The Chinese Perspective and the Assessment of Contemporary Chinese Literature

By Xiaoming, Chen | Chinese Literature Today, Winter 2011 | Go to article overview

The Chinese Perspective and the Assessment of Contemporary Chinese Literature


Xiaoming, Chen, Chinese Literature Today


(ProQuest: ... denotes non-US-ASCII text omitted.)

A Chinese perspective, a Chinese horizon- these are still required to assess the value of contemporary Chinese literature. If we form our assessments without a Chinese perspective, only applying Western aesthetic standards and looking at unsuccessful translations of Chinese literary works, then a correct assessment of contemporary Chinese literature will never be possible.

The reasons for emphasizing the need of a Chinese perspective are as follows: First, the Chinese have been learning from the West for over one hundred years. Throughout these one hundred years, Chinese writers, artists, theorists, and critics have pored over knowledge from the West with sincerity and humility, with determination and thoroughness, and the results have been quite impressive. Second, every Chinese engaged in literary writing, theory, and criticism is widely read in Western literature, thought, and theory. Thus, under these conditions, based on these facts, it is already apparent that maintaining a Chinese perspective within the global framework of modern thought is extremely difficult. Third, a truly effective Chinese perspective is not easy to come by; to some extent, it takes a tremendous amount of courage and originality to create a truly Chinese horizon. The failure to construct that viewpoint results in a perspective still completely restricted by Western standards or a perspective that is Chinese in concept and ideology only.

Today, of course, the discussion of a Chinese perspective is extremely complicated. I would like to emphasize the importance of an effective Chinese horizon, one built within the comparative contexts of East and West. Here I can only propose a simple condition without which we would not be able to assess the achievements of contemporary Chinese literature. We must recognize that contemporary Chinese literature has its own unique experiences. The inability to recognize this will prevent us from erecting a monument for Chinese literature on our own soil, and in turn forever prevent us from developing a standard for its assessment. Assessing Chinese literature according to Western literary values will forever situate it among the ranks of the "lesser developed." There is no doubt that Western aesthetics have guided and facilitated the advancement, growth, and maturity of contemporary Chinese literature. From literary revolution to revolutionary literature, Western modernity has played a guiding role. China experienced a radical revolution in modernity that necessitated a thorough learning process, an inevitable step in the development and growth of Chinese literature. In the 1950s and '60s we studied literature from the former Soviet Union; in the 1980s, amid the "Correction" movement ... following the end of the Cultural Revolution, we once again upheld the banners of Enlightenment and Humanism; in the 1990s a diverse body of writing started to emerge. Throughout these developments, Chinese literature has no doubt been influenced by the West. But realism, romanticism, modernism, and postmodernism are literary trends nurtured by the histories and traditions of the West. Those great writers and their works of greatness are Western home-grown artistic achievements. This is not to say that the past must now bow to the present, or that because of China's economic rise, China seeks to impose its culture. This is just to say that within a global context, we have come to realize that cultural diversity is the foundation of a vibrant global culture and that the value of each culture lies in its uniqueness. In the absence of uniqueness, a culture will be reduced to but a by-product of globalization. In the early 1990s in his lecture "The Antinomies of Postmodernity," Frederic Jameson noted the importance of

the affirmation of a cultural (and sometimes religious) originality that had the power to resist assimilation by Western modernity. . . . At any rate, what one wants to affirm today is that this second reactive or antimodern term of tradition and traditionalism has everywhere vanished from the reality of the former Third World or colonized societies, where a neotraditionalism (as in certain Chinese revivals of Confucianism, or in religious fundamentalisms) is now rather perceived as a deliberate political and collective choice, in a situation in which little remains of a past that must be completely reinvented. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Note: primary sources have slightly different requirements for citation. Please see these guidelines for more information.

Cited article

The Chinese Perspective and the Assessment of Contemporary Chinese Literature
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen
Items saved from this article
  • Highlights & Notes
  • Citations
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Search by... Author
    Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.