Chinese Literature, 1900 to the present

(3036 words)
  • Bonnie S. McDougall (Chinese University of Hong Kong)

Literary/ Cultural Context Essay

  • The Literary Encyclopedia. Volume Modern Chinese Writing and Culture, 1900-present.


The history of Chinese literature in the 20th century can be described as a series of challenges posed by its writers to its readers and to each other: to view the past as a burden that impedes a creative response to the present; to view China's modernisation as an opportunity to contribute to the country's modernity; to view the present as a disastrous retreat from the glorious culture and civilisation of the past two millennia; to seize a unique moment in China's history for self-development and literary experiment; to take advantage of the fact that the present, like the past, provides the educated elite with a salaried office from which to exercise social and moral leadership.

When the …

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McDougall, Bonnie S.. "Chinese Literature, 1900 to the present". The Literary Encyclopedia. First published 21 August 2006
[, accessed 25 November 2015.]