An Alternative Lyric Modernity? Modern Classicism and Zhou Zuoren’s Wartime Doggerels

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Zhiyi Yang

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Zhou Zuoren, a pioneer of the New Culture Movement, became a collaborator and classicist poet during the Second Sino-Japanese War. This article attempts to bridge the gap between two periods of Zhou’s life: his later return to Chinese lyric classicism and his earlier career as a pioneer of vernacular poetry, translator of Japanese haiku, and literary critic championing a “Short Verse Movement.” I argue that Zhou’s wartime doggerels consisted of a modernist project in classicist guise, a continuation of his endeavor to lend expression to the immediacy and the transience of the moment through a native linguistic medium. Reflecting the urgency of self-expression under the Japanese occupation, Zhou’s esoteric doggerels represent a lyric subjectivity in crisis vis-à-vis the epic of history. By participating in a global moment of literary modernity, they also represent an “alternative lyric modernity” for China.




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