This book explores the issues of nation and modernity in China by focusing on the work of Zhou Zuoren (1885–1967), one of the most controversial of modern Chinese intellectuals and brother of the writer Lu Xun. Zhou was radically at odds with many of his contemporaries and opposed their nation-building and modernization projects. Through his literary and aesthetic practice as an essayist, Zhou espoused a way of constructing the individual and affirming the individual’s importance in opposition to the normative national subject of most May Fourth reformers.
Zhou’s work presents an alternative vision of the nation and questions the monolithic claims of modernity by promoting traditional aesthetic categories, the locality rather than the nation, and a literary history that values openness and individualism.
Susan Daruvala is University Lecturer in Chinese at the University of Cambridge.