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Hockx, Michel (2009) 'Perverse Poems and Suspicious Salons: The Friday School in Modern Chinese Literature.' In: Rojas, Carlos and Chow, Eileen Cheng-yin, (eds.), Rethinking Chinese Popular Culture: Cannibalizations of the Canon. Abingdon: Routledge, pp. 15-39.

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Recent articles and studies have unveiled the variety of literary practices on the cultural scene in the Shanghai of the 1930s.1 The rediscovery of often forgotten groups and individuals has cast serious doubt on the tenability of existing analytical schemes, which discuss the literary history of this period in terms of a binary opposition between “progressive” and “reactionary” writing, or between the so-called “May Fourth tradition” and its avowed nemesis: popular literature. This essay hopes to show that, although members of the May Fourth generation active as critics in the 1930s continued to express their familiar dissatisfaction with writing they considered in bad taste or unenlightened, there is no reason for scholars nowadays to share these critics’ judgments of taste. In short, this essay tries to turn a well-known argument on its head: rather than assuming that the May Fourth generation represented an actively repressive mainstream of serious writing which “suppressed” popular literature, I argue that, even in the 1930s, this generation was using strategies for gaining symbolic capital within the literary field that are more in line with those typically applied by an avant-garde that considers itself to be suppressed. As a result, it will emerge that the forgotten writers and practices introduced in the main body of this essay did not have much affinity with popular literature at all, but can rather be seen to continue an indigenous moral-aesthetic disposition. These writings and practices were at some time referred to by the term Friday School (Libaiwu pai ).

Item Type: Book Chapters
SOAS Departments & Centres: Legacy Departments > Faculty of Languages and Cultures > Department of the Languages and Cultures of China and Inner Asia
ISBN: 9780415468800
Date Deposited: 27 Oct 2013 14:37

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