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The Difficulty of Balancing Art and Life: Examining the Influence of Salome on Tian Han’s Early Dramatic Works

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image of Frontiers of Literary Studies in China

Tian Han is well-known for writing realistic and revolutionary works in modern Chinese literature, but his early dramatic works are full of Western aesthetic decadence which values “art is for art’s sake.” He was strongly influenced by Oscar Wilde and his Salome, which can be found from his translating Salome to directing it performed on the Chinese stage, and to his own drama writing in 1920s. He did his best to balance art and life in his dramatic works in order to make them accepted by the masses in China. However, in 1930 he declared in his Self-criticism Directed at Ourselves that he would give up writing the aesthetic and decadent literary works and transfer to “art is for life’s sake.” The conflict between art and life through his works and theories demonstrates his complex about Salome.


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