Literary modernity : Studies in Lu Xun and Shen Congwen [article]

Maorong Cheng
<span title="">1999</span>
Being an integral part of cultural modernity, literary modernity is an on-going, self-negating, and self-rejuvenating process. It has always been engaged in a dialectical relationship with tradition and is inseparable from the quest for reality based on artistic autonomy and communicative intersubjectivity. In the first half of my thesis, I attempt to show how and why literary tradition has played a decisive role in the process of literary modernity, how and why the Chinese literary tradition
more &raquo; ... different from its Western counterpart; how and why Chinese literary modernity is influenced by, but different from Western literary modernity; and what is the specific path that Chinese writers have been taking to achieve literary modernity, as is distinct from the route that has been followed in the West, i. e., from romanticism to realism to modernism and to postmodernism. The second half of my thesis comprises a detailed study of two of China's foremost writers, Lu Xun and Shen Congwen, by way of illustrating my arguments. The first two chapters investigate some core concepts in the Western and Chinese literary traditions and the formative roles that they have played respectively in. shaping the process of literary modernity in the West and China. In our study of Chinese literary modernity and modern Chinese writers, we should pay special attention to the important role of the Chinese literary tradition, while taking into consideration the impact of Western literature and China's historical contingency. The interactions between these three factors constitute the special character of China's literary modernity. The third and the fourth chapters deal with respectively the fiction of Lu Xun and Shen Congwen, as well as their conceptions of literature. Through a close investigation of a few selected stories by these two writers, I wish to demonstrate how their works embody the general ideas of literary modernity, and at the same time reveal the peculiar features of China's own literary modernity [...]
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