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Tsing Hua Journal of Chinese Studies
ISSN 0577-9170; DOI 10.6503/THJCS


1905, 1955, 2005 Three Moments of Modern Chinese Literature

Vol. 36 No. 2   12/2006    


1905, 1955, 2005 Three Moments of Modern Chinese Literature


David Der-wei Wang









Key words



       This essay examines the dynamics of modern Chinese literature by looking into three moments: 1905, 1955 and 2005. 1905 appeared to be one of the inchoate moments that set the tone of the politics of literature in subsequent decades. 1955 marked the heyday of antagonism (as well as unlikely dialogue) between the two Chinese regimes in literary and cultural production. While 2005 may appear to have been “a year of no significance," a question can be asked: To what extent can one say the specters of 1905 and 1955 have dissipated, or have never left?

       By setting the literary phenomena of 1905, 1955, 2005 side by side, I have no intention to reinstate the laws of historical causality. In sharp contrast to such a mechanícal notíon, I look for clues and traces that would enable us to recogníze anew the complex voices ín the formatíon of modern Chinese literature. I propose that Chinese literary modernity does not take place wíth a single formula, for an elite group of writers and readers, or at a sanctioned historical moment. Modernity indicates not a mythical telos but a historical re-positioníng. Only when one is aware of the multiple temporal zones played out against each other in the dialectics of modernity can one continuously enact as well as undo the spell of the modern.



Author: David Der-wei Wang
Genre: Article
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