Chinese Revolutionary Deviation from Rousseau’s "Émile, ou De l’éducation"

By: Lijun Bi   Xiangshu Fang  

This study examines the short story “The New Emile,” an often neglected work by Lao She, a giant Chinese literary figure in the twentieth century. The paper first explores briefly the historical background and the intellectual context of the flourishing school of revolutionary children’s literature in China in the 1930s. It then analyzes Lao She’s short story “The New Emile,” which was published in a 1936 special children’s literature issue of "Literature" (Wenxue), an important journal of the League of Left-Wing Writers. The same special issue also carries the translation of Gorky’s “On Themes” and an introduction of Soviet children’s literature by Mao Dun. Lao She’s story is a fictional report by a first-person narrator as the experimenting educator on a Chinese Emile’s revolutionary upbringing, which is the exact opposite of that of Rousseau’s Emile. The paper argues that, in a tragic vein, the purpose of Lao She’s story, which traces the stern experimental revolutionary methodology of upbringing the future generation, is to magnify the dismal consequences of the artificial revolutionary educational environment that frustrates natural development.

"Chinese Children’s Literature", " Political Education in China", " Literature and Ideology in China"
Critical Cultural Studies, Literary Humanities
Paper Presentation in a Themed Session

Dr Lijun Bi

Lecturer, School of Languages, Literature, Cultures and Lingustics, Monash university, Australia
Victoria, Australia

Xiangshu Fang