Children's Literature in China: From Lu Xun to Mao Zedong

Children's Literature in China: From Lu Xun to Mao Zedong

Children's Literature in China: From Lu Xun to Mao Zedong

Children's Literature in China: From Lu Xun to Mao Zedong

Synopsis

This book introduces the major works and debates in Chinese children's literature within the framework of China's revolution and modernization. It demonstrates that the guiding rationale in children's literature was the political importance of children as the nation's future.

Excerpt

From its beginnings in the early twentieth century, modern Chinese children's literature was cast as an ideological tool to reshape China. It aroused deep controversies over concepts of childhood, education and language. At the core of the controversy was its role in China's push for modernization. Revolutionaries--from Lu Xun to Mao Zedong--insisted that the future of China would be decided by Chinese children themselves. To this end, they needed their own distinctive literature.

Children and children's literature, therefore, emerged as serious political concerns in modern Chinese history. In a China racked by national disintegration and spiritual crisis early this century, children became a symbol of hope for the future. In the past, children represented a continuity of family and traditional values. Early reformers reinterpreted this ideology within an evolutionary framework and fashioned a new image of children: they represented national, not family, continuity, and evolutionary change, not unchanging tradition. Lu Xun was the spokesperson for this position. The Marxists adopted this position but substituted revolutionary struggle for evolutionary change, calling children 'revolutionary successors' (gemingde jiebanren). In a society that valued literature as the primary source of moral values, children's literature was to be a powerful means to educate the future masters of a modern state.

Yet for all its significance in China's recent political and cultural history, in China there are only fragmented and frequently polemical studies of children's literature despite the wealth of available material. In the West the subject itself has been barely acknowledged. It is not that Chinese themselves attribute little significance to children's literature. A cursory . . .

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