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Chinese literature – Modern Literature

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Modern Chinese literature is new literature formed under the conditions of historical changes in Chinese society and widely accepted the influence of foreign literature. It not only uses modern language to express modern scientific and democratic thought but also innovates traditional literature in terms of artistic forms and expression techniques. It has established new literary genres such as drama, new poems, modern novels, essays, prose poems, and reportage. In terms of narrative angle, lyric style, descriptive means, and structural composition, there are new creations, with modern characteristics, which are consistent with the world literary trend and become literature in the true modern sense.

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1. “Modern” as a time concept

① Traditional method: 1917-1949. Most scholars. Such as Qian Liqun, Wen Rumin, Wu Fuhui ” Thirty Years of Modern Chinese Literature ” (revised edition), Peking University Press 1998; Cheng Guangwei and others ” History of Modern Chinese Literature “, Renmin University of China Press 2000, etc
②Modern division: including contemporary literature, many scholars in the south. As Zhu Donglin editor of ” Chinese modern history of literature on the” down, Higher Education Press, 1999; 1917-1949 refers to the upper and lower finger 1949 so far.
Also, there is another saying that includes both modern literature and contemporary literature: 20th-century Chinese literature. However, the upper limit has been pushed back to 1898 to date. For example, “History of Chinese Literature in the 20th Century” edited by Kong Fanjin, first and second, Shandong Literature and Art Publishing House, 1993; “Chinese Literature in the 20th Century” edited by Huang Xiuji, upper and lower, China Youth Publishing House 1993; Liu Mingxin and Zhao Jinzhong, edited by “The 20th Century” An Outline of Chinese Literature, upper and lower, Henan People’s Publishing House 1995, etc.

2. “Modern” as a concept of nature

“Preface” of “Thirty Years”: “The so-called modern literature’ means literature that uses modern literary language and literary forms to express the thoughts, feelings, and psychology of modern Chinese people.
① In terms of language, vernacular Chinese replaces classical Chinese.
② In terms of literary form, the connotation and status of novels, poems, proses, and dramas are the same in ancient and modern times.
③ In terms of creative methods, realism, and romanticism. Modernism is equally important.
④In terms of content, it truly belongs to the thoughts, emotions, aesthetic psychology, and aesthetic standards of “modern people”. Democracy, humanitarianism, individualism, labor sacredness, child worship, women’s liberation. The most important point is the appearance of the individuals-the appearance of individuals in the modern sense. Therefore, all thoughts, emotions, and aesthetic psychology start from the individual and all change due to the individual. Especially the emergence and appearance of modernist literature.
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Development History

1. First of all, it is the result of the Chinese nation’s salvation and survival ;

①In the Opium War of 1840, the door to China was opened → military revolution, industrial revolution (the Westernization Movement, the failure to master foreigners’ skills to control the barbarians failed, the 1894 Sino-Japanese War of Sino-Japanese War Captain Deng Shichang killed the Beiyang Navy Governor Ding Ruchang suicide) → politics Revolution (the Hundred Days Coup failed, the Meiji Restoration of Japan succeeded; the power of the Revolution of 1911 was forced to transfer to Yuan Shikai )→Cultural Revolution (deeply felt the poor quality of the people, education saved the country; deeply felt the national ideological numbness, backwardness, the May Fourth New Cultural Movement ) → Literary revolution (against classical Chinese and promote vernacular writing; oppose old literature and promote new literature.) Literature first serves to save the nation from extinction.

2. The second is the result of the evolution of Chinese literature itself

① Classical literature is almost over. Since history entered the twentieth century, people’s lives have undergone great changes, and people’s ways of thinking, thoughts, emotions and psychological structure have also undergone great changes. The inherent classical literature model in China can no longer satisfy people’s needs for expressing thoughts and emotions.
a.language barrier, the most difficult text in the world to learn. In the 1930s, Lu Xun also pointed out that to popularize culture, Chinese characters must be abolished (“Mentawai Wen Tan”).
b. The style is outdated, poetry and essays, and strict norms keep modern people away.
c. the style of writing is unhealthy, learning from ancient times, and imitating ancient times Formalism. Divorced from actual life and became a thing of groaning without illness.
②In fact, modern literature is the first to come. Since modern times, in line with the political and ideological revolution, the literary circle has also set off a wave of revolution.
a .”Revolution in the novel world”. Liang Qichao (1873-1929, with the word Zhuoru, the name Ren Gong, the owner of the ice-drinking room, Guangdong Xinhui ) is the representative. After the failure of the 1898 coup, Liang Qichao turned his attention to ideological and cultural enlightenment. Taking the West as a reference, special attention is paid to the propaganda and enlightenment role of the novel. Contributions: One is to raise the status of the novel, and the other is to open the source of modern enlightenment literature.
b.”Poetry Revolution”. It was first proposed by Liang, but the most representative is Zunxian (1848-1905, the word incommensurate, Guangdong Jiaying now Meizhou City Meixian District people). Huang Zunxian has been a foreign ambassador for a long time and he is very civilized. He saw that Chinese classical poetry could no longer meet the needs of the times, so he advocated a revolution in poetry. The famous viewpoint is: “I write my own words by hand, how can the ancients stick to the current idioms, if I follow the compendium, the generations after five thousand years will be shocked by the ancient and colorful.” To imitate the ancients, as long as we can understand “what the body meets, what the eye sees, what the ear hears”, “the brush is in poetry”, my poetry has its own value. And there is no need to avoid common words and idioms, and require the unity of words and meanings, clear and easy to understand. It is still related to enlightenment. The representative work “Human Realm Lu Poems and Grass”, published in Japan in 1911, is one of the “100 Excellent Chinese Literature Books in a Century”. The impact on Hu Shi.
c. “Literature Revolution”. Represented by Liang Qichao. Oppose the “articles handed down to the world” and advocate the “articles of the world”. It is still related to enlightenment. During the exile in Japan, he founded the Qing Yi Bao and Xin Min Cong Bao to create a new political essay style that often carries emotions, eclectic, and arbitrary. Liang called himself the “new style”.
d. Revolution in the theater. Liu Yazi and others founded the first dramatic publication ” Twentieth-Century Stage ” in modern times. Li Shutong, Zeng Xiaogu, and others’ Spring Willow Club and its new civilized drama. “The Lady of the Camellia in Paris” and “Black Slave Calling the Sky” ( translated by Lin Shu ) first performed in Japan, and then returned to China to perform in places such as Shanghai and Tianjin. Promote a change in the domestic climate. Adapted from an old drama. The impact on the May Fourth Movement.
e. Vernacular sports. In 1898, Qiu Tingliang’s “Su Bao” published “On the Vernacular as the Foundation of the Reform” kicked off. Understand the meaning of writing innovation from the perspective of saving the country and the people. In 1911, the Ministry of Education of the Republic of China convened a pronunciation unification meeting and agreed on 39 phonetic letters. In 1916, the Ministry of Education established the Phonetic Alphabet Transfer Institute, and in August of the same year, Beijing established the Chinese National Language Research Association. In 1918, the Ministry of Education formally reviewed the phonetic alphabet and established a preparatory meeting for the unification of the national language. In 1919, the phonetic alphabet was re-enacted. Then, the national alphabet was published. The vernacular Mandarin movement implied the vernacular literature movement.

3. The great influence of foreign literature and culture

It can be said that without the influence of foreign literature and culture, the emergence of modern Chinese literature is unimaginable. Yan Fu (1853-1921, a native of Fuzhou, Fujian Houguan) was the first Chinese naval student sent to the United Kingdom, but he did not become a navy general but became China’s earliest ideological translator (English biologist Huxley’s ” Theory of Evolution ” And Ethics ” translated into “Tian Yan Lun” etc.). Also translated Western literature works.
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The staging is convenient for summarizing the development characteristics of modern literature, mastering its basic features, and summing up some experience and lessons from it. However, due to different understandings of the nature of modern literature, there are different opinions on the naming of the stages.
1. Development period (1917-1927). The so-called “first decade” of modern literature.
2. The harvest period (1927—1937). The so-called “second decade” of modern literature.
3. The transition period (1937-1949). The so-called “third decade” of modern literature.


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