Decadence and Revolution in Café: On the Cosmopolitanism/ Internationalism and Modernity of Tian Han’s Works in the 1920s

Vol. 45 No. 4   12/2015  


Decadence and Revolution in Café: On the Cosmopolitanism/Internationalism and Modernity of Tian Han’s Works in the 1920s


Lo, Man-chi









Key words

Tian Han, cafés, cosmopolitanism, internationalism, modernity


      Tian Han 田漢 (1898-1968) studied in Tokyo for six years, from 1916 to 1922. His sojourn in Japan became an important starting point for his literary life. Cafés were his favorite and most-frequented places during this period. His various works in the 1920s, such as poems, novels, essays, stage plays, films, and literary critiques, all include scenes in cafés to a greater or lesser extent. These works can be the source for understanding both his artistic view and life in the 1920s. This paper first examines the relationship of Tian Han to Tokyo’s cosmopolitanism and internationalism in the Taisho Period 大正時期. It then investigates the literary interactions which took place in cafés between Tian Han and members of the Creation Society 創造社. Lastly, two of Tian Han’s most important stage plays and films, A Night at the Café 《咖啡店之一夜》 and V Narod 《到民間去》, are studied from the perspective of café culture, Russian writers, and the “new women.” Based on these analyses, this paper reevaluates the transformation of Tian Han’s literary life and the formation of Chinese modernity.



Author: Lo, Man-chi
Genre: Article