Copyright Date: 2011
Published by: Harvard University Press
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  • Book Info
    Book Description:

    Jones revises our understanding of modern China by tracing the ways that evolutionary works developed into a form of vernacular knowledge in modern Chinese literature. From children’s primers to print culture, from fairy tales to filmmaking, his analysis offers an innovative and interdisciplinary angle of vision on China’s cultural evolution.

    eISBN: 978-0-674-06103-3
    Subjects: Language & Literature, History

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. [i]-[iv])
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. [v]-[viii])
  3. INTRODUCTION: The Development of Modern Chinese Literature
    (pp. 1-27)

    On April 1, 1933, Lu Xun (1881–1936) wrote a column for Shanghai’s paper of record, the Shun Pao, about the street life of the colonial city in which he spent his last years. Already acclaimed as the most prominent and innovative voice in China’s new literature, Lu Xun had by that time largely forsaken fiction and the short story form in which he had excelled for the realm of journalism and the critical essay, or zawen. And so it was that one of his most adventurous literary distillations of the nature of Chinese modernity appeared under a pseudonym, surrounded on...

  4. 1 THE IRON HOUSE OF NARRATIVE: Lu Xun and the Late Qing Fiction of Evolutionary Adventure
    (pp. 28-62)

    In popular and academic circles alike, what has come to be referred to as “social Darwinism” has long since been dismissed as a dead letter. Of course, we can only welcome the demise of the politics of unfettered capitalist oligarchy, scientific racism, and imperial expansion with which the monism of figures such as Herbert Spencer and Ernst Haeckel has been associated, if often in a grossly simplified manner. Yet to dismiss the lingering hold of such discourses on the globalizing neoliberal “consensus” of the past three decades would be premature. And while the role and ramifications of social Darwinism in...

  5. 2 INHERIT THE WOLF: Lu Xun, Natural History, and Narrative Form
    (pp. 63-98)

    “My acquaintance with Wei Lianshu,” writes the narrator of Lu Xun’s 1925 story “The Misanthrope,” “began with a funeral, and ended with a funeral.” Although sometimes overlooked by Lu Xun critics, this complex and affecting text (the title of which can also be translated as “The Loner”) has much to teach us about how early twentieth-century Chinese intellectuals came to imagine and narrativize their own developmental impasse in natural-historical terms.¹ “The Misanthrope” tells a story about would-be reformers and progressive intellectuals, “light sleepers” in the iron cell of a stifling provincial town, whose every effort to effect historical change is...

  6. 3 THE CHILD AS HISTORY IN REPUBLICAN CHINA: A Discourse on Development
    (pp. 99-125)

    Something of the predicament faced by scholars engaged in the work of vernacularizing modern scientific knowledge in Republican China is suggested by a 1937 preface to a book called The Psychology of Children’s Drawings. From the very start, the author, a pioneering child psychologist named Huang Yi (1903–1944), cannot help but acknowledge to his readers that “the characteristics and principles of children’s drawing described here are based on the research of Euro-American scholars.”¹ His exposition of these theories, he continues, is supplemented by a series of drawings he has collected from Chinese children, drawings which prove that “the developmental process...

    (pp. 126-146)

    How could toys be worth more than the children in whose image they are created? This is the disturbing question posed by a pair of photomontages printed in Modern Sketch (Shidai manhua), a magazine of political humor and social commentary popular in Shanghai in the 1930s.¹ The first image, published in July 1936 and titled “Our Lovable Little Angels,” juxtaposes a photograph of toy dolls lining a department store shelf with an image of a young peasant girl tending to an even smaller infant, pasted in front of a large crowd of clearly emaciated Chinese children.² While the dolls, backed...

  8. 5 A NARROW CAGE: Lu Xun, Eroshenko, and the Modern Chinese Fairy Tale
    (pp. 147-174)

    The premiere of the film Playthings on October 10, 1933, competed for attention with a very different kind of spectacle: the arrival in Shanghai of the Carl Hagenbeck Circus in a specially outfitted steamship, hailed in the local press as a “modern Noah’s Ark.” Captained by Lorenz Hagenbeck—scion of the famed Hamburg trader in exotic animals and inventor of the modern cage-free zoo, Carl Hagenbeck—this floating circus came to China from a successful run in Japan, pitching its tent on the former site of the Majestic Hotel on Jing’an Temple Road in the International Settlement.¹ Hagenbeck was impressed by the...

  9. APPENDIX: “A Narrow Cage”
    (pp. 175-188)
    Vasilii Eroshenko
    (pp. 189-196)
  11. NOTES
    (pp. 197-242)
    (pp. 243-244)
  13. INDEX
    (pp. 245-260)