Academic journal article Chinese Literature, Essays, Articles, Reviews

The Aesthetic versus the Political: Lin Huiyin and Modern Beijing*

Academic journal article Chinese Literature, Essays, Articles, Reviews

The Aesthetic versus the Political: Lin Huiyin and Modern Beijing*

Article excerpt

autumn of 1933, shortly after Xiao's debut, "Silkworm" (ProQuest: ... denotes non-USASCII text omitted.)..., appeared in the literary supplement to the Ta Kung Pao, Lin invited him to her salon and praised his literary skill and sincere feeling. This encouraged Xiao Qian to choose literature as his career; he later became an established reporter and literary translator.74

Lin Huiyin's salon, situated within a familial space, functioned as a literary and cultural public space. In his study of the bourgeois public sphere, Jürgen Habermas proposes an interactive relationship between literature and politics, or more precisely, between the literary public sphere and the formation of public opinion, which could change the making of state policy.75 Although the social, cultural, and political contexts of modern Beijing differed substantially from late eighteenth- and early nineteenth-century Europe, Habermas' theoretical framework may help open up new perspectives on the cultural implications of "Madam's Salon." As a cultural public space, the salon did not intend to create any direct connections between literature and real politics.76 In fact, writers of the Beijing School were known for their resolution to separate literature from politics to maintain intellectual autonomy. For Habermas, "the public sphere in the political realm evolved from the public sphere in the world of letters."77 The intellectuals in Lin Huiyin's literary public space, however, emphasized the quality of language, the purity of aesthetic experience, and pastoral simplicity in literary representations independent of politics. …

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