Mythic and Folk Elements in Modern Chinese Literature: A Study of Six Writers

Author: Li, Ningyi
A revisionist analysis employing an anthropological method to interpret
folklore in the works of understudied modern Chinese writers.


“Dr. Li’s innovative approach to modern Chinese literary studies is immediately revealed in her selection of authors, which features Mao Zedong as well as more conventional modern literary figures such as Shen Congwen. Here and in other aspects, Dr. Li is not afraid to abandon the orthodox interpretation of what is said to be mainstream and marginal in Chinese literature. . . . The most original feature of this is Dr. Li’s systematic and sustained presentation of the anthropological and ethnographical basis of the mythic and folk elements that have been present in abundance in Chinese writing since its beginnings.” – Prof. Bonnie S. McDougall, Chinese University of Hong Kong

“. . . her most important discovery is that different varieties of realism and romanticism do not dominate the field to the extent that is often assumed. Conversely, an attention to anthropological fields such as mythology, folklore and ethnology has been connected to modern Chinese literature as early as the first two decades of the twentieth century. Accepted definitions of modern Chinese literature as mainstream or anti-tradition are thus shown to be questionable.”- Prof. Tommy McClellan, University of Edinburgh

“. . . will help lead the way in sophisticated new work on modern Chinese literature and on the development of mythological, folkloristic and ethnological studies in modern China.” - Prof. Michel Hockx, SOAS, University of London

Table of Contents

Beyond developing a national essence as an alternative to imitating Western culture, the six writers discussed in this text wanted to express their identities and introduce local or remote areas where they grew up to urban readers. A harmonious relationship between tradition and modernity in the modern canon of Chinese literature can be recognized.

Foreword by Prof. Bonnie S. McDougall
List of Abbreviations
1. Introduction
2. Adaptation of Chinese Myths
3. Fiction with Folk Elements
4. Pastoral Fiction with Local Color
5. Conclusion
Glossary of Authors and Places