Chapter

The Urban Cigarette and the Pastoral Pipe: Literary Representations of Smoking in Republican China

Carol Benedict

in Golden-Silk Smoke

Published by University of California Press

Published in print October 2011 | ISBN: 9780520262775
Published online March 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780520948563 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1525/california/9780520262775.003.0009
The Urban Cigarette and the Pastoral Pipe: Literary Representations of Smoking in Republican China

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Disparities in standards of living between industrial cities and the countryside provided the material basis on which smoking habits in China diverged along geographical lines in the first half of the twentieth century. In the 1930s, a socially inclusive mass market for machine-rolled cigarettes was in place only in Shanghai and a handful of other coastal treaty ports. Social and spatial differences in tobacco consumption, largely rooted in regional economic inequalities and income disparities between rich and poor, were reinforced by the many cultural representations of divergent smoking practices that appeared in Republican-era media such as films, magazines, newspapers, and tobacco advertisements. Representations of the “urban cigarette” and the “pastoral pipe,” pervasive in both popular and high-brow culture, are particularly evident in Republican-era literature. As potent symbols of China's encounter with the industrializing West, cigarettes figured prominently in the writings of many twentieth-century authors, most of whom dealt in one way or another with the theme of the integration of local Chinese communities into the globalized capitalist economy.

Keywords: China; tobacco; smoking; cigarettes; consumption; urban cigarette; pastoral pipe; Republican-era literature; capitalist economy

Chapter.  10450 words. 

Subjects: Asian History

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