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Meditator and Doer: On the Socialist New Man in Liu Qing’s Novel The Builders

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This article examines Liu Qing’s 1959 novel The Builders, an epical work on the Agricultural Cooperation Movement, from the perspective of configuration of the Socialist New Man. Illuminated by the works of the May Fourth generation, especially Lu Xun, the author argues that the figure of the Socialist New Man usually differentiates itself into two literary prototypes—meditator and doer. Liu Qing attempts to maintain a productive and dialectic tension between meditations and deeds, instead of mere discrepancy or incompatibility. The article demonstrates that in literature, while the meditator can be depicted thoroughly through psychological dynamics and unconscious dreams, it is more problematic to represent the doer. Such a formal and philosophical problem is central to literature, as well as corresponds to the socio-historical paradox of the 1950s China.


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