China’s May Fourth Poetry

China's may fourth poetry 133

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Abstract

China’s May Fourth Poetry addresses the link between the key aspects of China’s national salvation, or jiuguo, and the moral and political content evident in the new vernacular poetry, especially in its formative period from 1916 to 1936. The emergence of vernacular poetry in China represents the exigencies of the social and political problems of the time: a conflict between the rise of modern nationalism, the critique of the native cultural heritage, and a disparity between adopting Western learning as a social remedy and resisting foreign imperialism. This book analyses a corpus of early works by influential figures through examining the notable remedial ideas for national salvation that are constructed within them. This book also considers the role of language reform during the early twentieth century literary revolution, focusing particularly on its relationship to the birth of new vernacular poetry. The language reform was highly important for popular enlightenment, mass education, children’s literature, and the formation of a genuinely modern nation. Though presented for scholars of world literature and Chinese studies, every page is intelligible to anyone interested in learning about Chinese literature and vernacular poetry.