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Oct 26, 2021

Decadence in Modern Chinese Literature and Culture

A Comparative and Literary-Historical Reevaluation

Cambria Press 2020

European Decadence, a controversial artistic movement that flourished mainly in late-nineteenth-century France and Britain, has inspired several generations of Chinese writers and literary scholars since it was introduced to China in the early 1920s. Translated into Chinese as tuifei, which has strong hedonistic and pessimistic connotations, the concept of Decadence has proven instrumental in multiple waves of cultural rebellion, but has also become susceptible to moralistic criticism. Many contemporary scholars have sought to rehabilitate Chinese Decadence but have found it difficult to dissociate it from the negative connotations of tuifei. More importantly, few have reconnected Decadence with its steadfast pursuit of intellectual pleasure and unique paradoxes or explored the specific socio-historical conditions and cultural dynamics that gave rise to Decadence.

Decadence in Modern Chinese Literature and Culture: A Comparative and Literary-Historical Reevaluation (Cambria Press, 2020) is the first comprehensive study of Decadence in Chinese literature since the early twentieth century. Standing at the intersection of comparative literature and cultural history, it transcends the framework of tuifei by locating European Decadence in its sociocultural context and uses it as a critical lens to examine Chinese Decadent literature and Chinese society. Its in-depth analysis reveals that some Chinese writers and literary scholars creatively appropriated the concept of Decadence for enlightenment purposes or to bid farewell to revolution. Meanwhile, the socialist system, by first fostering strong senses of elitism among certain privileged groups and then rescinding its ideological endorsement and material support, played a crucial role in the emergence of Chinese Decadent literature in the European sense.

Decadence in Modern Chinese Literature and Culture is an important book for scholars and students interested in Decadence, modern Chinese literature and cultural history, Asian studies, and comparative literature.

This book is in the Cambria Sinophone World Series headed by Victor H. Mair (University of Pennsylvania).

Victoria Oana Lupașcu is an Assistant Professor of Comparative Literature and Asian Studies at University of Montréal. Her areas of interest include medical humanities, visual art, 20th and 21st Chinese, Brazilian and Romanian literature and Global South studies.

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Victoria Lupascu

Victoria Oana Lupașcu is an Assistant Professor of Comparative Literature and Asian Studies at University of Montréal. Her areas of interest include medical humanities, visual art, 20th and 21st Chinese, Brazilian and Romanian literature and Global South studies.

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