Anne Witchard

in Lao She in London

Published by Hong Kong University Press

Published in print October 2012 | ISBN: 9789888139606
Published online January 2013 | e-ISBN: 9789882208643 | DOI:

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After the international success of Rickshaw Boy, Lao She returned from the US to Mao's China in 1949 with high hopes. Welcomed back by his comrade from Chongqing days, Zhou Enlai, he was accorded the title, ‘People's Artist’ along with a slew of committee posts. Lao She had never shied from identifying himself as a ‘petty bourgeois’ writer who had a sense of righteousness but no enthusiasm for political factionalism. That he did so at a time when Mao's 1966 rectification campaign declared its objective to repudiate reactionary bourgeois academics, was to seal his own doom. 40 years after his fiction first started to explore China's emergence onto the global stage, Mao's Cultural Revolution got underway and Lao She was driven to drown himself. Lao She's play of the period, Teahouse, ranks in cultural magnitude with J. M. Synge's The Playboy of the Western World (1907), each a monument to the twentieth-century struggle of decolonizing nationhood. The consensus is that non-Western modernisms have a place not as derivative products of a Euro-American original but as full partners in a literary movement, best understood by regarding modernism as an aesthetic response to conditions of modernity that are globally structured but nationally or locally particular.

Keywords: Zhou Enlai; W. B Yeats; J. M. Synge; James Joyce; Teahouse; The Playboy of the Western World

Chapter.  2610 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Society and Culture

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