Cover: Modern Archaics: Continuity and Innovation in the Chinese Lyric Tradition, 1900–1937, from Harvard University PressCover: Modern Archaics in HARDCOVER

Harvard-Yenching Institute Monograph Series 88

Modern Archaics

Continuity and Innovation in the Chinese Lyric Tradition, 1900–1937

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$49.95 • £39.95 • €44.95

ISBN 9780674726673

Publication: January 2014


After the collapse of the Qing dynasty in 1911 and the rise of a vernacular language movement, most scholars and writers declared the classical Chinese poetic tradition to be dead. But how could a longstanding high poetic form simply grind to a halt, even in the face of tumultuous social change? In this groundbreaking book, Shengqing Wu explores the transformation of Chinese classical-style poetry in the early twentieth century. Drawing on extensive archival research into the poetry collections and literary journals of two generations of poets and critics, Wu discusses the continuing significance of the classical form with its densely allusive and intricately wrought style. She combines close readings of poems with a depiction of the cultural practices their authors participated in, including poetry gatherings, the use of mass media, international travel, and translation, to show how the lyrical tradition was a dynamic force fully capable of engaging with modernity. By examining the works and activities of previously neglected poets who maintained their commitment to traditional aesthetic ideals, Modern Archaics illuminates the splendor of Chinese lyricism and highlights the mutually transformative power of the modern and the archaic.