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Old State and New Mission: A Survey of Utopian Literature during the Late Qing Dynasty and the Early Period of the Republic of China

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The prosperity of utopian literature happened under the historical background that China was faced with “the greatest turbulence which had never occurred for the past three thousand years.” The significant changes took place in modern China were not merely a passive response to the outside threats, but an active pursuit of something greater. The utopian literature gave expression to Chinese people’s desire of stepping out of tradition to the new land of civilization. The aesthetic common sense created by the utopian novels filled the vacuum of faith after the decline of tradition and performed the social functions of uniting people and promoting reform. The popularity of utopian literature improved the cultural position of literature and accelerated its change from the traditional form to the modern form.


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