Papers on Modern Literature III

Republican
Wednesday
9:00 am – 10:45 am
Room E

  • Daniele Beltrame, “A Forward-Looking Nostalgia: Domesticating Change through Popular Fiction in Republican China. The Case of Bao Tianxiao”
  • Zheng Lin, “Chinese Facing the World in 1921: Guo Moruo and Yu Dafu as Case Studies”
  • Radek Pelucha, “Yu Dafu and the Problem of Self-Expression”
  • Connie Ho-yee Kwong, “Literary Translation as Strategy of Resistance: Ye Lingfeng’s Transcultural Reading of European War Literature during the Second Sino-Japanese War”

Daniele Beltrame, “A Forward-Looking Nostalgia: Domesticating Change through Popular Fiction in Republican China. The Case of Bao Tianxiao”

Popular fiction, or Mandarin Ducks and Butterflies school, was a particularly successful literary trend in China from the late Qing through the Republican period. Most of its authors were active in Shanghai and many of them were offspring of gentry families from nearby cities like Suzhou. Literary talents from that city were the heirs to an outstanding tradition and in their fiction and essays, the nostalgia for Ming-Qing style and topics is evident, especially in the relevance they ascribed to qing 情. They enjoyed old-style literati habits: simplicity, restraint, and the preservation of established forms marked their works and lives. The pre-eminence of romance, mixed with a sentimental view of the past, traces a direct link with the past tradition of mournful distress for a lost paradise of sophistication, love and beauty at the beginning of the Qing era. The freedom of love, even though only enacted in the secluded space of the brothel, was also the early expression of modern consciousness. Through the example of Bao Tianxiao, a representative of Suzhou cultural tradition in modern times, this paper seeks to demonstrate how the Aufhebung of the old contributed to welcome still unchartered modernity. Bao Tianxiao was open to a by then inevitable progress but could not hide his nostalgia of the past, like writers from Suzhou after the fall of the Ming. In a circular motion to find solutions to national salvation and social change, nostalgia, and romance helped accommodating to the trauma of the present.

Zheng Lin, “Chinese Facing the World in 1921: Guo Moruo and Yu Dafu as Case Studies”

This paper aims to examine how Chinese intellectuals established their self-identity both as a Chinese and a cosmopolitan through their experience of studying abroad in the early 20th Century, choosing Guo Moruo and Yu Dafu as case studies, both of whom had studied in Japan and founded the Creation Society. Guo’s Goddess and Yu’s Sink were respectively the first collections of modern Chinese poems and fictions, both published in 1921.
In Goddess, Guo created a series of protagonists who represents a modern Chinese cosmopolitan enthusiastically embracing the new world and the new era. The Heavenly Hound is a declaration of self-discovery proudly howled by Chinese after the May Forth. The Phoenix Nirvana represents the death of old China and the rebirth of new China on the horizon of globalisation. In Morning the protagonist greets various regions of the world and thus maps an imaginative global trip.
With relation to Sink, the protagonist expressed the patriotic enthusiasm for his motherland beneath the repressed lust for women, and thus subtly shift the object of desire to China. The protagonists of Yu suffer from their self-identities tore between China and Japan. Since 1895, Japan had been the enemy meanwhile the model for China, therefore, the seduction of the Japanese prostitute embodies both the attraction and threat of modern Westernised imperialism to Chinese.
The literary texts of Guo Moruo and Yu Dafu demonstrate two typical sometimes ambiguously mingled self-identities of modern Chinese intellectuals in a global context during the early 20th Century, confident yet confused, cosmopolitan yet patriotic.

Radek Pelucha, “Yu Dafu and the Problem of Self-expression”

The aim of the proposed paper is to consider the early narrative texts of the modern Chinese writer Yu Dafu (1896–1945) from the two perspectives described below:
What kind of romanticism is Yu Dafu’s romanticism? The period of transition from premodern to modern Chinese literature offers itself for closer research into the nature of “isms” that were imported into the texture of the Chinese new literature. Thus, in the conceptual conglomerate that could be termed modern Chinese literary romanticism there can be seen: 1. features transmitted from the Western literary tradition 2. features found in the Chinese sentimental tradition 3. features that arrived through the Japanese recasting of the Western tradition.
What is the nature of Self in Yu Dafu’s early writings? How does this Self find its expression through the reactions of the characters in specific situations? The problem of self-expression is both the problem of the relation between the authorial self and the fictional self and the problem of the relation between the culturally conditioned self and the fictional self. The latter relation is of greater importance for the proposed paper as the culturally conditioned self articulates itself into the former relation. The problem of the Self is, in our view, the most different aspect of Yu Dafu’s romanticism as compared to the similar problem in the Western romantic tradition.

Connie Ho-yee Kwong, “Literary Translation as Strategy of Resistance: Ye Lingfeng’s Transcultural Reading of European War Literature during the Second Sino-Japanese War”

Against the grim backdrop of the Second Sino-Japanese War (1937–1945), the Anti-Japanese war literature has become an important chapter of the modern Chinese literature since the 1930s. However, previous studies focused mainly on Chinese leftist writers’ anti-war writings and their national purpose. Discussions on Chinese modernist writers’ attachment to the leftist ideology and their contribution to the war-resistance literature have been very limited. A large corpus of Chinese modernists’ criticism and translation of European war literature in the particular historical context of China have been overlooked, thus making it a missing chapter in the study of Chinese Anti-Japanese war literature as well as Chinese modernist literature.
This paper focuses on Ye Lingfeng (1905–1975), a renowned Shanghai modernist writer, and his edited literary supplement “Yin Lin” of the newspaper Li Po published in Hong Kong during the wartime period. Ye Lingfeng came to Hong Kong in 1937 and published a certain number of criticism and translation of European war literature, including the Chinese translation of Henri Barbusse (1873–1935)’s famous anti-war novel Le Feu: journal d’une escouade (Under Fire: The Story of a Squad). This paper investigates how Hong Kong intellectuals tried to seek their freedom of speech by means of literary translation under the severe political censorship imposed by the British colonial government of Hong Kong. From a transcultural and trans-historical perspective, it also studies Barbusse’s and Ye Lingfeng’s individual perspective on war, internationalism and proletarian revolution, as well as the challenges facing them in Europe and Asia during the wartime.

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Room E
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Republican