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  • Print publication year: 1983
  • Online publication date: March 2008

9 - Literary trends I: the quest for modernity, 1895–1927

Summary
The study of modern Chinese literature is burdened with China's modern history. It origins can be traced to the late Ch'ing period, more specifically to the last decade and a half from 1895 to 1911. This chapter commences with a discussion on this period. For at least two decades before the 'literary revolution' of 1917, urban literary journalism, had already established the market and the readership for the latter-day practitioners of New Literature. Two prevalent forms of fiction writing can easily be discerned on the late Ch'ing literary scene: the social novel and the sentimental novel in which the central focus is on human emotions. For the May Fourth youths 'riding on the tempestuous storm of romanticism', 40 love had become the central focus of their lives. By the May Fourth period, Su Man-shu's legacy, had become a new convention: foreign literature was used to bolster the new Chinese writer's own image and lifestyle.
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The Cambridge History of China
  • Online ISBN: 9781139054799
  • Book DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/CHOL9780521235419
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