth‐century history and back into the imperial past. Third, the role of film in the shaping of a modern sensibility in China is a subject that we do not address here to the degree that the medium deserves, although it has been (p. 977) discussed in more detail elsewhere.1 We would therefore ask the reader to account for film in the Chinese modern, when pursuing the subject beyond this introduction. Finally, we acknowledge that the Chinese modern has had a separate rendition across the years between the Socialist Liberation in 1949 and 1980. This revolutionary modernity and its accompanying aesthetics are, however, so discrete from the Chinese modern of the early twentieth century that it would take a longer work to do justice to this complexity. Again we can only exhort the reader to bear in mind not only the current Reform era, but also the works of revolutionary consciousness (including, for example, the poster art of the 1950s–1970s) when investigating the formations of modernity in Chinese art and literature of the past century.

It is impossible to separate key periods of Chinese sociopolitical change from the modernist interventions of Chinese artists, writers, and scholars. From the early modernity of the late Qing dynasty (1644–1911) to the Reform era of today (1976– ), highly charged debates on China's place in the modern world have been coterminous with cultural practice and political activism. And, while the contemporary avant‐garde is not always as radical as one might expect, nonetheless, the habit of discussing politics through art continues. As a rule of thumb, there is a continuity across Chinese modernist experiments in literature and aesthetic theory that reiterates and critiques China's perceived mistakes on the political scale, however contradictory. On this trajectory, China's ‘mistakes’ include succumbing to colonial interference from the West, resisting the benefits of modernization through the key decades of 1950–80, and then falling headlong into the consumer modern in the Reform era.2

Despite the seeds of modern thinking evident in the poetry of the nineteenth century, the painting of the Ming (1368–1644), and their materialization in the political thoughts of Kang Youwei and Liang Qichao in the 1890s,3 extant histories generally cite the New Culture movement (1917) as the beginning of cultural modernity in China. The New Culture movement was an intellectual cultural revolution culminating in the May Fourth (1919) student protest against the Treaty of Versailles and the continuing influence of Japan in China's trade and current affairs.4 Here we would concur with those such as David D. W. Wang who consider the modern to (p. 978) date from the Qing period,5 while noting that the literary scholar and intellectual historian Wang Hui traces modernity's economic and cultural emergence in China to a much earlier period—to late Ming and the last Chinese imperium.6 Wen‐hsin Yeh, on the other hand, emphasizes that the spread of modernity in China rested on material and cultural change in the everyday sphere, which arose from gradual industrialization and new forms of urban organization. There was no single revolutionary moment prior to 1949 when the world turned upside down.7

Nevertheless, most historians and interpreters of Chinese modernity agree that certain events since late Qing (roughly the mid‐nineteenth century) have imposed a direction upon how the modern is experienced and understood. The Opium Wars, also known as the Anglo‐Chinese Wars, lasted from 1839 to 1842 and 1856 to 1860 respectively. China's defeat in both wars forced the Qing court into signing the Treaty of Nanking and the Treaty of Tianjin, also known in China as the Unequal Treaties. These agreements included provision for the opening of additional ports to foreign trade, for fixed tariffs, and the secession of Hong Kong to Britain. The British also gained extraterritorial rights. Several countries followed Britain and sought similar agreements with China. Many Chinese found this situation humiliating, and such sentiments are considered to have contributed to the Taiping Rebellion (1850–64), the Boxer Rebellion (1899–1901), and, eventually, the downfall of the Qing dynasty in 1911.8 Thus, it is understandable that, while modernity and attendant modernisms were well under way in the nineteenth century, their provenance and context made it preferable to nominate a later inception, which could allow for radicalism without any imperial content. However, there was strong modern opposition to national humiliation far earlier than 1919.

The first collective political and intellectual response to the challenge of Western military and technological superiority was the Self‐Strengthening movement (1860s–1870s). This arose when a number of Chinese officials and intellectuals became convinced that China needed to adopt the technologies and military practices of the West if it were to remain a sovereign state. From the 1860s to the 1890s, the Qing court instituted reforms designed to achieve these goals. Furthermore, the defeat in the First Sino‐Japanese War (1894–5) convinced radical thinkers that sociopolitical changes were needed if the technological and military advancements were to succeed. Their response was the Wuxu Reform, or the Hundred Days' Reform, a 104‐day national cultural, political, and educational reform movement in 1898, led by Kang Youwei and Liang Qichao. The reformists advocated the (p. 979) imitation of measures taken in Japan and Russia regarding how best to manage political and social systems under imperial power. Their efforts ended in failure with a coup d'état, the Coup of 1898, by powerful conservative opponents. Despite the immediate disappointment, this failed reform did lead to far‐reaching institutional and cultural changes. The most influential was the abolition of the Imperial Civil Service examination (1905), which until that point had determined the membership of the ruling class and the structure of the bureaucracy, and was the bedrock of the imperial system of officialdom. As a replacement to the examination system, the Qing government started building what they understood to be modern colleges. There were 60,000 of these by the time of the Republican Revolution in 1911. Meanwhile, the constitutionalism campaign started out with an elaborate outline of constitutionalism but ended with an already powerful prince (from the Qing imperial line) being chosen as prime minister, and seven out of the thirteen members of the cabinet being drawn from the imperial family. Radical constitutionalists changed their political methods after this failure, supporting revolution instead of constitutionalism in their effort to save the nation. Despite their limited success, these reform measures, plus the formation of new, Western‐style, modern armies and rampant anti‐Manchu (non‐indigenous ruling class of the Qing) sentiment, were important precedents to the Xinhai Republican Revolution, which began with the Wuchang Uprising on 10 October 1911 and ended with the abdication of Emperor Puyi on 12 February 1912. The Xinhai Revolution effectively ended the Qing dynasty and millennia of powerful imperial rule. It is generally considered to have ushered in a new era and marked the beginning of Chinese political, economic, and cultural modernity.

Concurrent with these political and social upheavals, radical advocacy for cultural reform augmented the sense of crisis. There were those who questioned traditional Confucian values and facilitated the introduction of Western ideas through translation, both sentiments in turn supported by the rise of journalism and changing social expectations towards literature. The latter in particular resulted in the late Qing–early Republican boom in fiction as political tool and social critique. Of most lasting consequence to modern Chinese cultural history in both literary and visual domains, and including revolutionary modernism and post‐revolutionary postmodernism, was the beginning (1895–1911) of what later became the Vernacular (baihua) movement of the 1910s and 1920s. In October 1919, the National Federation of Education Associations called for the government to sanction educational use of the vernacular language, instead of classical Chinese. In the first half of 1920, the Ministry of Education ordered that the written vernacular replace classical language in all grades of primary school. There are no exact equivalents to the magnitude of this shift, but Europeans might compare the move from Latin to the local vernacular as a primary form of written communication, and Arab speakers could reference the gap between modern spoken Arabic and the language used in classical Arabic scripture and literary texts. In all these cases, contemporary users of the older language must undertake instruction and long years of effort to access their written heritage. Likewise, older systems excluded all but the most privileged readers.

(p. 980) May Fourth and Modernist Beginnings

The years immediately following the 1911 Revolution are remembered as a series of failed promises. The resulting de facto warlord governments (1916–27) proved no more promoters of modernization than guarantors of national interests. Recently, however, scholars have argued that there were elements of democratization evident in the leadership of some local power brokers, and indeed point out that ‘warlordism’ is a term that suits the historical perspective and self‐legitimization of the Chinese Communist Party. Frank Dikötter has suggested, indeed, that the history of warlordism is ‘counterfactual’, and that a genuine comparison with the Qing era and the post‐1949 period would suggest that ‘dispersed government’ was far from perfect, but not as much a failure as generally opined.9 Furthermore, Louise Edwards has suggested that the gendered politics of the period were superior in some ways and some places to the generalized assumptions of chaos and corruption sustained through historical summaries written after 1949.10

With these caveats in mind, and recognizing that the history of the May Fourth movement is a legitimizing foundation of the Chinese Communist Party and is therefore politically sacrosanct, some of the historical givens are still warranted. The main issue that young intellectuals held against the federal system was continuing weakness in the face of foreign powers, and poor integration of regional and national interests. It was against this background of disenchantment that the intellectual revolution, the New Culture movement (1917), began. It was led by intellectuals who had decided that political reform should be preceded by a far‐reaching cultural enlightenment. Thus, they held up for critical scrutiny nearly all aspects of Chinese culture and tradition. Inspired by alien concepts of individual liberty and equality, and the ideals of democracy and science, they sought a far more serious reform of China's institutions than that which had resulted from the Self‐Strengthening movement and the early promise of the Republican revolution. They directed their efforts particularly to China's educated youth.

Young Chinese fury at the concessions to Japan embedded in the Treaty of Versailles, and especially at the continuation of colonial rule in Shandong Province, culminated in what was later called the May Fourth Incident. The anti‐imperialist student protest which began on 4 May 1919 became a major cultural and political movement. It was no less than an attempt at a combined intellectual and sociopolitical movement to achieve national independence, the emancipation of the individual, and a just society. These huge aims were to be achieved through the modernization of China. The movement's leaders operated under the assumption that intellectual changes would lead to modernization through an embrace of intellectual, artistic, (p. 981) and industrial development.11 In reality, although the movement's iconoclastic attack on the socially fragmented, hierarchical structure of Chinese society may have contributed to the eradication of cognitive and social barriers to the consolidation of a nation state and to domestically driven industrialization, it was at heart a cultural revolution. Most significantly, although variously characterized as a Renaissance, the Chinese Enlightenment, or a Romantic Era,12 the movement led to the embrace of Marxism both in the cultural sphere and as a political ideology. May Fourth is now considered the foundational cultural legacy of the second revolutionary war and victory, which established the People's Republic of China in 1949.

Cultural iconoclasm was a key mobilizing force within the events and activities of the movement. Passionate critiques of Confucianism, traditional customs and habits, oppression of women, superstition (mixin), and the ethical system of ritual (li) dominated the cultural debates and were the major themes of literary creation. They were aided by ‘translingual practices’ that translated, appropriated, and transformed Western ideas, systems of thought, and cultural forms.13 While major universities, notably Peking, served as the location for the intellectual ferment, journals such as New Youth (1915–26), edited by Hu Shi and Chen Duxiu, functioned as the foundational forums for the New Culture movement, promoting science, democracy, and vernacular literature.

Modernist experimentation in literature and aesthetic thought was central to the May Fourth movement.14 European and Japanese modernist writers had been translated and introduced to China from the beginning of the twentieth century. Modern Chinese literature is indeed self‐defined as a component part of world literature. And, while key figures of both the New Culture movement and New Chinese literature such as Lu Xun and Guo Moruo are claimed as defining figures in the more dominant modes of social realism and Romanticism in received histories, they should be simultaneously credited as modernist in their aesthetic vision and formal practices.15

(p. 982) Modernist invention was significant in the years after the May Fourth moment. In 1920 Tian Han and Shen Yanbing, through the journals New Youth and Transformation, introduced neo‐Romanticism as the newest development in modern Western literature.16 They observed that, since the end of the nineteenth century, while capitalist material civilization had become highly developed, its social limitations were also apparent. The First World War was, in their opinion, the culmination of the social decay of capitalism. It led to a need for spiritual consolation rather than material wealth. This was for them the social‐historical raison d'être of neo‐Romanticism. Their position is especially interesting from the perspective of contemporary Chinese art practice, where the Reform era now evidences some dissatisfaction with wealth‐based value systems and a generation of young people disillusioned with a post‐ideological existence.

Neo‐Romanticism was a reaction to nineteenth‐century Naturalism, and emphasized the symbolic representation of the subjective and mythical realms of life. It was subsequently referred to as aestheticism, literature of decadence, and Symbolism, and its essence was epitomized for Chinese neo‐Romantics by the works of Charles Baudelaire, Paul Verlaine, Arthur Rimbaud, and Stéphane Mallarmé. Futurism, Expressionism, Dadaism, Imagism, Surrealism, all followed the defeat of Naturalism.17 Shen Yanbing (Mao Dun) in particular emphasized that the set path for the New Chinese Literature was neo‐Romantic. He argued that if modern Chinese literature were to join the literatures of the world, then it must engage in a period of emulation of Western literary experiment.18

The early practices of modernism on the Chinese literary scene may be characterized as attempts at coherence with the literary development of the outside world, reflecting the sense of belatedness and urgency that plagues late‐developing modernities. This has been pointed out by a number of critics and is sometimes perceived as a lack of critical originality. Some even conclude that this demonstrates that the Chinese modernist impulse is defined and limited by its semi‐colonial condition.19 However, their eagerness to be modern and culturally relevant in the international sphere did not necessarily indicate a lack of critical judgement on the part of Chinese intellectuals. The choices made by the innovators demonstrated not only an appreciation of newness but also an unmistakably critical approach to foreign cultures and sources. Modernism operated as a cultural inoculation against the overweening imperial power derived from European modernization, and thus especially as a riposte to the imperialism and sub‐imperialism of China's own governance in the long period of humiliation leading up to the First World War and its immediate aftermath.

(p. 983) Dissonance and Continuity

Our contention is, then, that early twentieth‐century Chinese modernists made evaluative and critical distinctions among different modernist movements. Chinese neo‐Romanticism in 1920 involved a critical rethinking of capitalist modernity and its literary implications. Futurism, for instance, was introduced even though Chinese interpreters decided it was somewhat ridiculous and glossed it as such. As early as 1914, Zhang Xichen had already translated and presented Futurism in the context of transnational movements from Italy to Japan. In an article he translated from an unknown Japanese author, ‘World‐Wide Futurism’, the subtitles captured the defining qualities and national presumptions of these aesthetic experiments: ‘What Is Futurism?’, ‘Destruction of Old Civilization’, ‘Eulogizing Modern Mechanical Civilization’, ‘Eulogizing War Literature’, ‘English, American, and French Futurisms’, ‘Russian Futurism’, ‘Futurist Menu’, and ‘Japanese Futurism’.20 In 1921 Song Chunfang translated Futurist plays and characterized them as mad and farcical.21 Guo Moruo disavowed Futurism as a cultural expression, commenting that it was ‘a freak birth out of extreme materialism…It believes all that is now is worth representing. All human desire and ambition worth affirming, even the money‐grabbing instincts. Therefore capitalism, even war, becomes something praise‐worthy.’22

Guo's critique may be more reductionist than aesthetically discerning, but it does show that, even in their eagerness to catch up with the modernized world, the early twentieth‐century Chinese modernists marked their differences and made their choices. Ambivalence to capitalist modernity as well as to its cultural expression runs throughout their judgements. Mao Dun, while he appreciated the aesthetic impulses of Futurism, most especially its fascination with power, speed, noise, and chaos, similarly critiqued its blind worship of these qualities, which he felt demonstrated the Futurists' wrongful capitalist consciousness.23

Symbolism, meanwhile, became one of the most influential aesthetic and poetic movements in the history of modern Chinese literary culture. It similarly began as a translated, transplanted modernist practice modelled on European prototypes, but it gradually emerged as a major creative component in the formation and transformation of modern Chinese poetry. From 1919 onwards, Symbolist poetry and drama were systematically translated and introduced. Translators of Symbolist poetry noted its emphasis on suggestion and ambiguity, and its reliance on the use of evocative (p. 984) subjects and images rather than explicit analogy or direct description. They also, however, pointed to Symbolism's interest in the concept of the inner life, the macabre, the mysterious, and the morbid, all of which were central to the fascinations of the European fin de siècle. The Chinese advocates of Symbolism unsurprisingly lauded the images of the profane, the decadent, and the sensual, introduced by poems such as those collected in Baudelaire's Les Fleurs du mal (1857).24 What is of most interest, perhaps, is that, although many commentators and translators highlighted the timely quality of the movement as anti‐Romantic and anti‐realist, they also pointed out that the typical Symbolist practices of suggestion, ambiguity, and evocation were reminiscent of classical Chinese poetry. The latter was, of course, the target of the modern poetic revolution. Nonetheless, in the manner of the ‘almost symbolic’ mannerisms of Ming dynasty scholar painting, it now appeared that Chinese poetic practice had been modernist centuries before the event. Thus, the continuity between the late imperial Chinese modern and translated post‐imperial modernism was especially evident in the Symbolist movement.

Symbolism is a rare instance in modern China where a non‐mainstream literary trend has become relatively established and influential. It was introduced in the first decade of the New Culture, New Literature movement, and continued to be a noted literary practice until the late 1940s, just before the establishment of the People's Republic of China. In the later years of the Second World War and the post‐war years, when nationalism and then a radicalized left cultural turn held sway, it had begun to sound a more dissonant note. Nonetheless, its imprint on modern Chinese poetry is irrevocable.

Li Jinfa, whose poetic career is mostly limited to the few years when he was studying in Paris, is usually regarded as the first Chinese Symbolist poet. His poetry collections Wei Yu (‘Drizzle’) and Sike yu xiongnian (‘The Gourmand and the Year of Ill Fortune’) were completed between 1920 to 1923, and published in 1925 and 1927 when he came back to China.25 Li had aimed to seize the best of both the Chinese and European poetic traditions and to create new poetic possibilities in their harmonious correspondence. This, shown most often in a mixture of classical and modern diction, underpins his claim that poetry is not the clarion call of the times but a product of sensations and emotions. His insistence that the poet should capture images, record inspirations, and re‐create them according to his associations free from external objects and consciousness, strikes a discordant note in the rhetoric of the modern Chinese literary revolution, and poses a particular problem for post‐1949 literary historians. Even standard histories cannot discount him as a simple admirer of decadent Western tradition, for he was also critical, and powerfully so. He wrote in ‘Life's Ennui’ that the Europe he was witnessing was a morass, where

(p. 985)
  • massacres of history
  • shrieks of hunger,
  • forever harass me outside my door,
  • my heart and soul cower.26

Li, however, was most devoted to recording the poet's sensations, expressing his unnameable moods, capturing human dreams and psychosexual details. He used symbols to describe melancholia, to suggest the soul's struggle through verse notorious for its mystery, emptiness, and obscurity. The first poem in Drizzle, ‘Woman Forsaken’, is an internal monologue of a forsaken woman. The poet expresses her sorrowful bitterness as a social outcast. For Li, the image of the forsaken woman is not a sign of proto‐feminist outrage, but a mistier symbol of human fate, wherein life is no more than a woman forsaken, hovering between life and death at the graveyard.27 Choosing the trope of a woman forsaken by men as the epitome of tragic inevitability, the poet rewrites modern life as unjust and lonely, and retains its masculinist centre.

Poetic Modernism

There are recurrent themes and frequently used metaphors in Li's poems: the graveyard, death, grey dreams, the lonely traveller, evening bells, moss, the mad soul, melancholia, the Devil, hell, a fallen flower petal. All would appear anathema to the progressive modernization themes of the New Culture movement. While opening up new poetic horizons both in terms of imagery and sensibility for the modern Chinese poetic experimentation, these figures and metaphors also earned Li the title of ‘the poet of anomaly’, which is perhaps code for historians having no idea how to place him effectively in the legitimate historical teleologies established after 1949.28

Dai Wangshu is acknowledged not only as a mature Symbolist but also as a major modern Chinese poet.29 His influence crosses over different schools and extends over several decades. Dai studied French literature in Shanghai Zhen Dan University in the 1920s. He was an avid reader of Verlaine and Baudelaire in the original. He went to France in 1932 to study and travel, and returned to China in 1935. Dai started writing and publishing poetry in 1922. His acknowledged Symbolist years are the two decades after 1925. He published altogether ninety poems in four collections, Wode (p. 986) jiyi (‘My Memory’), Wangshu cao (‘Wangshu Grass’), Wangshu shige (‘Poems of Wangshu’), and Zainan de suiyue (‘The Disastrous Years’).30

Dai was also a major translator of modern French, English, and Spanish poetry into Chinese. Almost all his translations have supplementary explanations, detailing technical considerations as well as characterizing the translated poets and their practices. As a supplement to his translation of Baudelaire's Les Fleurs du mal, Dai comments, ‘as to those who censure Baudelaire's work and claim it to be poisonous, who worry that he will mislead new Chinese poetry, the proven history of literature will give them a better answer. A more profound understanding of Baudelaire himself will also lead to a different opinion. This will be true if one does not imitate him superficially.’31

Dai's poetic vision and theory centred on the idea of poetic moods. The poet's mood defines the poem's content and its form. The change of moods determines changes within a poem, its colour, and its rhythm. A poem is thus ‘an expression of the harmony of moods in words’.32 Mood swings literally constitute the rhythm and rhyme, the musicality, of the verse. Also, in Dai's schema, poetry is not the sensory enjoyment of sound, vision, taste, or touch alone. Rather, it provides the summation of all sensual or super‐sensory pleasures. Dai emphasizes the movement and structure of moods as both poetic form and content. Just as moods always change, so are they always in flux, and thus should all external poetic form move and sway. The same flower, grass, tree, leaf, ray of light, and bird in nature may produce different moods and poetic expressions if seen and experienced in different frames of mind and heart. This is the basis of Dai's symbolic correspondence, and again we recognize here the echoes of visual art practice in the landscape (shanshui) traditions, and in Buddhist‐inspired renditions of tree, water, and stone in particular.

Dai's best‐known poem, Alley in the Rain, can be described as a demonstration of the poet's pursuit of a modern musicality in the new vernacular lyrical form (as opposed to the classical Chinese metric system). It displays his poetic ideal of fluidity of form and suggestive thematic ambiguity. As a poem that emphatically embodies the poet's moods into suggestive but ambiguous symbols, it reveals subtle fusions of the late Tang (827–860) mode of poetic lamentation of life's inevitable melancholia and Verlaine's scheme of the necessary mixing of ambiguity and accuracy in poetic imagery:

  • With an oil‐paper umbrella, alone I
  • Wander in a long
  • Lonely alley in the rain,
  • Hoping to meet
  • A melancholy girl
  • (p. 987) Like a lilac …
  • She drifts by like a lilac
  • In a dream;
  • The girl drifts by me.
  • She walks farther and farther
  • Until she reaches the broken fence
  • At the end of the alley in the rain.33

The poem has seven stanzas. It describes a lonely youth, presumed to be the poet, who wanders in an alley waiting for the passing of a girl who is like a lilac. Except for the sound of the raindrops on the umbrella, the alley is quiet and melancholic, as is the lilac‐like girl in the youth's eyes. The poet–youth's moods take first priority in the poem. They are suggested in the image of the girl in transience, whose lilac‐like melancholia is identified and coveted by the poet. The girl herself is drifting outside, indifferent to the poet's feelings and resisting the schema of the poem. The poet's moods are projected onto the drifting of the lilac‐like girl, the lonely alley, and the dripping rain. They are ambiguous and unclear, the melancholy and the poet's loneliness are conveyed but unnameable. The images, as symbols of these transient moods and feelings, are also drifting and dripping; they appear only in passing.

Dai's moods and form are now considered the orthodox manifestation of Chinese Symbolism. This is something of a breakthrough, as for years they were judged by official literary historians in Mainland China to be too reminiscent of the old, the Western, and the unhealthy to be representative of the progressive Chinese modern.34 Dai's poetic vision and practice are also considered by his contemporaries, as well as later Chinese modernists, as the forerunner and cornerstone of a Chinese modernist poetry movement (xiandaipai) that became prominent in the 1930s. Poets and critics who identified with this movement described themselves as being no longer content to introduce particular strands of European modernisms, unlike the earlier neo‐Romanticists or Symbolists. Rather, they intended to create a ‘pure’ and ‘purely modern’ poetry which would capture ‘modern life’ and ‘modern moods’ for ‘modern people’ with ‘modern vocabulary’ and in ‘modern form’.35 The modern life to which they referred was that experienced in the fast‐paced, noisy, greedy, and brutally competitive trappings of modernization in the early decades of the twentieth century. This was a modernity shared with their European and Japanese counterparts (industrial harbours, noisy factories, department stores, jazz clubs, and the First World War are the manifestations of modernity most frequently referenced in their poetic manifesto and practice). They pursued various poetic forms but concentrated on a free‐verse form different from both the prosaic tendencies in the earlier vernacular poetic experimentations of the New Culture movement and the strict lines regulated by the classic metric system. They explicitly rejected the functionalist conception of (p. 988) poetry as a tool or weapon for social reform and politics, a stricture which was beginning to take hold in the 1930s in China, and would reach fruition at the Yan'an Talks in 1942, and implementation in the years post‐1949.36 But for now, for both the theorists and poets, modernist poetry, as the most desirable form of modern poetry, should pursue nothing else but pure modern poetic form and moods.

Besides Dai Wangshu, the most notable poets of this self‐conscious poetic modernism were Bian Zhilin, Fei Ming, and Xu Chi. The first three were also the acknowledged precursors of the Taiwanese modernist movement in the 1960s. As presaged in Yan'an, this promising beginning of the maturation of modern Chinese poetry was soon ended by the Second World War and by subsequent nationalist and, crucially, socialist political and aesthetic demands.37

Fiction and Psychoanalysis

The other notable and relatively established modernist literary practice both in its time and through subsequent Chinese cultural history is experimentation in psychoanalytical fiction. In 1920 Jun Chang introduced Freud and the libidinal in his redefinition of poetic creation as the satisfaction of sexual drive.38 But it was Zhang Dongxun who systematically introduced psychoanalysis, through the work of Freud and Jung.39 Throughout the 1920s, there were numerous translations and discussions of psychoanalysis and its literary cultural applications, both from European sources and through Japanese interpretation. Zhu Guangqian's studies The Psychology of Literary Art (1936) and Abnormal Psychology (1933) not only went further in systematically introducing and analysing the Freudian psychoanalytical enterprise, but also proposed that ‘those who study literature and art have to understand the concept of sublimation and the function of sexual drives in the human unconscious…It is therefore imperative to study abnormal psychology.’40 The translation and study of psychoanalytic literature was carried out through the 1940s and re‐emerged at the end of the 1970s to mid‐1980s in the Reform era post‐Mao.

(p. 989) New theories and interpretations of traditional as well as modern Chinese literature and culture have resulted from the introduction of Freudian psychology. Guo Moruo was the first to use Freudian psychoanalysis to explicate the classic Yuan dynasty (1271–1368) play Romance of the Western Chamber (by Wang Shifu). Guo seemed to agree with the Freudian explanation that all literature originates from libidinal drives, and proposed to reread classic Chinese romances as youthful and rebellious expressions of sexual repression against patriarchy.41 Zhou Zuoren, on the other hand, used the theory of the unconscious to defend his contemporary Yu Dafu. He argued that Yu's controversial novella Chenlun (‘Sinking’, 1921),42 which records in detail the protagonist's conflicts between the flesh and the soul, is a genuine work of art, a bold psycho‐emotional revelation of the self and the collective, and not at all immoral (as many alleged). For him it is an excellent example of the artistic sublimation of unconscious sexual repression and personal depression shared by young people at the time. It is consequently the most representative work dealing with the frustrations of modern Chinese youth.43 Guo Moruo described his own novella Canchun (‘The Remains of Spring’)44 as a delineation of the characters' psychological movement rather than a plot narration. He suggests that the story is best read in terms of psychoanalysis or as an explication of dreams.45

Many fiction writers quickly understood the creative potential of the psychoanalytic turn in characterization and in the depiction of emotive, internal life. They realized that the realms of human psyche, the conscious and unconscious, as well as instincts and desires, were invaluable resources for fictional representations of life as yet unexplored in Chinese literature. Lu Yin's Li Shi riji (‘Li Shi's Diary’, 1923) is a poetic exploration of the friendship between two young women. Its homoerotic overtones, although explicit, are nonetheless conveyed in symbols and dreams. One day Li Shi finds herself falling deeper and deeper in love with Wan Qing and drifts into a dream:

I dreamt there was a little stream. By its side stood a graceful cottage; in front there were two gigantic willows, their branches gently touching the thatched roof; under the willows there was a small boat. The sun was setting then, and white clouds blocked the sky, Wan Qing and I were in the boat, rocking to and fro, we drifted further into the reeds. Suddenly it rained, we (p. 990) were protected by the reeds so could not see the drops, but we heard the unceasing sound of their falling…Now recalling the dream, isn't it what we always wanted?46

Clouds and rains are standard metaphors in classical Chinese for sexual intercourse. A thatched cottage, weeping willows, and a boat on the stream provide the typical setting for traditional love stories. These explicit references within the dream make the psychosexual evocation of the narrative very clear. Shi Zhecun, who was the editor of the journal Xiandai (Les Contemporaines), around which the previously discussed modernist poets gathered, not only writes about sexual libidinal drives and their effect on the human psyche, but also probes their distortion. His short story ‘Meiyu zixi’ (‘Monsoon Eve’, 1933) was understood as a demonstration of the unconscious, in particular of repressed sexual stirrings.47 It tells the story of a city man on the way back from his work in the rain, and his encounter with an unknown young woman and consequent psycho‐emotional activity. The whole story is a non‐sequential process of free association of the protagonist's instincts, impressions, and fantasies; his conscious musings and unconscious desires. The pre‐monsoon drizzle, the pedal‐cab ride, the peep of a shop girl, and the pointed, phallic umbrella which the man holds in his hand, all contribute to a revelation of the psychosexual unconscious of the protagonist and of the city streets as an active player in modern human psycho‐emotional consciousness. Cun Yang (‘Spring Sunshine’, 1936) is even more direct in its depiction of the effect of sexual repression on an old spinster whose unexpected riches had ruined her chances of marriage.48 The narrative centres on her sudden sexual awakening one fine spring morning and the disturbing consequences thereof. The Freudian reference is here thematic rather than structurally employed. As an avowed modernist, Shi wrote numerous short stories and novellas about sexual repression, displacement, sublimation, and distortion, which also necessarily meant that he was consistently experimental in his narration. He relied on suggestive symbols, free association, and stream of consciousness, avoiding sequential accounts of temporal and spatial cause and effect. These works, and those of Li Jianwu among others, placed the individual psyche at the disposal of the first cultural revolution. Although dormant for most of the second half of the twentieth century, their gift has been recuperated in contemporary film, arts, and literature. The scope of this chapter does not permit us to investigate the cultural individualism of the twenty‐first century, but we would suggest that the impact of the Freudian psyche is still underestimated in scholarship on Chinese culture.

(p. 991) New Sensationalism

The New Sensationalist school grew from the precedents offered by both psychoanalytic knowledge and Symbolism. Its first practitioner, Liu Na'ou, introduced the term and its assertions from Japan in his translation of modern Japanese literature.49 Liu and his fellow New Sensationalists were interested in the sensations of the moment and the use of symbols to capture the existential quality of human experience. They emphasized the subjective and the psycho‐emotional in representing the external and experiential. While this made them seem part of the psychoanalytical experiment, or Symbolist in their technical pursuit, it is their exclusive focus on the modern Chinese urban that has earned them lasting attention.

Mu Shiying, the movement's key figure, was a minor writer but one who evinced a cinematic sense of space and time. His work was noted for its depiction of new urban youth and the cityscape of Shanghai, using Sensationalist techniques to highlight the fast‐moving impressions of sound, light, colour, and shape. The fragmented piece ‘Shanghai de Hubuwu’ (‘The Shanghai Foxtrot’, 1932) was, he averred, only a technical experiment in preparation for a longer novel, and so we read it in that light.50 The story has no plot, no visible structure, and breaks away from conventional narrative modes. It demonstrates the fast flow of metropolitan time, the fluidity of human consciousness, and recalls the Dada cinema of Leger and Andrews, and the photography of Man Ray.51 In the story, foxtrot and waltz provide the rhythm of the piece, randomly listing contrastive urban images and objects: neon lights, dancing girls, Nestlé chocolates, jazz, and high‐heels clipping along the tree‐lined avenues in the French Concession. Indeed, one might also cite the lessons in montage which Eisenstein's cinema had taught the world, and the shimmering associative narrative of European–Hollywood's tale of urban attractions in Seventh Heaven (Borzage, US, 1927).

Shu-mei Shih describes Liu Na'ou's narrative technique in his rendition of a nightclub scene as ‘synaesthetic listing’, as the narrative angle behaves as a film camera, moving from an establishing shot of the scene into medium close‐ups of the types and characters that give the location human texture:

Everything in this Tango palace is in melodious motion—male and female bodies, multicoloured lights, shining wine goblets, red, green liquid, and slender fingers, garnet lips, burning eyes…The air is heavy with a mixture of alcohol, sweat, and oil, encouraging all to indulge in the high level of excitement. There is a middle‐aged man laughing heartily with (p. 992) his teeth showing, a young lady speaking endearingly while her arms make charming, affected gestures…52

The writings of the New Sensationalists were thus, from the perspective of literary historians perhaps, indebted to the international and local cinematic cultures in which they developed and from which they learnt how to embody the speed and disorientation of the modern city in their prose. And, as befits the output of China's cinematic city, New Sensationalism is widely studied as representative of Chinese modernism and of the avant‐garde of modern Chinese city literature.53 The poets' pursuit of modern urban themes and modernist narrative techniques and their high‐pitched manifesto of ‘decadent, urban sensation’, or perhaps ‘art for art's sake’ as long as it is truly meaningless, have marked them out as an important alternative cultural movement in the two decades before Liberation in 1949.

Modernist Confrontation

Even a brief and incomplete account of Chinese modernism indicates that the relationship between sending and receiving cultures ‘involves a far more complicated process than the simple transmission of a literary model from one culture to another; [and] that reception of influence is frequently predicated on intrinsic conditions and needs; that an influence cannot take place unless there is pre‐existing predisposition’.54 In his study Milestones in Sino‐Western Literary Confrontation, Marian Galik defines ‘influence’ as ‘confrontations’, as a process to be understood ‘in the broadest possible connections and parallels, in all their essential motions and contexts’.55 Galik further elaborates by way of the Soviet comparativist A. S. Bushmin that ‘literary continuity’ (snyatie/Aufheben) in the encounter of two or more literatures is ‘the highest contact‐taking’, which, as ‘a creatively mastered‐tradition, is in its essence in a dissolved, or philosophically speaking, in a “cancelled” state’.56 This understanding of influence, for Galik, is to shift the emphasis to the ‘receiving end’:

If we divide the word Aufheben in its Hegelian connotation into its three meaningful components: to cancel, to preserve, and to lift up, then it becomes clear that the process (p. 993) (which may be understood as influence) may imply a new phenomenon which becomes relevantly modified in the prism of the receiving literary and social context, primarily in connection with the creative abilities of the receiving subject and the needs of the receiving literary structure.57

To be influenced in this sense is to make a historically implicated choice which presupposes transformation as a component of creativity. The idea of ‘redisposition’ foregrounds the needs and agencies of the new writers, adapters, translators, and transformers. They are not merely on the receiving end of the work of others, but become transformative and deliberative new voices referencing culturally distinct patterns of expression while finding their own timbre and reason. The case of the early twentieth‐century Chinese modernist experimentation becomes most meaningful when understood in the prism of its historical and social context, that is, vis‐à‐vis its relations with China's protracted modernization process. Early twentieth‐century Chinese modernist movements often strike discordant notes in the major tunes of their particular times. They have never been institutionalized as the highest achievement of modern literary development and, unlike their European counterparts, remain marginal in Chinese cultural history.

Reform and its Avant‐Garde Literary Reflection

The economic Reform in Mainland China in the late 1970s was a political movement to change the historical direction of socialist modernization. It aimed to adopt reform measures that would rebuild a Chinese modernity then considered by both the state and the populace to have gone severely astray during many years of political strife and ideological cleansing. This political‐economic revolution also sparked a literary reformation. Modernist forms and practices were once again appropriated as aesthetic and cultural interventions against the mainstream of reform and post‐reform culture. Where mainstream reform literature functions predominantly as the thematic and affective testing ground for the new vision of developmental modernization, it is still as social‐realist in form as it has been for the past thirty years. Modernist experiments, under such circumstances, intervene directly in both politics and the politics of culture. Wang Meng's trail‐blazing exploration of the stream of consciousness is an outstanding case in point. His novellas Chun zhi sheng (‘The Sound of Spring’, 1980) and Hu Die (‘Butterfly’, 1980) are written as free associations of the psycho‐emotional activities of reformed and reinstated party officials and ordinary people in the aftermath of the Cultural Revolution, and reveal (p. 994) great ideological scepticism and post‐ideological ennui.58 The free‐flowing associative internal monologues of his characters evince doubt and disillusionment in the wake of political extremism, rather than shared hope for the new era. Wang's own sense of disillusionment, aided by the psycho‐emotional depth achieved by his use of the stream of consciousness, hints that the failure of thirty years of socialist modernization may not be merely tactical, but fundamentally historical. Wang's modernist formal experimentation, however, is pioneering in itself, as his free‐flowing narrative structure showcased for the first time the possibility of multiple narrative forms in the literary history of the People's Republic of China. Wang's modernist exploration has finally allowed historical narrative its personal psychological manifestation.

The much‐studied Menglongshi (Misty Poetry) movement is paradoxically hailed as the beginning of the literature of this new era. While ‘the New Era’ is an affirmative naming of the mainstream culture of the time, Menglongshi actually began as an underground poetic movement of political protest. Its targets were the institutions of the state and the cultures that they encouraged. Despite being the most forceful avant‐garde of the literature of the New Era, its experimental form and deep scepticism quickly returned it to the margins in the reform and post‐reform Chinese literary and artistic scene.59 Bei Dao, Mangke, Duoduo, Gu Cheng, Su Ting, the leading poets of this movement, all consider themselves, and are considered by others, as cultural rebels. Not only does their poetry demonstrate their devotion to the creative and literary in restrictive circumstances, but the act of writing is itself the way by which they directly ponder, engage with, and counter social reality. Although the individual poets differ widely in their aesthetic visions and stylistic choices, the Menglongshi movement is in the avant‐garde of contemporary Chinese literature owing to its collective breakaway from conventions of the socialist era, which might be briefly characterized as direct expression of positive emotions for politically sanctioned themes in simple metric systems and folksy language. Their reliance on metaphors and suggestion is as much political necessity as aesthetic deliberation. Thanks to the Menglongshi poets, Chinese poetry need no longer be a political tool. It is this aesthetic of political resistance that has laid the foundation for a different kind of modern Chinese literature. While the modernist formal experiments of these poets, from the use of complicated and elusive imagery to free‐associative internal monologues, to the re‐creation of free verse and epics, may not have gone very far beyond the limits of their predecessor modernist poets from the 1920s and 1930s, their achievement is nonetheless substantial. Their predecessors wrestled with the confines of tradition that were so tenacious in the past, while they have confronted the political and aesthetic restrictions of the present.

(p. 995) The most recent notable modernist literary movement in contemporary China is the avant‐garde fiction experiment beginning in the 1980s. Writers such as Mo Yan, Yu Hua, Su Tong, and Ge Fei self‐consciously experimented with narrative techniques and formal language, and pushed the limits of novelistic practice. Their works claim heritage from Latin American magical realism but also from a reconstructed classical Chinese narrative reliance on details. Novels, novellas, and short stories, sometimes dubbed meta‐ or anti‐fiction, are wilfully deconstructive, either of the extant grand narratives in theme or of the mainstream storytelling conventions in style. Thus, they are sometimes considered postmodern pioneers.60 The end of these experimental fiction writings, which came sooner than expected, was brought about not by complicity with the reform and post‐reform cultural politics as is sometimes charged, but by the very successes of the reform of cultural institutions in post‐socialist China.61 That is, what began as aesthetic interventions in the cultural politics of an extremist socialist modernization became formulaic cultural productions in a thriving market. Now, the formal experiments of these avant‐garde writers no longer pose challenges to the norms or conventions of oppressive political and cultural institutions. These late twentieth‐century modernist practitioners, like their early‐century predecessors, have become another dissonant echo of the modern in the great hall of China's modernization.

Notes:

(1) S. H. Donald and P. Voci, ‘China: Cinema, Politics and Scholarship’, in J. Donald and M. Renov (eds), The Sage Handbook of Film Studies (London: Sage, 2008), 54–73.

(2) See Shu‐mei Shih, The Lure of the Modern: Writing Modernism in Semicolonial China, 1917–1937 (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2001), and Xudong Zhang, Chinese Modernism in the Era of Reforms (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 1997).

(3) See Kang Youwei, Ta T'ung Shu: The One‐World Philosophy of K'ang Yu‐wei, trans. Laurence G. Thompson (London: Allen & Unwin, 1958); Teng Ssu‐yu and John K. Fairbank, China's Response to the West: A Documentary Survey, 1839–1923 (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1979); Liang Qichao, History of Chinese Political Thought During the Early Tsin Period, trans. L. T. Chen (New York: AMS Press, 1969); Liang Qichao, ‘Selections from Diary of Travels Through the New World’, trans. Janet Ngt, Earl Tai, and Jesse Dudley, Renditions, 53–4 (Spring–Autumn 2000), 199–213.

(4) Wang Yao, Zhongguo xinwenxueshi chugao (‘A Draft History of New Chinese Literature’; Hong Kong: Bowen shuju, 1972); Lin Yushen et al. (eds), May Fourth: A Multi‐Angled Reflection (Hong Kong: United Publishers, 1989).

(5) Wang David Der‐wei, Fin‐de‐Siècle Splendor: Repressed Modernities of Late Qing Fiction, 1848–1911 (Stanford, Calif.: Stanford University Press, 1997); see also Jon Kowallis, The Subtle Revolution: Poets of the ‘Old School’ During Late Qing and Early Republic China (Berkeley: Institute of East Asian Studies, 2006).

(6) Wang Hui, ‘Dao Lun’ (‘Introduction)’, in Zhongguo xiangdai sixiang de xingqi (‘The Rise of Modern Chinese Thought’), 4 vols (Beijing: Sanlian shudian, 2004), 1–102.

(7) Wen‐hsin Yeh, ‘Introduction’, in Yeh (ed.), Becoming Chinese: Passages to Modernity and Beyond (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2000), 1–30.

(8) J. Mason Gentzler, Changing China: Readings in the History of China from the Opium War to the Present (New York: Praeger, 1977).

(9) Frank Dikötter, The Age of Openness: China Before Mao (Hong Kong: Hong Kong University Press, 2008), 7–14.

(10) Louise Edwards, Gender, Politics and Democracy: Women's Suffrage in China (Stanford, Calif.: Stanford University Press, 2008).

(11) Chow Tse‐tung, The May Fourth Movement: Intellectual Revolution in Modern China (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1960), 338–55.

(12) Vera Schwarcz, The Chinese Enlightenment: Intellectuals and the Legacy of the May Fourth Movement of 1919 (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1986).

(13) Lydia H. Liu, Translingual Practice: Literature, National Culture, and Translated Modernity—China, 1900–1937 (Stanford, Calif.: Stanford University Press, 1995).

(14) Kirk Denton, Modern Chinese Literary Thought: Writings on Literature 1893–1945 (Stanford, Calif.: Stanford University Press, 1996). As Denton shows, there have been different waves of modernist movements in art, architecture, cinema, literature, and aesthetic theory in China since the beginning of the twentieth century. This present chapter focuses on the early twentieth‐century Chinese modernist aesthetic and literary practices with brief discussions of their fin‐de‐siècle revival as a post‐socialist avant‐garde movement. For comprehensive accounts of Taiwanese modernist literature in relation to the cultural history of Taiwan, see David Der‐wei Wang and Carlos Rojas (eds), Writing Taiwan: A New Literary History (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2007); Sung‐sheng Yvonne Chang, Modernism and the Nativist Resistance: Contemporary Chinese Fiction from Taiwan (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 1993).

(15) Marston Anderson, The Limits of Realism (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1990); Leo Ou‐fan Lee, The Romantic Generation of Modern Chinese Writers (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1973).

(16) Tian Han, ‘Xinlangman zhuyi jiqita’ (‘Neo‐Romanticism and Other Things’), Youth of China, 1/12 (June 1920), 24–52;Shen Yanbing, ‘A Suggestion for the New Literature Specialists’, Transformation, 3/1 (Sept. 1920), quoted from Ma Liangchun and Zhang Daming et al., Zhongguo xiandai wenxue sicao (‘The History of Modern Chinese Literary Development’; Beijing: Shiyue wenxue chubanshe, 1995), 908.

(17) Ma and Zhang et al., Zhongguo xiandai wenxue sicao, 906–7.

(18) Ibid.

(19) See e.g. Shih, The Lure of the Modern.

(20) Zhang Xichen, ‘Worldwide Futurism’, Dongfang zaozi (‘Oriental Journal’), 11/2 (1 Aug. 1914); quoted in Ma and Zhang et al., Zhongguo xiandai wenxue sicao, 911.

(21) Dongfang zaozi (‘Oriental Journal’), 18/13 (10 July 1921); Xiju (‘Drama’), 1/5 (30 Sept. 1921); both quoted in Ma and Zhang et al., Zhongguo xiandai wenxue sicao, 911.

(22) Guo Moruo, ‘Weilaipai de shiyue jiqi piping’ (‘The Poetic Covenant of Futurism and its Critique)’, Chuangzao zhoukan (‘Creation Weekly’), 17 (Sept. 1923); repr. in Guo, Moruo wenji (‘Collected Works of Guo Moruo’), x (Beijing: Renmin wenxue chubanshe, 1959), 38–41.

(23) Fang Bi, Xifang wenxue jieshao (‘Introduction to Western Literature’; Shanghai: Shijie shuju, 1930), 244–5.

(24) Ma and Zhang et al., Zhongguo xiandai wenxue sicao, 370–81.

(25) Li Jinfa, Wei Yu (‘Drizzle’; Beijing: Beixin shuju, 1925) and Sike yu yiongnian (‘The Gourmand and the Year of Ill Fortune’; Beijing: Shangwu yinshuguan, 1927).

(26) In Ma and Zhang et al., Zhongguo xiandai wenxue sicao, 467; trans. modified.

(27) Li Jinfa, ‘Woman Forsaken’, in Michelle Yeh (ed.), Anthology of Modern Chinese Poetry (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1992), 18.

(28) Ma and Zhang et al., Zhongguo xiandai wenxue sicao, 477.

(29) Ibid. 503.

(30) Dai Wangshu, Wode jiyi (‘My Memory’; Shanghai: Shuimo shudian, 1929); Wangshu cao (‘Wangshu Grass’; Shanghai: Xiandai shuju, 1933); Wangshu shige (‘Poems of Wangshu’; Shanghai: Xiandai shuju, 1937); Zainan de suiyue (‘The Disastrous Years’; Shanghai: Xingqun chubanshe, 1948).

(31) Dai, ‘Houji’ (‘Supplement’), in Les Fleurs du mal (Shanghai: Huaizheng wenhua chubanshe, 1947).

(32) Dai, ‘Wangshu lunshi’ (‘Wangshu on Poetry’), Xiandai (Les Contemporaines), 2/1 (Nov. 1932), 92–4.

(33) Dai, ‘Yu Xiang’ (‘Alley in the Rain’), in Yeh (ed.), Anthology of Modern Chinese Poetry, 31–2.

(34) Ma and Zhang et al., Zhongguo xiandai wenxue sicao, 515–17.

(35) Shi Zhecun, ‘You guanyu benkan de shi’ (‘Again About the Poetry in Our Journal’), Xiandai (Les Contemporaines), 4/1 (Nov. 1933), 6.

(36) Ellen R. Judd, ‘Prelude to the Yan'an Talks: Problems in Transforming a Literary Intelligentsia’, Modern China, 11/3 (1985), 377–408.

(37) Ma and Zhang et al., Zhongguo xiandai wenxue sicao, 978–9.

(38) Jun Chang, ‘Xingyu de kexue’ (‘The Science of Sexual Desire’), Dongfang zazhi (‘Oriental Journal’), 17/15 (10 Aug. 1920); quoted in Ma and Zhang et al., Zhongguo xiandai wenxue sicao, 931.

(39) Zhang Dongxun, ‘Lun jingshen fenxi’ (‘On Psychoanalysis’), Mintuo, 2/5 (5 Feb. 1921); cited in Ma and Zhang et al., Zhongguo xiandai wenxue sicao, 931.

(40) Zhu Guangqian, ‘Qian yian’ (‘Preface’), in Biantai xinlixue (‘Abnormal Psychology’; Shanghai: Shangwu shuju, 1933), 1.

(41) Guo Moruo, ‘Xixiangji yishu shang de pipang yu qi zuozhe xingge’ (‘An Aesthetic Critique of The Romance of the Western Chamber and the Personality of the Author, 1921)’, in Guo Moruo quanji (‘Complete Works of Guo Moruo’; Beijing: Renmin wenxue chubanshe, 1985), xv. 322–3.

(42) Yu Dafu, ‘Chenlun’ (‘Sinking’), in Yu Dafu xiaoshuo quanji (‘The Complete Short Stories of Yu Dafu’; Hangzhou: Zhejiang wenyi chubanshe, 1991), 23–34.

(43) Zhou Zuoren, ‘Chenlun’ (‘On Sinking’), Chengbao fukan (‘Morning Post Supplement’), 26 Mar. 1922; repr. in Chen Zishan and Wang Zili (eds), Yu Dafu yanjiu ziliao (‘Research Materials on Yu Dafu’; Hong Kong: Sanlian shudian, 1986), 1–5.

(44) Guo Moruo, ‘Canchun’ (‘The Remains of Spring’), in Guo Moruo quanji, ix. 20–35.

(45) Guo Moruo, ‘Piping yu meng’ (‘Criticism and Dreams’), Chuangzao jikan (‘Creation Quarterly’), 2/1 (1 May 1923); repr. in Wang Xunzhao et al. (eds), Guo Moruo yanjiu ziliao (‘Research Materials on Guo Moruo’; Beijing: Zhongguo shehui kexue chubanshe, 1986), i. 169.

(46) Lu Yin, ‘Li Shi riji’ (‘Li Shi's Diary’), in Ren Haideng (ed.), Li Shi riji (Beijing: Beijing yanshan chubanshe, 1998), 37.

(47) Shi Zhecun, ‘Meiyu zixi’ (‘Monsoon Eve’; Beijing: Xinzhongguo shuju, 1933).

(48) Shi Zhecun, ‘Spring Sunshine’, in One Rainy Evening, trans. Rosemary Roberts (Beijing: Panda Books, 1994), 99–111.

(49) Liu Na'ou (trans.), Sheqing wenhua (‘Culture of Eros’; Shanghai: Shuimo shudian, 1928).

(50) See ‘The Shanghai Foxtrot (A Fragment)’, trans. Mu Shiying, comm. Sean MacDonald, Modernism/Modernity, 11 (2004), 797–807.

(51) See Malcolm Turvey, ‘The Avant‐Garde and the “New Spirit”: The Case of Ballet Méchanique’, October, 102 (Autumn 2002), 35–58.

(52) Liu Na'ou, Dushi fengjingxian (‘Scene’; Shanghai: Shuimo shudan, 1930), 3–6; quoted in Shi, The Lure of the Modern, 288.

(53) Sima Changfeng, Zhongguo xinwenxue shi (‘History of New Chinese Literature’), ii (Hong Kong: Shaoming shudian, 1978), 35, 85, 86; Lee Ou‐fan, Shanghai Modern: The Flowering of a New Urban Culture in China, 1930–1945 (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1999), 154–90; Shi, The Lure of the Modern, 231–370.

(54) Michelle Yeh, ‘The Anxiety of Difference—a Rejoinder’, Jintian (‘Today’), 1 (1991), 94.

(55) Marian Galik, Milestones in Sino‐Western Literary Confrontation (1898–1979) (Wiesbaden: O. Harrassowitz, 1986), 1.

(56) Ibid. 2.

(57) Ibid. 4.

(58) Wang Meng, ‘Chun zhi sheng’ (‘The Sound of Spring’) and ‘Hu die’ (‘Butterfly’), in Wang Meng xiaoshuo baogaowenxue xuan (‘Selected Novelettes, Stories and Reportage by Wang Meng’; Beijing: Beijing chubanshe, 1981), 200–49, 316–40.

(59) Chen Xiaoming, Anxiety of Expression: Historical Disillusionment and Contemporary Literary Reform (Beijing: Central Translation Press, 2002), 29–30.

(60) Chen, Anxiety of Expression, 90–111.

(61) Zhang, Chinese Modernism in the Era of Reforms, 150–200.