The May Fourth Movement launched an era of turmoil and transformation in China, as Western ideas and Western-style education encroached on the Confucian traditions that lay at the foundation of Chinese society. The reverberations for Chinese culture and literature were profound. The Republican period (1919-1949) witnessed an outpouring of poetry in a form and style new to China, written in the common people’s language baihua ("plain speech").The New Poetry broke with the centuries-old tradition of classical poetry and its intricate forms.
The Flowering of Modern Chinese Poetry presents English translations of over 250 poems by fifty poets, including a rich selection of poetry by women writers. The anthology provides a nuanced picture of the astonishingly rapid development of vernacular verse in China from its emergence during the May Fourth Movement, through the years of the Japanese invasion, to the Communist victory in the Civil War in 1949. Michel Hockx introduces the historical and literary contexts of the various schools of vernacular poetry that developed throughout the period: characterized as those of the pioneers, formalists, symbolists, "soldiers and peasants" poets, and Shanghai Poets of the late 1940s. Each selection of verse begins with a biographical sketch of the author’s life and literary career, including their roles in the Civil War and the resistance to the Japanese occupation.
Introducing English readers to master poets who are virtually unknown to Western audiences, this anthology presents a collection of verse written in an age of struggle that attests to the courage, sensitivity, and imagination of the Chinese people. The rise of China’s modern poetry reflects the rise of modern China.
About the authors
Herbert Batt taught English in China for eight years and has translated several collections of modern Chinese fiction.
S.P. Zitner was born in New York City on April 20, 1924, and spent over three years with the US Army during World War II, two of them in the South Pacific. Upon his discharge, he took his BA at Brooklyn College, his MA at City College of New York and his PhD at Duke University. He taught English Literature at Hampton Institute, Virginia, and Grinnell College, Iowa, before coming to Canada to teach at Trinity College, University of Toronto. He remained at Trinity College from 1969 until his retirement 20 years later, and for exemplary teaching he was awarded an honorary Doctor of Sacred Letters. He died in Toronto on April 26, 2005 at the age of 81. Sheldon Zitner's academic work includes six books — critical studies, editions and collections — and numerous articles, most of them on Shakespeare and other Renaissance dramatists. His poetry has appeared in many American and Canadian journals, including the Nation, Poetry, the Antigonish Review, and Queen's Quarterly. Two earlier collections of poetry, The Asparagus Feast (1999) and Before We Had Words (2002), were published by McGill-Queen's University Press, and a chapbook, Missing Persons, was published by Junction Books in 2003.