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The Subversion of Modernity and Socialism in Mu Shiying’s Early Fiction

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image of Frontiers of Literary Studies in China

Mu Shiying’s first short story collection, North Pole, South Pole (Nanbeiji) from 1932, is usually seen as socialist or proletarian literature preceding his later modernist writings. I argue that this view needs to be revised. In one short story Mu deliberately parodies the social agenda of contemporary leftist writers. The protagonists are neither enlightened workers nor victims of social injustice. On the contrary, they turn to rage, misogyny, and self-righteous violence, and their motives are rooted in their sexual frustrations and inability to cope with modern life. Their righteous ideals are based on fiction and an imagined tradition. Mu’s construction of the fictive tradition plays an important part in these early short stories, and, in this respect, I compare them with Shi Zhecun’s writings.


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