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Contemporary Chinese Aesthetics

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Edited By Zhu Liyuan and Gene Blocker

This book is a collection of translations of recent work by contemporary Chinese aestheticians. Because of the relative isolation of China until recently, little is known of this rich and ongoing aesthetics tradition in China. Although some of the articles are concerned with the traditional ancient Chinese theories of art and beauty, many are inspired by Western aesthetics, including Marxism, and all are involved in cross-cultural comparisons of Chinese and Western aesthetic traditions.

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The Function of Literary Criticism: Zhu Liyuan 307

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The Function of Literary Criticism Zhu Liyuan For a long time in China the prevailing viewpoint was that the function of literary criticism was neither literary nor aesthetic. The late Chairman Mao Zedong proclaimed in the 1940's that literary criticism was "one of the main methods of struggle in the world of literature and art." He held that the task of criticism was to unite the Chinese people in the war against Japan and "as for all those anti-nation, anti-science, anti-masses and anti-communism literary works, we should criticize and refute them severely." After the war, literary criticism became a tool to support communism by encouraging progressive writers and criticizing reactionary writers. This politicizing of criticism has not diminished but rather strengthened since Mao's victory in 1949. Since 1950 when Mao launched a campaign to criticize two films, The Secret History of the Qing Palace and The Biography of Wu Xun, he has gone on to criticise the literary thought of Wu Feng's "reactionary group," the idealism of Yu Pinbuo's study of The Dream of the Red Chamber, inaugurate the 1950's movement against the "rightists," including the criticism of the novel, The Young Newcomer of the Organizing Ministry, written by the Minister of Culture, Wang Meng, the "anti-party" novel, Liu Zhidnn, the Peking Opera, Hai Rui's Dismissal from Office, and the "black revisionist literary line" during the Cultural Revolution. As a result, literary criticism has become a tool of politics, abandoning any aesthetic quality. In the eyes of ordinary Chinese, literary...

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