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1 Modernism, Modernity, and Individualism

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Chapter Summary

Western modernism has visited China en masse twice. The first time was in the 1920s and '30s, when Mao Dun called it "new romanticism". At the time, modernism might as well have been a cultural ambassador of the West. Modernism, romanticism, and realism together formed a cultural team that began a vicious attack on the feudal culture represented by the classical Chinese language. In Chinese cultural domain, realism was placed in charge of literature within the revolutionary discourse. Realism began to severely and thoroughly inscribe standards for the literary realm, for everything from narratives of literary history and programs for the Writers' Association to enact, to sources of literary imagination, such as the interpretation of form, aesthetic style, or literary characters. In comparison to political science, economics, legal study, and sociology, literature is rather fond of individualism.

Keywords: capitalist individualism; capitalist modernity; China; literary realm; Mao Dun; revolutionary realism; Western modernism



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