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Chan, L-Y. A. (1991) A study of the plays of Chen Baichen. PhD thesis. SOAS University of London. DOI:

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Chen Baichen (1908 - ) was one of the most prolific playwrights in China during the 1930s and 1940s, which was the golden age of modern Chinese drama. His plays range from the most serious and pathetic to the fantastic and farcical, drawing material from legends, historical events, current and contemporary issues. The object of this study is to investigate the range and quality of Chen's plays, and thence to identify those characteristics which he shared with other modern Chinese playwrights and those peculiar to him. This thesis consists of six chapters. The first two are of introductory nature, giving an idea of the objective and methods used in the study, as well as some background information on Chen's life and his playwriting career. Chapters three to five carry the main emphasis of the thesis, dealing with Chen's plays written during different stages in his life. Each chapter is devoted to one period, and detailed analysis of Chen's plays is preceded by a general review of his plays written during the period. Nine plays, which are representative of Chen's development, are selected for detailed discussion. These plays reflect the wide range of Chen's works, which embraced the historical play, satirical comedy and serious drama. Heed is taken of the realistic aspects, as well as the aesthetic values of the plays, but the playwright's power of dramatic expression is given the main attention in the analysis. In addition, comparisons between Chen's plays and other plays written during the same period at-e drawn wherever appropriate, so as to give a fairer assessment Chen's plays. The concluding chapter. Chapter 6, sums up the characteristics of Chen's plays and assesses Chen's place in the history of modern Chinese drama. Chen was unique in his creation of a wide range of high quality plays, especially during the 1930s and 1940s when he enjoyed most creative freedom. But like most of his fellows, Chen's prolific period was followed abruptly by long years of quiescence. Creative freedom was smothered by contraints (external and internal), and Chen's greatest success in playwriting still lies in his pre-1949 works.

Item Type: Theses (PhD)
SOAS Departments & Centres: SOAS Research Theses > Proquest
DOI (Digital Object Identifier):
Date Deposited: 16 Oct 2018 14:57

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