Modern Archaics: Continuity and Innovation in the Chinese Lyric Tradition, 1900-1937

Modern Archaics: Continuity and Innovation in the Chinese Lyric Tradition, 1900-1937

by Shengqing Wu


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After the collapse of the Qing dynasty in 1911 and the rise of a vernacular language movement, most scholars and writers declared the classical Chinese poetic tradition to be dead. But how could a longstanding high poetic form simply grind to a halt, even in the face of tumultuous social change? In this groundbreaking book, Shengqing Wu explores the transformation of Chinese classical-style poetry in the early twentieth century. Drawing on extensive archival research into the poetry collections and literary journals of two generations of poets and critics, Wu discusses the continuing significance of the classical form with its densely allusive and intricately wrought style. She combines close readings of poems with a depiction of the cultural practices their authors participated in, including poetry gatherings, the use of mass media, international travel, and translation, to show how the lyrical tradition was a dynamic force fully capable of engaging with modernity. By examining the works and activities of previously neglected poets who maintained their commitment to traditional aesthetic ideals, Modern Archaics illuminates the splendor of Chinese lyricism and highlights the mutually transformative power of the modern and the archaic.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780674726673
Publisher: Harvard
Publication date: 01/20/2014
Series: Harvard-Yenching Institute Monograph Series , #88
Pages: 456
Product dimensions: 6.10(w) x 9.40(h) x 1.60(d)

About the Author

Shengqing Wu is Assistant Professor of East Asian Languages and Literatures at Wesleyan University.

Table of Contents

List of Illustrations ix

Acknowledgments xi

Introduction: Ornamental Lyricism 1

Part I A Formal Feeling Comes: Poetry of Mourning

1 Falling Leaves and Grieving Cicadas: Allegory and the Experience of Loss in Song Lyrics 45

2 Radical Antiquarianism: Chen Sanli and His Poetic Response to Cultural Crisis 108

Part II The Lure of Intellectual Elegance: Poetry as Social Practice

3 Contested Fengya: Loyalists and Classical-Style Poetry Clubs 165

4 A Lonely Enterprise: Classical Poetry and New Means of Cultural Production 218

Part III Lighting the Modern Torch with Ancient Fire: Traveling Poetics

5 Refeminizing Modern Space: Lü Bicheng and Her Overseas Lyrics 267

6 O My Love Is Like a Red Red Rose: Classical Form and Translation 333

Epilogue: Translations of Tradition 380

Selected Bibliography 387

Index 423

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