The Ideological Role of Chinese Children’s Rhymes and Poems in the Twentieth Century
The role of traditional rhymes is examined within the context of a male-dominated family hierarchy of Confucian thinking that profoundly shaped children’s development. The language and literature reforms of the 1920s brought a poetry revolution in China, as authors began to write for children in the vernacular language and offer a purposeful argument against Confucianism, in favour of science and democracy. Literary approaches evolved, first into the socialist-realist approach of the 1940s and 1950s, then into the «three prominences» of the Cultural Revolution. Meanwhile, in Taiwan, children’s rhymes promoted the messages of modern science, but maintained a traditional Confucian outlook. In the 1980s, children’s poetry in the People’s Republic of China began to follow a new direction, in keeping with the new era of cultural and economic liberalization.
This book uses the evolution of the children’s poetry genre to provide a fascinating insight into Chinese political, moral and social life in the twentieth century.
Chapter Six: The development of children’s poetry in Taiwan
The development of children’s poetry in Taiwan
Children’s literature in Taiwan
Hong (1994: 1–2) reminds his readers of the rather special situation of Taiwan vis-a-vis mainland China. Culturally, it is not simply a breakaway area of China, but distinct from other Chinese-speaking areas in its origins and influences. It is a place where east and west meet, having been invaded and colonized by the Qing regime and the Japanese, occupied by USA forces and preserving a strong aboriginal culture. Hong recognizes the importance of market forces in literature. While children’s literature is an area which involves politics and education, Taiwan has a free economy, and production of literature, like any other product, responds to demand. The purchasers of children’s literature are very often not the end users (Hong 1994: 2). Children’s literature is not a necessity and is therefore a marginal consumer product. When adults have spare money, they will buy children’s literature, but in a society which does not have a developed economy, or in times of unrest, the children’s book market will not flourish and there is no opportunity for the creation of new literature (ibid: 2). Taiwan’s economy began to grow in the 1970s when American aid was withdrawn. This was a traumatic, but pivotal period for Taiwan: formal links with both Japan and the USA ceased, and Taiwan, as The Republic of China, was excluded from the United Nations in favour of the People’s Republic of China....
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