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Making National History with Literary History: Hegel’s Influence via Taine on Meiji Japan and the Late Qing and Early Republican China

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Through analyzing Hegel’s influence via Taine on Meiji Japan and later, on the late Qing and early Republican China, this paper will shed lights on the process of the making of national history with literary history in modern Japan and its influences on modern China. It argues that the simultaneous establishment of modern Japanese historiography and the writing of literary history in Japan had a direct impact on the establishment of Chinese historiography in the late Qing, and the writing of Chinese literary history in twentieth-century China. It will focus more on the philosophical ideas of Taine and Hegel and their influence in Japanese literary historiography and, due to the limited length of this paper, only by extension, that of China as well. The primary focus of this paper is the interaction of the modern Japanese and Chinese pursuit of new historical narratives in the construction of new national and cultural identities in the context of global modernity. It also stresses that, an invisible “origin,” the writing of Chinese (literary) history in the early twentieth-century, ironically, directly and indirectly, has been internalized by the writing of Japanese national history in an exclusive framework of nation-building.


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