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Modern Chinese Literature


Sabaree Mitra


Mao Zedong was a writer of his own right which fact is eclipsed by his political career, particularly as the supremo of the people’s Republic of China from 1949 to 1976. His influence on the development of Chinese literature was immense, including the negative effect of the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution which sparked off from the literary realm and targeted writers in a big way (Though the villain of the piece was his wife, Jiang Qing). The Cultural Revolution and the Anti-Rightist Movement preceding it completely killed the prospects of a refreshing idea of turning the Chinese literary realm into a garden of blooming flowers. To quote Mao’s formulation, it was “Baihua baijia, zhengming” (Let hundred flowers blown, and hundred schools contend). The letter “bai (hundred) need not be taken literally to mean the exact number indicated. It is a Chinese euphemism to mean “a lot, even “innumerable”. Thus, we see in Mao’s “hundred flowers” scheme a great vision of enlivening the Chinese literary scene, even if the destroyer of the vision was the visionary himself.

The brilliance of Mao’s “blooming garden” vision should be viewed from a historical perspective. There is a dichotomy between “Great Tradition” and “Little Tradition” in every civilization, but in China we find a creative society in literature, both written and oral (i.e. “folk” literature), on the one hand, and a very suppressive regime which frowned at writings which either threatened the ruling moral authority (mainly Confucian oriented), or were considered subversive in political content. This was the reality of “imperial China”. During the Republican period, although there was much greater literary freedom, there was not much real encouragement given to literary works from the top. The May Fourth Movement was an unprecedented freedom struggle on the part of Chinese writers to demolish the repressive regime. In fact, the Chinese communist movement was virtually a younger brother of the May Fourth Movement, albeit it overgrew its elder brother hundred times. The birth of the People’s Republic of China brought some of the erstwhile freedom fighters in literature to the position of authorities. Had Mao allowed them a free hand in developing literature, it would have ushered in an unprecedented blooming in the garden of Chinese literature. Thus, we see Mao Zedong playing a double role in the 1950s. On the one hand, as an ideological prophet and guide. he occasionally frightened literary and other creators, like its criticism on “Wu Xun Zhuan”, the film that depicted a typical Confucian good man Wu Xun. On the other hand, there was his launching of the “Two Hundred” (Hundred Flowers and hundred Schools) movement which was truly brilliant.

The Cultural Revolution (1966-1969) was followed up by another seven long years of the reign of terror by the Gang of Four leaded by Jiang Qing over Chinese writers. Following the fall of the Gang of Four and their subsequent arrest, a sense of relief was evident among the masses particularly the intellectuals and writers. It brought to the fore a renewed hope, which was strengthened by the political changes culminating in the Third Plenum of the Eleventh Central Committee of the CPC in December 978, seeing Deng Xiaoping and his associates in control of power both in the Party and in the Stale. The most important agenda of the new leadership consisted of economic development and modernization of China. This leadership was pragmatic enough to realise that if the drive for economic development and modernization was to be successful, the co-operation of the intellectuals was essential. This realization was soon reflected in the leadership’s attitude towards knowledge at-d the intellectuals who were the repository of knowledge. For instance, Deng Xiaoping’s talks and speeches delivered over 1977 and 1978 indicate that the leadership was stressing the importance of knowledge and intellectuals in general, and science and technology, and scientific and technical personnel in particular. The intellectuals, who had been the targets of all the major political campaigns during the Mao Era, were grossly demoralized and apprehensive, and therefore lacked initiative. As a result, the new leadership, some of whom were genuinely in favour of greater intellectual autonomy (even though within a given framework) started a series of confidence-building measures to engage the co-operation of the intellectures.

In the sphere of literature, the first step in this confidence-building process was the Fourth National Congress of the All-China Federation of Literary and Art Workers,[1] held jointly with the Third National Congress of Writers in October, 1979. While discussing the role of literature and art, Zhou Yang said in his report to the Congress:

“To eulogize and to expose…are the two aspects of a question. The crux of the matter is what stand to take, what to eulogize and what to expose. Literary and artistic works must portray the bright side of the life of the people and also expose the seamy side of society. Socialist literature and art perform the task of both criticism and self-criticism. We should not. criticize our enemies only but should also take a critical attitude towards ourselves and our endeavours; otherwise, we cannot make progress.”[2]

This defence of critical realism by Zhou Yang was a definite departure from Mao’s literary doctrine which was being reviewed and modified to adopt to the new socio-political environment of the post-Mao Era.

The confidence-building measures coupled with the series of changes introduced in December 1976, not only gave an impression of China moving forward but also had a far-reaching effect w) almost every sphere of Chinese intellectual life. What resulted was a comparatively favourable atmosphere for intellectual activity. The Chinese literary scene responded by displaying unprecedented vitality and variety. The literature that took shape had such new elements hitherto unseen in socialist China. These elements had a gamut of literary, social and political dimensions and thus, cannot be judged in terms of literary parameters alone. Nevertheless, these elements were so distinct that they became significant features of this new body of literature in so much that the post-Mao literature can justifiably be given the status of New Literature. Therefore, the attempt will be to first identify these new elements and then examine their social, literary or political dimension. Whereas some of these elements were common to both poetry and prose, others were distinctive characteristics of either poetry or prose.



Poetry of the realist school continued in the post-Mao era. Majority of such works and their authors remained within the limits of current literary policy. Poetry of the type which had sung for the revolution and the new socialist life during the 40s, 50s and 60s now sang for modernization. Full of didacticism, a lot of these poems were run of the mill, boring and sounded almost like rhymed political slogans. One such poem had the following lines:

“The fresh bleed of the revolutionary martyrs

is sprinkled,

In exchange for today’s new constitution,

Protect democracy, protect people’s rights,

Advance the Four Modernizations”

But starting from 1976 two new trends became prominent in poetry. The first is the poetry of protest, which emerged closely linked with the downfall of the Gang of Four and Democracy Wall, and the second being the poetry of the modernist school which has been termed “obscure poetry” (menglong shi) in China. These two streams often intermingle. Those involved in them were mostly younger writers.

During the Democracy Movement of late 1976, there was a profusion of wall posters expounding views on various political and social issues, advocating different roads of China’s development and modernization, petitioning for justice and democracy, protesting against the tyranny of the Gang of Four during Cultural Revolution and expressing hopes for the future under the new leadership. Innumerable poems appeared cm the Democracy Wall. The genesis of this poem-wave goes back to April 5th,1976, when on the occasion of the Qing Ming Festival (Pure Brightness Festival, a Chinese traditional festival of ancestor worship) a huge crowd of Chinese ordinary citizens assembled in Tiananmen Square to pay homage to me memory of the late Premier Zhou Enlai and to protest against the extremist policies of the Gang of Four. The crowd not only placed wreaths on the Hero’s Memorial, but also posted poems on the Memorial eulogizing Zhou Enlaj and his policies.

In the Democracy Movement poems were also circulated in the form of booklets and published in unofficial magazines[3] entitled Today Explorations, Grass on the plain, The People’s, Forum, The Spring of Beijing, China’s Human Rights, Science, Democracy and Law, Dandelion, Harvest, April 5th Forum etc. The concerns of these poems were more or less the same as the wall posters, but had a more vivid tone of protest and that is why these poems have often been referred to as poetry of protest. Most of these poems are not outstanding aesthetically, albeit they are replete in patriotic emotion and noble sentiments. I cite some specimens below:

(a) subtle political allegory

Trust the Future by Shi Zhi


The eyes of the people who trust in the future

Make me firmly believe in the future myself

Their eyelashes bat off the dust of history

Their pupils pierce the years of writings

No matter what people think about our rotting flesh

That sadness of a lost way, that pain of defeat

I strongly trust people fairly to assess

Our countless explorations, errors, successes,


Friend trust firmly in the future,

Trust in unyielding effort.

Trust in the victory of youth over death,

Trust the future, trust life.”[4]

(b) subtle imagery:

Frozen Land by Meng Ke

“The funeral crowd floats past, a white cloud,

Rivers slowly drag the sun.

The long, long surface of the water, dyed golden.

How silent

How vast

How pitiful

That stretch of withered flowers.”[5]

(c) with strong ideological (socialist, flavour :

An Eternity of Deeds and Misdeeds by Tai Chi


Mao Zedong

Son of the Shaoshan plain,

Giant of the Chinese Revolution.

The people praised you

The evil and crafty made you, into a god.

Demon, devil and witch,

Blocked out our sun with fog

It’s time to peel off your god like gloss

And give back to the people the leader they had.”[6]

 (d) obscure poetry:

Notes From the City of the Sun by Bei Dao




Tom scraps of paper


Millions of shining suns

are reflected in a broken mirror


Hands. Enfold the globe


A flock of sheep spill beyond the limits of their


the shepherd still plays his Same old tune.

The Motherland

She was engraved on a bronze shield

which leant against a partition in a museum.”[7]

But it is not the literary style or the aesthetic skill that set the poetry of protest apart from the mainstream of poetry in socialist China. What is most significant about them is that they symbolise a political act, politicisation popular sentiment expressed through the medium of literature. No matter what the theme of the poem was, be it the misery of people dying in cold or of hunger or love for one’s close ones or anything else, the feelings were always expressed in a greater political context. There are two aspects of this political act: (1) the need to express, and (2) the opportunity of expression.

The need to express must have been absolutely overwhelming in all walks of life all those who felt it necessary to rhyme - workers, peasants, intellectuals and so on. The poetry of protest indicates a widespread sense of anger, frustration, anguish and disillusionment as a result of a decade long Cultural Revolution compounded by numerous earlier political campaigns affecting almost every sphere of human existence. These feelings probably had reached that threshold where the very act of expressing became a need of utmost urgency. It is this urgent need that transformed socio-political consciousness into concrete spontaneous expression, thus making it a political act.

The other aspect is the point in history when consciousness was transformed into an act of expression. It was a period, which has since been named “Beijingzhi chun” (the Beijing Spring) when the stranglehold of politics became relaxed following the demise of Mao Zedong and the downfall of the Gang of Four. It was also a period when the political atmosphere was comparatively relaxed and tolerant. Therefore, free expressions in various forms, including literature, suddenly exploded which was unthinkable in the past. This combination of the long suppressed sentiments and the relaxed atmosphere became conducive to the emergence of poetry of protest.

The so-called “obscure poetry” and the controversy surrounding this genre came to the fore in 1979. In contrast to the poetry of the socialist realist school, the “obscure poetry” had the following features:

The poems were short in length, sometimes as short as one word, as in the case of ‘Life” by Bei Dao.

  Title of the poem:              “Shenghu8 (Life)

          Content of the poem:         “Wang”(Net)”[8]

They were much more symbolically subtle and indirect compared to the long poems over-burdened with explicit slogans. Many of them also possessed a crisp political allegory. e.g., Gu Cheng’s “One Generation”:

“One Generation

The black night has given me black eyes,

Yet I use them to search for light”[9]

The most impressive feature of these poems is their experimentation with images, as in Gu Cheng’s:


The sky is grey

The road is grey

The building is grey

The rain is grey

In this blanket dead grey

Two children walk by

One bright red

One pale green.”[10]

Imagism, which was considered avant-garde in the 1910s among the Anglo-American poets, was very much a part of Modernist poetry in Taiwan in 1960s. Since then, the Taiwan poetry has graduated from its modernist phase. But most of these contemporary young poets of mainland China had not been exposed (at least till 1979) to either Western or Taiwanese Imagism.[11] This seems to indicate that the modernist phase in poetry had only just begun in 1979 in socialist China -- echoing the Crescent Moon School of the 1920s and 1930s.

Apart from the concentrated colour imagery, other features of Imagism, like the montage - the juxtaposition of images or sharp, perspicuous imagery were also being employed by some young poets. While the juxtaposition of images have no explicit linguistic connection, the perspicuous imagery often jolts readers by sudden metaphoric transference. “Curve” and “A Walk in the Rain” by Gu Cheng are examples of these two methods respectively.


“A bird in the gusty wind

Deftly changes direction

A youth tries to pick up

A penny

The grapevine in fantasy

Stretches its tentacles

The Wave in retreat

Arches its back.”[12]


A Walk In The Rain


“Clouds that are grey

Can no longer be washed clean.

We open the umbrella

And simply paint the sky black”[13]

These young writers of “obscure poetry” have often been dubbed unhealthy and unpatriotic in the first place, and then, unappreciated for being obscure and difficult to understand. In an article which inaugurated the debate and criticism, a senior poet Gong Liu described these poems as “disgraceful” and “denigrating”. Referring to the following lines by Gu Cheng:

The junk in mourning

Slowly passes by

And unrolls the dark-yellow shroud.”[14]


Gong Liu commnets:

The Chinese people grow from the milk of the Yangtse and the Yellow River. Who, upon seeing these two rivers, is not proud of the glory of the motherland’s landscape? Who has ever heard of Indians disparaging the Ganges, or Egyptians the Nile? Even Americans compare the Mississippi to a motherly river.”[15]

According to him it will logically-follow that such poems are unhealthy because it is a subjective impression of the Cultural Revolution and its aftermath hence with bourgeois or petit-bourgeois individualism.

The charge of difficulty and obscurity laid by the older poets and critics is probably not so much of a criticism against difficulty but more so against their content. Because all the “obscure” poets have been concerned with the Cultural Revolution and some of their poems are as critical and political as some trends in prose, like “scar literature”. e.g., “China, My Key is lost” by Liang Xiaobin:

“China, my key is lost.

More than a decade ago,

I ran wildly along the red boulevard,

And cheered in the rural wilderness,


My key was lost

The sky is starting to rain again,

Oh my key,

Where might you be?

Wind and rain must have eroded you, I suppose,

And you are already very rusty;

No, I don’t really think so,

I want to search stubbornly,

Hoping mat I can recover you.”[16]

This is probably one of the best political poems after 1949. The political allegory is unmistakable. It has succeeded in conveying a political message, hence not obscure. There is a dark innuendo, a sense of loss and sadness and yet a strong hope. While the “scar literature” has been received positively and encouragingly, such poems have been crtticized.[17] Shu Ting’s reaction to this discriminatory treatment is:

“I believe that creative writing and literary criticism should be allies; the task force of poetry is new invading forbidden areas and is in need of artillery support... [It is not convincing] that fiction be allowed to write about the “wounds” but poetry forbidden to deal with the sighs; or to stress that everything is fine now and poets need only joyfully sing the praises of spring; or to discuss the problems of youth and condemn the depression, helplessness, and bewilderment of the young people without attacking the social factors that cause this mental state”[18]

Defence of these young poets and their works have come from Sun Shaozhen, Xie Man, Xu Jingya, Gu Cheng and Ai Qing, on the issue of free verse. Of them Sun Shaozhen is the most unorthodox and courageous. In a symposium organized by the magazine Poetry, attended by critics and representatives of well-known journals, he argued that “art has its internal laws of development” and therefore literary criticism “cannot focus just on the reflection of life and ignore the art of poetry”. In March, 1981, Sun published an article entitled “New Aesthetic Principles Are Rising”[19] in which he evaluated these so-called “obscure poetry” as indications of the rise of some new aesthetic principles in socialist China. The main points of Sun’s articles are:

·     Instead of direct glorification of life, these poets are engaged in exploring “the secrets of life already dissolved in the heart and mind”.

·     They are keen on the expression of the “self”, because they believe that “the individual should enjoy a higher status in society, since it is people as individual who creates society”. Sun regarded the sense of alienation and melancholy in some of these poems as a reflection of the distortion of human relationships, a legacy of the Cultural Revolution.

·     Contemporary poetry must change usual reading habits and liberate readers from the “stubborn grips of artistic Revolution”.

Of these, it was the second principle of Sun Shaozhen that not only touched a raw nerve but hit off a separate debate on the question ‘expression of self”. The pro-Maoist literary critics have always viewed this concept as an idea that contradicted the collective role of literature in a socialist society. On this issue, the opinion of the young poets has been most representatively elaborated upon by Gu Cheng:

‘The old kind of poetry has always propagandized about a ‘non-individual” ‘I’ or ‘self’, an ‘I’ that is self-denying and self-destructive, an ‘I’ that is constantly reduced to a grain of sand, a road-paving pebble, a cog-wheel, a steel screw. In shod, never a person, a human being who can think, doubt, and have emotions and desires.... In short, a robot, a robot ‘l’. This kind of ‘l’ may have a religious beauty of self-sacrifice, but, as an ‘I’ who has eradicated his most concrete individual being, he himself finally loses control and is destroyed. The new kind of ‘self’ is born on this heap of ruins.”[20]


The literary developments in post-Mao Chinese prose are much more complex than poetry. There are complex interactions between themes, literary styles and artistic skill that in their various intricate combinations have opened up an exciting vista unprecedented in socialist China. Needless to say that this complexity makes it difficult to classify literary works in terms of any singe given parameter. Let me try to bring out the striking features of post-Mao prose.

In the liberalized atmosphere following the fail of the Gang of Four, a new trend emerged in literature, that revealed the tyranny of the Gang of Four and the trauma suffered by people during the Cultural Revolution in particular and all past political campaigns in general. This new trend in literature, called the Scar Literature (Shanghen wenxue) were mostly written by writers in their late thirties and forties and were published in state-sponsored literary journals and newspapers. Scar Literature criticized past mistakes and exposed the darker aspects of socialist society In contrast to the officially approved ‘socialist realism” or “revolutionary romanticism” of the Mao era in which the writers were supposed to only extol the shining achievements of socialism, Scar literature saw a return to the ‘critical realism” of the May Fourth Movement tradition and thus marked a new phase in Chinese socialist literature. What is more important is the fact that whereas the “critical realism” of the May Fourth period was directed at feudal social order and political bankruptcy and compromise of the Republican government, in the Scar Literature it was directed against the past mistakes and misdeeds of a regime and system still in control of the country Not only there is no such precedence of such type of open literary expression of discontent (except of course the odd political allegories like “The Dismissal of Hai Rui from office” by Wu Han in early 1960s) but even a wave d such expression was impossible in the past. Considering the period when Scar Literature dominated the scene, the causes of its emergence were of course the same as those of protest poetry.

The Scar Literature was named so after the short story called “Scar”[21] by Liu Xinhua. It portrays me story of a young woman who is forced to abandon her “counter-revolutionary” parents during Cultural Revolution and who in turn is abandoned by the young man she loves because of her tainted family background. Following the publication of “Scar”, many real-life stones of family tragedy were printed as fiction all over the country. For the most part of 1977 and 1978, Chinese literature was dominated by Scar Literature with broadening themes depicting many aspects of psychological and emotional wounds suffered by the people in the past. Scar Literature came to be the symbol of popular anger directed at the Gang of Four and past campaigns and political persecutions.

One feature that was common in Scar Literature was a kind of formula of a victim, wrongly accused during the Cultural Revolution or at some earlier political campaign, (he victim’s steadfast belief in socialism and love of motherland in spite of persecution, the extent of persecution. attack on extremist political belief and its inhuman treatment of people and veiled attack on Mao’s theory of continuous class struggle. Most of the works suffer from lack of subtlety. As in the case of Dai Houying’s “Man, Oh Man!”[22] (Ren Ah Ren) in which the author was too eager to proclaim the cause of humanism to avoid naked accusations. This work like many others in the post-Mao period, became famous not so much for its merits but for the authors courage and official disapproval. Some noteworthy works of Scar Literature are ‘The Homeroom Teacher” by Lio Xinwu, “The Transcript” by Liu Jinlan, “Three Professors” by Cao Guanlong, “The Gap” by Lao Hong, “At middle age” by Shen Rong and “Man, Oh, Man” by Dai Houying.  In the first phase, criticism was limited to the past experience and almost all the “scar” stories expressed hope and confidence in the future under the new leadership. But, they gradually extended to other issues like mindless dogmatism, abuse of power and privilege, corruption, prison conditions and so on. Encouraged by the call of the Third Plenum of the Eleventh Central Committee in December, 1979, in which writers and intellectuals were urged to “liberate thought”, the dimension of venting suppressed complaints grew wider and wider. So much so that a literary exploration got underway in 1979 to probe into soda1 problems beyond the making of the Gang of Four.

The literature published from 1979 to mid-1981 has been called “New Realism Literature” by Helen F.  Siu and Zelda Sterns.[23]

This “New Realism Literature”, like the Scar Literature, was published in state-sponsored literary magazines. What differentiated “New Realism Literature” from Scar Literature was that it dealt with issues of the post-Mao Chinese society and in terms of exposure, it was much more daring and specific. The “New Realism Literature” has sometimes been referred to as “exposure literature” in China and by the very implication of the term, includes not only the extended Scar Literature but critique of social abnormalcy, e.g. plays like ‘If I were Real[24] and film scripts “In the Archives of the Society”[25] and ‘Unrequited Lover”,[26] in addition to a, host of reportage. Maoist orthodoxy had sanctioned “exposure” only in the case of the enemy and therefore this kind of “exposure” is politically incorrect by the standard of the Chinese socialism, thus placing this new genre in the position of undesirable rebellion. There was a visible watershed, if not Great Divide, between the ‘socialist realism” and ‘critical realism” in Chinese literature.

Here is a question of exposing and reforming from within which may be analyzed in the context of Engels’ evaluation of Balzac. Engels concluded, “That Balzac thus was compelled to go against his own class sympathies and political prejudices, that he saw the necessity of the downfall of his favourite nobles and described them as people deserving no better fate...that I consider

one of the greatest triumphs of Realism...”[27] This means that, in spite of a writer’s class interest, his truthful portrayal can result in underlining certain shortcomings and wrong tendencies in his own class. This is something which can possibly happen under realism, a style that has been viewed as supreme in traditional Marxist literary thought. Therefore, the “exposure” that results from truthful portrayal by writers of extended Scar Literature (dealing with post-Mao socio-political issues), is nothing but a classic case of literature performing its rightful rote. Shaped by a special form of social consciousness, literature, in turn, is trying to influence social reality by revolving against certain unacceptable tendencies in the system.

Reportage (Baogao wenxue) is a journalistic report written in literary style and based on true events and concrete facts. The pace-setter of this style undoubtedly was Liu Binyan. His “Between Monsters and Men”[28] was a pioneering work that exposed the corruption within the party with stark vividness. It earned him immense popularity for his unflinching courage in using literature to redress social and political injustice. “Between Monsters and Men” has since then been regarded as a landmark in the resurgence of Critical Realism.

Equally remarkable is the play ‘If I were Real”which deals with the sensitive issue of nepotism and abuse of power by the party officials, while the film script “Unrequited Love” portrays the honor of deification and Mind dogmatism that tramples humanism and patriotism under foot. Hu Yaobang while admitting that writers had a right to be concerned with real problems, criticized ‘If I were Real for choosing an exception to generalise about the Party and thus for giving an incorrect perspective.[29] “Unrequited Love” was criticized in April 1981, two years after its first publication. The author was charged with the violation of “Pour Cardinal Principles” and with unfavourable comparison of socialist China with capitalist America.[30] Criticism of  Unrequited Love” was the first hint of the campaign against ‘bourgeois liberalization” in literature and art that was to come later.

An important concern that surfaced in Chinese literature in the first half of 1980s involved questions of universal human nature, humanism and alienation. The theme of universal human nature came to be manifested as a more humanised interpretation of Marxism which acknowledged me existence of nobleness and compassion in politically “wicked” characters. Qn the other hand, humanism was portrayed by characters that were humane towards their “class enemies” and recognized the human qualities of the “class enemies”. This kind d exploration of complex human nature is reminiscent of the “middle man” theory of early 1960s in China when Shao Quanlin, Zhou Yang, Zhao Shuli and others advocated characters of flesh and Mood who would have their inner contradictions and defects of character in spite of their faith in Communist ideology. Here is a typical observation:

“Even characters who treat Communist ideology as the highest principle have inner contradictions and inner defects.... We must not shirk the difficulties...of contradictions and struggles in life.... Cheap optimism can only oversimplify life.”[31]

In the experimentation to study the multiple facets of human nature and human situations, many works written in the first half of 1990s were crude in skill and contrived in plots. Typical of this trend are Li Yingru’s “Miaoqing”, Zhang Xiaotian’s ‘Luxuriant Grass on the plain”, Yu Mei’s “A, man...”, Liu Xinwu’s “Ruyi” and Li Ping’s “when the Last Rays of the Sun Grew Dim”.

Though some of these works generated a lot of controversy after their publication and were criticized as unhealthy, they expressed a certain optimism concerning human nature. Other works of this period focussed on distorted humanity and alienated existence of individuals and in so doing made use of “psychological realism” to bare thoughts and consciousness of the characters. There is a certain parallel between the prose of this kind and “obscure poetry” both in literary style and in the treatment of themes. These prose pieces, like most obscure poetry, grasp the complexities of the inner feeling with a subtle sophistication.

The best in this category are “On the Same Horizon”[32] and “Dreams of My Age-group”[33] by Zhang Xinxin.  By the astute use of imagery and symbolism, she relentlessly excavated the inner world of individuals and complexities of relationships. Though, she denies being a Modernist, her style and method are reminiscent of Western modernism.

Around the time when the concerns like human nature, humanism and alienation were emerging as a trend in literature, some literary theoretician like Wang Ruoshui had started discussing the relevance of these concepts in contemporary China. Wang Ruoshui was of the opinion that alienation can exist in a socialist society as well as a capitalist society. Apart Iran being influenced by Western and Eastern European Marxists, Wang based his arguments on Marx’s early writings and said that alienation can exist in any system that produces forces which oppress people. He argued the Chinese socialist system since 1949 had produced personality cult, irrational economic policies bureaucratic indifference, corruption, privileges, selfish individualism, all of which had diminished human worth, alienation was inborn, He called for an ideological change to counter the repressive dehumanized manifestations of socialist China, which in turn would end alienation, He said “it is highly necessary to prevent these servants of the people transforming themselves into masters of the people”.[34] In this call for revival of humanism, he regarded alienation as a negative manifestation in the socialist system which normally should have enhanced human worth. He also added that principles for revival of humanism could be found in Marxism and thus reiterated his faith in socialism. In other words, he stressed the need to reject the orthodox model of socialism, one that was established in Soviet Union and China where all the initiatives always came from top. Because “not every word and deed of the leaders absolutely and undoubtedly conforms to the people’s interests” and ‘leaders sometimes can make mistakes”.[35]

Wang Ruoshui’s perceptions on humanism and alienation must have been shared by numerous writers who composed “obscure poetry” or produced works like ‘On the Same Horizon’. It seems that when Wang analyzed the complex social phenomenon in a theoretical framework was perceived by these young practitioners of literature as they ‘tried to mirror their living experiences. An interesting thing to note is the fact that some of these very young writers themselves are somewhat alienated from the system and thus illustrated the negative dehumanizing manifestations spelt out by Wang Ruoshui. The significance of Wang’s argument on the existence of alienation in socialist society is that it indicates the emergence of a new class within a supposedly classless society and the polarization of the society, creating a ruling elite which has become indifferent towards the masses and divorced from their interest. In their eagerness to assume the role of the guardians of socialism, they simply intoxicated themselves in the wine of priviledge, putting the people out of their minds.

This concern for humanism and alienation by both theoreticians like Wang Ruoshui and literary practitioners like the “Scar” writers and the implications of some negative manifestation as analyzed by them resulted in their becoming the targets of the Campaign against Spiritual Pollution launched in late 1983. Meetings were held all over the country, articles were published in leading newspapers and journals, castigating “spiritual pollution” that included not only the alienation discourse but also concepts such as modernism, individualism, existentialism etc. People who were associated with these concepts, either through theoretical analysis or literary expression, were deemed to have wanted to undermine orthodox ideology with “degenerated” Western ideas,

Incidentally, the post-Mao period and the Reform-induced free economy resulted in a marked increase in erotic demerits and sexual themes in Chinese literature which was immediately frowned upon by the conservatives in the Party. Depiction of sexual relations and erotic scenes, however, were largely hidden in lyrical euphemism and in most works they were only subservient to socio-political themes.

Apart from the comeback of “yellow literature” which had taken a long vacation out of Mao’s China, some of these works gave a wide variety of survey of status of women in traditional and contemporary Chinese society in terms of women’s sexual dependence on men their social conditioning linked to this dependence.  Some works of this genre worth mentioning are “Chastee Women” by Gu Hua, “A Long Night in Spring” by Ye Nan, “Madam Hel” and “Tiangou by Jia Ping’ao ‘and “Woman is the other half

of Man” by Zhang Xianliang. Of these, the works by Jia Ping’ao and Zhang Xianliang have succeeded in taking a more objective and sensitive view, of the issues raised rather than flippantly sensationalising the potentially sensational themes. Specially the “Woman is the Other half of Mari”[36] has taken an integrated look at the human reality, leaving behind an interesting study of psychological realism even after the immediate social-political relevance is completely exhausted.

Needless to say that these issues must have existed in the Chinese society for a long time. In socialist China as love could be portrayed only by shared political belief and revolutionary enthusiasm until some years back, the general notion of sex could only be implied under me canopy of marriage. The fact that these issues were finally brought out boldly into the open literature can probably be attributed to (a) a conscious admission that such issues are social phenomena, and (b) an exposure to a variety of sociological concepts which could be identified with the contemporary social reality and through foreign literature and academic readings. Of course, the comparatively relaxed intellectual climate where such themes could be given expression is a decisive factor, The re-emergence of such themes is significant because it is linked with the continuous effort of the writers to broaden the scope of literature.

Another trend during 1985-86, was the preoccupation with innovation and technique. The inspiration for this trend could be a changed perception of human existence, i.e., human existence could be perceived not only in the framework of socio-political environment, as was the case so far since May Fourth Movement, but also in individualistic and psychological frame of reference. It is this changed perception which in turn may have emerged in the form of subjectivity, and irrationality and a yearning for the exotic, Mention must be made of “Ah Mei in Pensive Mood on a Sunny Day and “My Affairs in That World” by Can Xue, “you Have no Choice” and “Blue Skies and Green Seas” (specially mentioned for the technical innovations) by Liu Suola, “Coming-Going Back” and “Woman, Woman, Woman” by Han Shaogong. “King of Trees” and ” Winds and Streams Everywhere” by Ah Cheng and “Scarlet Sorghum” by MO Yan. Though the trend in general is a revolt against realism, the works are too few and diverse to be placed under a single genre. Some of these works have been acclaimed. However, innovations in general have been received with little enthusiasm by most, including the liberals.

I should say that this trend of the subjective, illogical and irrational perceptions of human existence was reminiscent of certain features of “obscure poetry”. Like “obscure poetry”, this kind of expression of “self” is symbolic of a rejection of the past (both in terms of society and literature) and of the alienated distorted existence in the present.

The debate on the concept of alienation exploded again when Liu Binyan’s “The Second Kind of Loyalty”[37] was published in 1985. In this work of reportage, Liu contrasted the loyalty of Lei Feng brand which unquestioningly followed the dictum of the Party and Mao in everything and, in Liu’s report, his two protagonists dissented with the Party and Mao for the cause of the society.  It was unprecedented in Communist Chinese literature that approbation for dissidence emerged. Liu projected his protagonists to be loyal to the motherland, the society and even the Party, who fearlessly criticized the Party leadership for their shifting political line not always in conformity with the ideology. Like their literati predecessors, Liu’s protagonists wrote letters to the leadership admonishing them for leading the country to disaster: “For the last time I give you most sincere advice.... I think the Central Committee...has committed a series of mistakes, and many of them are mistakes in prcinciple....The main me IS the worship of the individual or what is called the cult of the individual”[38]. Dirrectly petitioning to Mao, me of the protagonists said: “you do not permit others to criticize your shortcomings and mistakes...in the course of time, those who will be left around you will be a group of villains holding sway.... I am extremely worried about the destiny of the Party and state. With feelings of utmost sincerity.... I hope you will distance yourself from petty men and bring men of noble character close to yourself”.[39] The conclusion reached by Liu Binyan was whereas unquestioning obedience only strengthened a repressive system, sincere criticism of politically engaged intellectuals must expose the injustice that is being done in the name of politics and must speak up for the redressal of people’s grievances. In doing so, these intellectuals would show a kind of loyalty that was infinitely more desirable for the welfare of the society, the country and even the party.

Around the same time as the second controversy on alienation, another formulation that generated debate was Liu Zaifu’s views on vulgar sociology. In a series of articles published over late 1985 and early 1996, Liu discussed the importance of individual consciousness and subjectivity in literature and art. Liu zaifu’s arguments were based m the contention that the worth of literature cannot be judged only m the basis of society’s economic and political conditions, but, more importantly, in terms of coherence and originality of writers which were products of individual consciousness and subjective projection. He argued that of economic and political conditions became the only parameters of evaluating literature or in other words, if literature was evaluated on the scale of literary theories that concentrated on the external laws, it would amount to subsuming individual consciousness- and that would be anti-art.[40] Liu further argued that people, who are the raw material of literature, are complex in all their contradictory preoccupations, dilemma, obsessions and fantasies and can not be analyzed in a simplistic frame of reference like socio-economic relations and to do so would be nothing but “vulgar sociology”[41] Therefore, to comprehend the complex reality with its innumerabe human facets, the artists and writers need to do more than logical reasoning and in this regard inspiration and imagination are relevant and necessary in creative writing. Liu Zaifu, thus, not only struck a powerful Mow against Mao’s Yanan Forum Talks on literature, But also refused to make any concession to the concept of “socialist realism”.

Beginning early 1986, when Llu Zaifu was criticized for his views on Vulgar sociology”, there were indications of a campaign in the offing. By September, the Sixth Plenum of the CPC’s Twelfth Congress was convened and it passed a set of guidelines for the “construction of socialist spiritual civilization”. This probably was the beginning of the campaign against “bourgeois liberalization” which was launched in early 1987, right after a series of student demonstrations in December, 1986. Many leading political and literary figures were severely criticized, and though in much milder terms than in the past during the Mao era, they were upbraided by either resignation, expulsion or removal from editorial posts. Most writers protested by remaining silent and literature, both quantitatively and qualitatively, went into a slide for the whole of 1987.

In the years from 1983 to 1986, the Chinese intellectuals had become intensely interested in Chinese “culture”. In the literary realm, it came to be known as a “searching-for-roots fever”. The other side of this root-searching was criticism of not only traditional Chinese culture, but also of Chinese intellectual character. The criticism of Chinese national character was embodied in the view held by an increasing number of liberal Chinese intellectuals that the root of China’s political problems lies in China’s historical tradition. What followed was a conscious need to discover new cultural concepts and ideals that would revitalize China at all fronts. With me ongoing “Open-Door Policy” and exposure to the West, the intellectuals naturally looked for answers in Western concepts and -isms. Their search included philosophy, literature, art and social sciences and came up with a mind-boggling variety. In literature the range was from stream-of-consciousness, modernism, futurism to New Criticism, structuralism, post-structuralism and post-modernism. The whole scene was stimulating, though somewhat superficial.

This culture fever culminated in the creation of a six-part television serial called “River Elegy[42] (He Shang). According to this serial, virtually all of China’s contemporary problems stemmed from Chinese tradition. Presenting a parable on the past, present and future of China, it argued that the Yellow River, symbolic of Chinese civilization and culture, is dead and advocated that for any further progress of the Chinese people, this inwardly focused Yellow River Civilization must emerge out of its constrained existence and embrace the open Blue Ocean, symbolic of modem Western culture. Though consciously praising China’s current efforts of reform, it held China’s socialist present, jointly with traditional past, responsible for the drowning of China.

The agenda put forward by “River Elegy” was to form a “class” composed of the broad majority of Chinese public, who, with the initiative of a young generation of progressive democracy-minded officials and rational market-oriented entrepreneurs, will drive China forward towards modernity, As the Harvard Professor Tu Weiming sums up:

The “River Elegy” was a cultural essay, intended to serve the dual purpose of articulating the impatience of the young and exposing the inertia of the octogenerian orthodox idaofogists.“[43]

With the commentary written by a team of talented young reformers led by Su Xiaokang, the serial gave way to an anti-traditional wave followed by an unprecedented cultural debate: “Whither China?”

This controversial serial jolted the whole nation. Apart from a common complaint that it “forgot the ancestors” i.e., it took insufficient pride in Chinese tradition, the popular response was generally positive within the obvious limitation of the ordinary masses not being much exposed to intellectual debate and discourse. On the other hand, the officially inspired criticism denounced the wholesale Westernization propagated by the serial. At once, there was a warmth of perplexed and variegated response from the Chinese intellectuals. There was even a schizophrenia in the official reaction with the majority of Party veterans singing disapproval while the Party General Secretary, Zhao Ziyang, was said to be elated. The serial was withdrawn from public viewing for a year, and was re-telecast in 1988. There was so much confusion that Li Zehou, one of the initiators of culture fever, not only dissociated himself from the views taken by “River Elegy”, but also indicated a new direction for the search for the roots of present problems:” I do not believe that the key problem, as of now, is the so-called culture or “enlightenment”, but reform of the political-economic system. Those people who are opposed to ‘tradition” so vehemently have covered up precisely this point. The implication of their excessive criticism of “culture” is to say that the fault lies equally with all of us. This, in turn, tends to exonerate those who really should bear responsibility. There is no way I can believe that the fault lies more with us than with them. The problem before us is how to reform our extremely irrational, feudalistic, and copiously flawed system.”[44]

Another similar epic serial “Sunrise in the Heart was in the making to commemorate the 70th anniversary of the May Fourth Movement, but never saw the daylight in the aftermath of the Tiananmen Square Incident in 1989.

Although quantitatively speaking post-Mao Chinese literature has been dominated by realism of the Deep Realist School (in which Critical Realism has emerged as a force to reckon with), there has been same exciting and stimulating experimentation with technique. Some of these experiments have been successful in that these innovations have enriched and more importantly, managed to create a comprehensiveness in a given literary work consiously balancing between and mutually complementing the theme and technique. There are also works in which the writer has been so preoccupied with technical innovations that they made stiltedly difficult reading. Nevertheless, the exploration itself was path-creating conducive to the enrichment of Chinese literature.

Some of the Chinese literary critics have distinguished between (1) those works which have realistic contents, but has used certain modernist techniques, and (2) works which are more modernist both in terms of content and method.[45]

(1) In this category, modernist techniques like stream-of-consciousness, symbolism and impressionism have often been used by many well-known writers like Wang Meng, Zong Pu, Deng Gang and Zhang Xinxin. This is the category which probably forms the major share of post-Mao Chinese literature that are not within the limits of Deep Realist School. This category has been called the Open Realist School in China.

Wang Meng’s experimentation with the stream-of-consciousness technique is remarkable in the fact that it helps to vividly convey the richness and the rapidly changing of life. In “Kite Streamers”, Wang Meng describes two young lovers who have nowhere to go, nowhere they can meet undisturbed. The description is given by an outside narrator:

‘Look, look, and a whole night is used up. Our vast and boundless sky and land, our magnificent three dimensional space - is there any comer for the young people to talk, embrace and kiss? We only need a very small place.

And you - you have mom for towering heroes and earthshaking rebels, for vermin and villains that besmear heaven and earth, for so many battlefields,...meeting grounds, execution grounds...but you have no room for the passionate love between Susu and Jiayuan: One 160 centimetres tall and weighing 48 kilograms: the other barely 170 centimetres in height and weighing 54 kilograms.”[46]

In this humorous description, the writer juxtaposes a series of images and enables the readers to perceive an ordinary aspect of the as an intense subjective experience. At the same time the narrative is rooted in visual images of a typically Chinese setup. Thus, this experimentation is successful because the use of this technique does not make the author lose Hs grip on the reality of Chinese life. In Wang Meng’s own words:

“When we write about psychology, feelings, and consciousness we have not forgotten that they are reflections of life: we have not forgotten their social significance. It is just that we hope to be able to write with “exceptional insight” and with more depth, more distinctive characteristics, more “flavour”. For all these reasons, our “stream-of-consciousness” is not a stream-of-consciousness that urges people to escape reality by an inward flight; it is rather a healthy and substantial self-feeling that urges people to face born the objective and the subjective worlds, to love life and to love human heart.”[47]

Similarly Zhang Xinxin’s works, which are reminiscent of Western modernism because of the techniques she used, are also rooted in contemporary Chinese urban life. In “On the Same Horizon”, she has made use of symbolism and imagery to portray the love-hate relationship of a young couple. Through the exposure of social and psychological complexity with the help of such symbolism like a football match, a track race and a boxing contest etc. She mirrrored the ruthless struggle for survival in large cities where not even the near and dear can be trusted.

Writers like Wang Meng, zhang Xinxin and others, who have used new techniques and innovations of the modernist school, have actually managed to open a new vista in Chinese realist tradition because their borrowing from modernism has been used as means to depict the complex reality of present-day China with deeper insight. Moreover, such techniques have helped to produce literary works that are sociological commentaries of fast-changing China.

(2) This category more or less conforms to the Modernist school. Apart from using modernist techniques and methods, they also reflect abnormal relationships between men and women, the individual and society material environment and nature, and distorted psychology, pessimism and nihilism caused by such relationships - the concerns which are generally associated with Western Modernist literature. Pioneers in this category are Can Xue, MoYan, Liu Suola, Xu Xttg and Han Shaogang. Most of these writers are pessimistic and disillusioned with the world they live and the writer’s individual subjectivity or subjective impression of their surroundings are represented in symbols and imagery.

The works of Can Xue are remarkable in that the realistic conventions such as characterisation, social setting and plot are not met. Can Xue’s images are mostly linked with filth, death, destruction and darkness. For example in her “Ah Mei in Pensive Mood on a sunny day” Ah Mei notices only pimples and bad breaths of the people around her. The surrounding is depicted as grimy, rickety and infested with worms. Can Xue not only shatters normal human tenderness but also the illusions about many social institutions like family and marriage. Her techniques and her vision of the world and society are mutually suited in that the techniques (e.g., negative imagery and symbols) are not displayed as mere tools, they complement and enhance the depiction of her vision.

On the other hand, in some works techniques and technical innovations are too dominant. For example, in “You Have No Choice”, the innovations are set-conscious and over-emphasised. As a result, the pictures it projects of some alienated, confused youth sound over-written and insincere. So much so that one Chinese literary critic has to say the following about this work:

“It satirizes the atmosphere of campus life.... The whole conception is disorderly with casual touches of colour, abrupt dialogue, hysterical screams and such cynical ideas as dropout.... There is neither plot nor typical characters nor events, only a recklessly presented, restless world. The story betrays a marked influence, and one might even say is simply a stylistic imitation, of the American black-humour writer Joseph Heller.”[48]

Summing up the Chinese literary scene in the post-Mao period can conclude that in the first place, the New Literature is indicative of fundamental changes in the milieu from which it rises - both in terms of social reality and social consciousness that shape literature. Today problems of alienation crisis of faith, diminished human value as a result of authoritarian state and orthodox ideology, abuse of power and privilege, problems of social and human relations etc., are all acknowledged social reality. Acknowledged, because they have been publicly discussed at some point or the other and since they are acknowledged they are a part of social consciousness. Some of these problems did exist in the Mao era as well but were never tackled openly either in public discussion and debate or in literature. Secondly, since such social consciousness is being expressed in literature, it can be said, that social conscience is shaping contemporary literature. Literature, in turn, by raising these social issues, is trying to influence social reality from which it emerges - exposing the undesirable and unacceptable trends and calling for change, Thirdly, approach of writers, literary theoreticians and critics towards literature and literary criticism signifies a conscious revolt against old dogmas and Mao’s literary doctrines. Because, the people associated with literature are redefining the role of literature, yardsticks of literary criticism and literature itself. In other words, they are striving for true literature (in its variety and sincerity) in contrast with the false controlled literature of the past, which, if analyzed in the framework of Trotsky’s literary thought, was so tarnished (with exceptions of course) that it had ceased to be literature at all. This redefinition, in turn is giving rise to new aesthetic principles and taste. Fourthly efforts of this joint body of literary practitioners at redefining the various aspects of the literary process, are signification reformulating the relation between literature and politics. In post-Mao China, literature is not as subservient to politics as in the past, It can be tentatively said that now literature is serving the cause of society and country and people who compose of this society both individuals and as a collective. In this service to the people, literature is sometimes unbridled and definitely unconstrained by orthodox ideology and dogmatic politics. This may be the first hint of universal human culture to be created in distant future. Fifty, this New Literature, with unprecedented scope, is indicative of a comparatively strong-willed, independent body of writers, who are not so much controlled by official dictum in their creative undertaking, More and more writers today are venturing into areas that are still forbidden, This does not necessarily mean that they are opposed to socialism or want to overthrow socialism. On the contrary, the majority of such writers are stepping across the forbidden line either by being true to reality or by choosing themes that are frowned down upon, because they believe in Liu Binyan’s brand of the second kind of loyalty. By acting as the conscience of the system, they are trying to reform, repair and revitalize from within. In other words, rather than starting from political and ideological convictions which resulted in literature of the socialist realist kind, they are letting the mirror of literature truthfully reflect life and judge the shortcomings of the system.

[1] For proceedings of the Congress and speeches delivered, see Wenti Bao (Literary Gazette), nos.ll-i&1979, pp. 8-26.

[2] Zhou Yang, “Our Lessons and Tasks Ahead”, Beijing Review, no. 50, 14 December 1979, p. 10. This article being the excerpts of Zhou Yang’s speech to the Congress.

[3] The unofficial press published 84 individual issues of 27 titles of which some 12 titles were published regularly between November 1978 to 4 May 1979

[4] Published for the first time in Today, no. 2, p. 6. However, the poem was originally written around 1970/l, Translation taken from David S.G. Goodman, Beijing Street Voices: The Poetry and politics of China’s Democracy h4ovemenf, London, 1981, pp. 139

[5]  5 Published in Today, no. 1, p. 267. Translation as in David S.G. Goodman, op. cit., p. 98.

[6] Published in Harvest, no. 1, p. 267. Translation as in David S.G. Goodman, op. cit., pp. 77-78.

[7] Published in Today, no. 3, p. 38. Translation as in David S.G. Goodman, op. cit., pp. 115-16.

[8] Published in Today, no. 3. p. 38. Translations as in William, Tay, “Obscure Poetry”: A Controversy in Post-Mao Chine” in Jeffrey C. Kinkley (ed.), Affer Mao: Chinese Literature and Society, 1978-81, London, 1985, p. 136.

[9] Quoted in Shi tansuo, 3:49 (1981). Translation taken from Kinkley, op. cit., p. 134.

[10] Shikan, 10:28 (1980). Translation taken from Kinkley, op. cit., p.136.

[11] As mentioned in Shikan, 10: 49-51 (MO), Gu Cheng’s father Gu Gong testified that Gu Cheng has not been exposed to either Crescent School or Western modernism.

[12] Shikan, 1029 (1980). Translation as in Kinkley, op. cit., p. 138.

[13] Shikan, 10. 28 (1980). Translation taken from Kinkley, op. cit.. p. 140.

[14] Xingxing 1, 1979. As cited in Kinkley, op. cit., p.141.

[15] Wenyi Bao, 16: 19-20 (August 1981). As cited by Kinkley, op. cit, p. 142.

[16] Translation as in Kinkley, op. tit, p.143.

[17] Shi fansoo, 1:56 (1981) As cited by Kinkley, op. cit., p. 145.

[18] Shikan, 12: 4 (1980). As cited in Jeffrey C. Kinkley (ed.). op. cit., p. 146

[19] This article was published in Shikan, 3: 55-58 (1981).

[20] Quoted in Shi tansuo, 1: 52 (1981). Translation as cited in Kinkley, op. cit., p. 147.

[21] Liu Xinhua, “Shang hen”; Wenhui bao 11, August 1978. It has been translated as the Wounded” in Lee and Barme, The Wounded (Hong Kong: Joint Publishing Co., 1979). 

[22] Though this work is one of the best example of ‘scar literature’, it was published, much after the initial wave of ‘scar literature’ in 1980.

[23] Helen P. Siu, and Zelda, Stem, Mao’s Harvest, Voices from China’s New Generation. New York, 1983, Introduction, p. xliii.

[24] Sha Yexin, Li Shoucheng and Yao Mingde, “Jiaru Wo shi Zhende”, special issue of Xiju yishu (Art of Drama) and Shanghai xiju (Shanghai Drama) (Shanghai, 1979).

[25] Wang Jing, “Zai shehui de dang’an li”, Dianying chuangmo (Film creation), no. 10, 1979, pp. 22-13

[26] Bai, Hua and Peng Ning, “Kulian”, Shiyue (October), no. 3,1979, pp . 140-71, 248.

[27] Marx: & Engels, “On Literature and Art”, Progress Publishers, Moscow, 1978, p. 92.

[28] Liu Binyan. “Ren Yao Zhijian”, Renmin wenxue (People’s literature), no. 9, 1979, pp. 83-102.

[29] The talk by Hu Yaobang has been published in Wenyi Bao, no. 1, 1981. pp. 2-10.

[30] The Bai Hua case has been discussed in detail in Richard Kraus, ‘Bai Hua: The Political Authority of a Writer” in Carol Lee Hamrin and Timothy Cheek (ed.), China’s Establishment Intellectuals, M. E. Sharp, 1986. Also sea “Film and Politics: Bai Hua’s Bitter Love”, in Jonathan D. Spence, Chinese Roundabout, W. W. Norton & Co. Inc. 1992.

[31] Zhou Yang, “The Path of Our Country’s Socialist Literature and Art in China”, Renmin Ribao, 4 September 1960. pp. 5-7. As cited in Merle Goldman, China’s Intellectuals: Advise and Dissent, Cambridge, Mass., Harvard University Press, 1981, p. 46.

[32] Zhang Xintin, “Zai tong yi dipingxian”, Shouhuo (Harvest), no. 6, 1981, pp. 172.233.

[33] Zhang Xinxin, “Women zhege nianji de meng”. Shouhuo, no. 4, 1982, pp. 95-120.

[34] Wang Ruoshui’s speech, 15 August 1979, published in his collected essays, “Wei rendaozhuyi bianhu” (In defense of humanism), Beijing, 1986, p. 16. As cited in Lowell Dittmer and Samuel S. Kim (ad.), China’s Quest for National Identify, Ithaca, Cornell University Press, 1993, p. 139. 

[35] Ibid., p. 13. As cited in Dittmer and Kim, op. cit., n. 36, p. 139.

[36] Zhang Xianliang, “Nanren de yiban shi nuren” (The half of a man is woman), Shouhuo, no. 5, 1985, pp. 4-102,

[37] Liu Binyan, ‘Dierzhong zhongcheng” (The Second Loyalty), Kailuo (Explorer), March 1985.

[38] Zhongguo Baokan (Chinese Journals), 18 February 1985, in JPRS, no. 1 86-m, 15 January 1986, p. 36

[39] Ibid.

[40] Liu Zaifu. “Lun wanxuede Zhutixing” (On Literature’s Subjectivity), Wenxue Pingun (Literary Criticism), no. 6. 1985, pp. 1 l-26; no. 1, 1986, pp. 3-19.

[41] Liu Zaifu, “Lun renwude erchong xingge zuhe yuanli” (The Theory of Composition of Forces in Dual Personality), Wenxua Pinglun, no. 3. 1984, pp. 24-40, 141.

[42]  “River Elegy” was a six-part VI feature document first screened in 1987, and again in summer 1988. Transcript of the narration is available in Cui, Wenhua (Ed.), Heshang lun (On “River Elegy”), Beijing, 1988.

[43] Tu Weiming, “Intellectual Effervescence in China”, Dedalus, Vol. 121, no. 2, Spring 1992, p. 262.

[44] Li Zehw. “Wusida shishifeifei” (The May Fourth Movement: Its Rights and Wrongs As Commentators see), Wanbui Baa (Wenhui Daily) Shanghai, 28 March 1989, p. 4. As cited in Dittmer and Kim, op. cit.. p. 146.

[45] Miao Junjie, “A Preliminary Study of Literary Schools in the New Era”, Chinese Literature, Winter 1988. p. 180

[46] Wang Meng, “Kite Streamers”, Beijing Wenyi (Beijing Literature and Art), no. 5, 1980, p. 11. Translation taken from Lee, Lao Oufan

“The Politics of Technique: Perspective of Literary Dissidence in Contemporary Chinese Fiction” in Kinkley, op. cit., p. 167.

[47] Wang Meng, “An Open Letter on ‘Stream-of-consciousness’  (translated by Michael S. Duke), Modem Chinese Literature, Vol 1, no.1, September 1984, p. 28.

[48] Miao Junjie. op. cit., p, 185..

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© 1998 Indira Gandhi National Centre for the Arts, New Delhi

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