Ming-fong Kuo (Tamsui / Ulm) andAndreas Weiland (Aachen)

Modern Literature in Post-War Taiwan

Modernity is a concept not adequately defined, an ideological concept well established within the predominant discourse since at least one, if not two centuries.(1) If we speak about “modern Chinese literature” and “Western influence”, this says a lot about tacit assumptions which are connected almost ‘naturally’ with the concept expressed by the term ‘modern’, a term which after all has Western, i.e. Latin, roots.(2)

In East Asia, the advent of ‘modernity’ is usually connected not only with the intrusion of the Western imperialist world system (Wallerstein) in China, Korea, and Japan during the 19th century. But by and large it is also thought to be derived from the ‘cultural impact’ that this collision and, in fact, intrusion entailed.

If we disregard a preparatory stage or ‘pre-history’ (‘Vorgeschichte’), that is to say, the influence of Western Jesuits especially on Ming China, the sporadic military scuffles and, last not least, trade relations which led to increased contact between Europe and Asia since the 16th and 17th century, it is possible to speak of a genuine phase of transformation (‘Umbruchsphase’) leading to a ‘real modernity’ in East Asia which manifests itself in Meiji period Japan but also in Korea and China, since the end of the 19th century, in the form of reform movements which finally affected the entire socio-cultural climate.(3)

The notions of a pre- or proto-history and thus, preparatory stage of modernity (‘Vorgeschichte der Moderne’) as well as a ‘genuine transitory phase’ (‘eigentliche Umbruchphase’) reflect the ambiguous and oscillating use of the terms ‘modernity’ and ‘modern age’ in the West. What is referred to here is a lack of historical precision implied in the use of these concepts. In using them in an undifferentiated manner, we avoid to answer questions like: Since when do we actually encounter ‘the modern’ and ‘modernity’? And how far do the phenomena referred to by these terms extend into the present or future? Is post-modernity, and what is called post-modern, for instance, simply another intellectual current within a continuing ‘modernity’? 

At the same time, the entire frame of reference of the term ‘modern’ (resp. ‘modernity’), the contextual field (or ‘Umfeld’) of the debate within which the term occurs, reflects the immanent assumption that modernity is to be equated with Western modernity and modernisation in East Asia is nothing but the enforcement of a Western (in itself ‘modern’) influence which pushes aside indigenous (per se ‘traditional’) forms of culture.(4) 

In the West, the ascent (if not outbreak) of the modern period is equated, in one sense, with the renaissance(5): the genesis of Early Capitalism in Northern Italy, Flanders, London, Bristol, Liverpool, Amsterdam, Sevilla, and so on.(6) At the same time, it is connected (both logically and chronologically) with the reconquista, and the ‘discovery of the world’ by Europeans, thus with the origins of the mercantile or commercial capitalist world system since the 16th century.(7) On the other hand, and in a more narrowly defined, much more ‘essential’ sense, the category of the ‘modern’ (and ‘modernity’) has been introduced, although all but concisely, into the socio-cultural debates of the West as a fundamental concept before World War II, and has received new attention once again in the 1950s and 60s. It was used to signify above all certain phenomena figuring in the history of philosophy, art, and literature, phenomena which made their appearance at the time of the decisive modernisation of European and North American industrial societies (and therefore, socio-cultures), since the 1890s.(8)

In conformity with the ideological quality of the term, the basic processes underlying the socio-cultural transformations were usually ignored, such as
- the wave of mergers between large banks and between industrial companies in the 1890s which led both in the US and Germany to the appearance of the first big corporations and trusts; 
- the modernisation of the forces of production, especially in the form of a replacement of the steam engine in the wake of the electrification of industry; 
- the modernisation of the régime de production (and thus of industrial forms of production and of the organisation of industrial labor) in the newly formed, large enterprises;
- the demographic shifts which were taking the form of rapid urban growth between 1890 and 1910; 
- and at the same time, the accelerated proletarianization and urbanisation of rural populations which became redundant in the countryside due to the widespread application of chemical fertilizer (the contribution of J. Liebig) and the mechanization of agriculture (tractors!). 

The socio-cultural ‘reflections’ of these rather ‘hard’ and empirical aspects of social change are perceived, however, and content-wise  they are related to the category of ‘modernity’ (9) : Among them, we note the dissolution of a relatively homogenous, urban (albeit small town), petit-bourgeois social reality as it is reflected for instances in the German-speaking countries by the narrations of Theodor Storm, Gottfried Keller, but also Adalbert Stifter, and its replacement by a big city and/or industrial reality first prefigured by G. Freytag, G. Hauptmann (already his play, The Weavers), and later on, in a more fully developed form, in the big city novels of the 1920s and 30s.  These tendencies, by the way, make their appearance in France and England somewhat earlier than in relatively ‘backward’ Germany.(10) 

They have in common that they are  a reflection of the ‘modern’ class (and mass) society forming under the influence of increased and stepped up European and North American industrialization: Intending a critique of contemporary culture, Ortega y Gasset was later to refer to these tendencies in a spirit of conservatism. ‘Modernity’ (or ‘the Modern’) in this narrowly defined sense of the term, as understood in the West, is nothing but the crisis-shaped, socio-cultural expression of a weighty and painful transformation process: as it is reflected, above all, by literature, music, and the arts (here especially by painting, but also by sculpture, and film) and - on another level of abstraction - by philosophy and the social sciences.(11)

Within literature, this becomes visible on the eve of the First World War and, perhaps even more clearly, in its aftermath (expressionism, dada, surrealism).(12) Within painting, it is prefigured since Van Gogh and Gauguin, who distance themselves already sharply from Europe and its dominant culture. Klimt, Schiele and other painters associated with art nouveau trail in their wake.(13) Then there is the radicalization in the form of cubism, and parallelly, futurism and surrealism.

A new precision of formal means and intended messages is realized within this ‘modern’ art in the 1930s by muralists dedicated no longer to individualist expression but effective readability on the part of the masses (Siquieros, Orozco, Riviera etc.), a tendency that also makes itself felt in the paintings of Fernand Léger and the photo-montages of John Heartfield, and furthermore in certain phenomena of Soviet Art (1918-28) soon to be suppressed by the cultural bureaucracy; here they formed the avantgarde of Constructivist art (Tatlin, in the field of architecture, Vertov, in film art).

In the field of music, we witness a break with traditions (upheld by Classical composers) in the works of Charles Ives, Webern, and Hindemith, finally the transition to Zwoelftonmusik and atonality (Schoenberg), and the appearance of an even more radical avantgarde, represented by the oeuvre of Satie, Cage, Morton Feldman, Stockhausen, Nono, Boulez, Henze and Schnebel; a development that is, in one way or other, ‘echoed’ by Toru Takemitsu and other Japanese and Chinese composers.

Modernity (or ‘the Modern’) in this narrow sense is characterized by an ambivalent but also rich and differentiated relationship with the social transformation of the politico-economic structure (or ‘foundation’) which, though not bringing it about directly, gave rise to or constituted the preconditions of its formations (as a cultural ‘fact’ or cultural process). 
It is on the one hand the optimistic echo or accompaniment of a modernization thrust and of objective social phenomena  herewith connected which amount, more or less, to a deep and protracted crisis affecting (and continuing to affect) the European and North American center as well a semi-feudal/semi-colonial  or entirely colonized periphery of the world system.
On the other hand, is is since c. 1910 and even more so, from the 1920s to the ‘40s, the expression of a critique and protest vis à vis the modalities of socio-cultural change, of which it is both a part and an intended, even though fragment-like expression.

This janus-headed (affirmative, optimistic, ‘bourgeois’ as well as critical, protesting, ‘anti-bourgeois’) essence of modernity respectively modernism (in the arts, literature, music, philosophy, etc.) mirrors the schism of a world system focused on North America and Europe, its division into a dominant center and an exploited periphery, but at the same time into a prospering and an exploited class in the centers of the world system itself:
a division which forces the artists, writers, composers, but also philosophers, historians, economists and social scientists of this ‘transitional and modernizing phase’ to take sides, consciously or pre-consciously, and thus to choose between different positions possible in view of the social conditions and developments which they objectively encounter.

If the category of ‘modernity’ is of Western origin, the phenomenon of social transformation here described (a phenomenon which concerns the relations of production and class relations as well as the productive forces)  and the socio-cultural reactions to this transformation process are not per se ‘Western’ or ‘European.’

We want to explain this by referring to transformations in China which announced themselves at the end of the 19th century in the form of reform tendencies and which were laid bare more openly in the context of the May 4th movement in, we might say, a very offensive and radical form.

Lu Xun has formulated as distinctly and determinedly as no one before him the question regarding the character of ths cultural revolution, or sociocultural ‘modernization thrust’ which concerned both the immanently literary means of production (the question whether the artists were, with regard to their literary techniques [Kunstmittel] as advanced as was possible at the time, to use the words of Tretiakov or, for that matter, Walter Benjamin) and the ‘contents’, that is to say, the semantic realm, the question how they had to confront and were in fact confronted, as writers, with the changes and the real contradictions of their own time.

The answer was beyond doubt that the renewal of Chinese literature (as well as that of the entire socioculture of this country) was not a culturally revolutionary phenomenon which could be seen as nothing but a reflection of European-North American influence,mediated at most by a Meiji Japan that had previously succumbed to Western influence. Rather, Lu Xun recognized the process of interference which we will again come back to in discussing Taiwan’s post-war modern literatire. Because somebody EATS BEEF, he IS NOT TURNING INTO A COW for this reason, he formulated sharply and correctly and polemically, stressing thereby the active side of the process of reception in China, with regard to the often overemphasized ‘all-determinining’ significance of foreign influences.(14) 

He thus interfered in a debate posing the wrong alternative of opting for either a ‘purely national’ Chinese literature indebted only to its own, traditional socio-cultural heritage, or advocating a strategy of wholehearted adoption of and immersion in foreign models, foreign influences. An alternative, he showed, that lets us choose between dogmatic rejection of each and every outside impulse, on the one hand,  and uncritical, supposedly passive adoption of an idealized Western ‘modernity’ (and ‘modernism’),  on the other, is as mistaken as is the opinion that modernity is synonymous with Western (or European) modernity and that modernization can only signify adoption of a Western (European and/or North American) model of modernization and one’s own extradition to this model: this, of course, touches to this very day upon the key questions of the debate on modernization and ‘modernity’ when reflected on a world-wide scale.

We have to make clear that the category of ‘modernity’ is an oscillating, ideological category which refers to the reflection of ruptures  [Brueche] or transitions within the social ‘foundation’ (the productive ‘base’ of societies) and which is taking on concrete and specific meanings according to the input of different subjects or acteurs of the sociocultural  (literary, artistic, philosophical, etc.) process, an input which implies interesting and far-reaching choices and decisions of a partly conscious and partly pre- or subconscious type).

We have to make clear that there exists not only a European and/or North American ‘modernity’ but likewise a Chinese one, an Arab one,  a South American one, etc.
And possibly these (sociocultural) phenomena are in turn divided, so that we encounter an affirmative as well as a critical European/North American modernist tendency. And, let’s say, an Arab modernist tendency which opens up to a large degree and at the same time uncritically to the dominant European and North American influences (15), and another one which seeks to confront both the problem of ‘cultural imperialism’ and (on the other hand) that of ‘national identity’ as unsolved problems to be tackled, thus linking up objectively with the debate carried on by Lu Xun and others in the China of the 1920s and 30s, without being necessarily aware of or indebted to it.(16)
We face a ‘Latin’ American modernism which is full of uncritical admiration of European paradigms: for a time, it looked especially to Paris as a ‘center.’ An example of this tendency is the Argentinian writer, Luis Borges, just as in tha Arab sphere, Nagib Mahfuz who looked, above all to the works of Thomas Mann as an exemplary paradigm.(17) On the other hand, another variant of modernity in the Western hemisphere south of the Rio Grande has been looking for its own, indigenous, pre-Columbian heritage as it has made itself felt onto this very day in the lives of the subaltern classes. It is this latter tendency that has brought forth critical reactions to Europe and European or North American attempts to establish a sociocultural hegemony  if we think, for instance, of the work of Miguel Angel Asturias and  comparable authors.(18)

We want to stress here that in the case of all these currents within the specific ‘modernisms’ or ‘modernities’ (be they African, Arabic, South or South East Asian, South or Central American) it is true that in this or that way, willingly or not, consciously or not, then only the more dangerously so), it is correct to say that they have been confronted during the last one hundred years or so (if not actually, in some sense, for 200, 300, or 500 years) with the more or less dominant influences of a European and/or North American modernity situated in the center of the world system.(19)

To speak about influences, of Western literature, philosophy, art etc. - in other words, the entire Western [European and/or North American] socioculture - on Chinese literature (as part of Chinese socioculture) means to reflect these observations introduced here as a kind of avant-propos. It means to take seriously the concept of sociocultural interference, the insight that  influences of one culture do not leave another culture untouched while on the other hand those influenced (in their historically developed specificity) contribute unconsciously or consciously to the outcome of the intercultural reception process, either as blind objects of history or as awake acteurs aware  of their heritage with its strengths and deficiencies, aware of their present needs, and capable of making informed and rational choices.(20)

Finally, what we have to understand is that we are not dealing, summa summarum, merely with an interference or interaction model in the context of which an ossified, ‘own’, ‘traditional’ sociocultural reality is meeting with or hitting upon an ‘outside,’ ‘Western,’ ‘fructifying’ reality  to which we would  owe every ‘modernizing impulse.’ The issue is not ‘Chinese tradition’ vs. ‘Western modernity’ because ‘modernity’ is not to be taken automatically and according to an eurocentric way of thinking (which takes its own models and concepts as absolutes) as a synonym of ‘Western’. Indeed we have to insist (as Lu Xun and others have done) that the Chinese socio-cultural reality has brought forth and continues to bring forth, on the basis of its own [though not internationally unconnected] preconditions and contradictions, specific momets [elements] of a Chinese modernity and that in the processual context of this historical development it was possible that a preparedness for critical reception of useful impulses from outside [stemming to a large extent from certain traditions and currents in Western ‘modernity’] could originate  and further develop; something that in fact   happened side by side with uncritical and alienated/alienating reception processes.
In other words, what is at the root of Chinese modernity as we see it coming to light in the course of he 1920s, 30s, and 40s, is a conflictual process of relating both actively, productively, critically and actively (in so far productively) and uncritically both to the own heritage and to foreign heritages or parts thereof; something that in the final analysis also implied the amalgamation and incorporation of ‘foreign’ literary, philosophical, artistic, and other contributions into the ‘own’ culture, thereby ‘enriching’ this culture, i.e. affecting in one way or other its further development.(21)

Such an approach to the problem of intercultural relations cannot fail to note, however, that the phenomenon of ‘open frontiers,’ of  opening up to ‘foreign’ influences (in our times, usually Western, i.e. U.S. and European), while it undeniably holds out the promise of ‘enriching’ a  culture, can also entail a tendential dynamics of a different sort:  it can bolster a trend of certain social forces within one’s own culture to idealize Western ‘modernity’ and interpret it as ‘the’ modern culture, ‘the’ modern achievement, per se.

Indeed,  such tendencies have been observable, after 1947, in Taiwan in the form of an intensive ‘Americanization’
(a process with both ‘local’ and ‘foreign’ actors involved). 
This was especially the case after the KMT-inspired propaganda literature of army officers turned writers and dutiful housewifes had been delegated to the scrapheap of history whereas a young generation of writers was aspiring to ‘international reputation’ and the attainment of a so-called ‘international niveau.’
Even though the culturally conservative social forces within the KMT bureaucracy attacked this partly ‘existentialist,’ partly ‘psychoanalytically inspired’ literature (produced by those who were formed in the writers’ workshops of Iowa and elsewhere) as ‘cosmopolitan’ and dangerous, as ‘pan-sexualist’ and ‘nihilist,’  the more and more dominant, pragmatic elements within the KMT and the journalists indebted to this - the sole legal - ‘ruling party’ (in power, since the mid 1940s, thanks to US protection and brutal application of martial law) soon discovered this ‘modernist’ literary fashion as commendably ‘international’ at the very moment when it proved necessary to denounce the socially critical realist writer of Taiwan, the shantu wenxue school of social realists, as merely provincial, dated, and lacking in literary quality.

This reinterpretation of the ‘young,’ ‘modern’ literature in Taiwan occurred before the backdrop of incipient changes regarding the political rapport de forces, furthermore in the context of fast, though dependent industrialization, and the formation of a prospering ‘middle class’ which indirectly profited from the export boom and the increased demand within the interior market, while the direct producers in the factories and the countryside were increasingly falling back, in relative terms.

The ‘internationally’ oriented, modern Taiwanese literature is not only a literature which turned away from the paradigm of the propaganda literature dominating the literary scene in the years and decades after 1947 [i.e., after the wave of repression touching also the cultural sphere, that followed the massacres of Feb. 28, 1947]. To a certain extent, it was also a deeply tradition-less, gratuitious and rootless literature that attempted to copy (and thus, without any real attempt at mediation, sought to link up with) foreign, above all French models (Ionesco, Beckett, Camus) and to some extent, certain North American influences.

Why this was so is easily understandable if we ask ourselves: Who were the acteurs (or subjects) of this, admittedly diverse and differentiated, literary movement that still had certain important elements, or structural affinities, in common? 
The new, modern literature (modern: this category implied to them that they wanted to achieve something that could be equated with Western forms of modernism!) was, largely, the specific product of a new, young generation. It bears witness to the nausea of the ‘children’ of writing army officers and housewives, confronted with a literature that was practically the only one permitted in Taiwan for a number of years; a literature in fact not worthy of this name.  And it bears witness to political and cultural conditions which helped to isolate these privileged children of the ‘middle classes’ (by amd large graduates of universities in Taiwan, and increasingly also of US universities) in a certain sense while still furthering a new, and selective openess vis à vis ‘the world’ (or what was taken to be ‘the world’). Cut off and isolated they were until the mid or late 1970s, and perhaps even beyond that date, from their own literature, representing Classical Chinese modernity: works mostly published on the mainland, in the wake of the May 4th movement, that were now indexed, banned from the libraries and curricula of the universities; works not  talked about at best, if their authors (renowned writers such as Lao Shi, Mao Dun, Lu Xun, Ba Jin, Cao Yu) were not openly defamed.(22)  This official strategy of defamation targeted even those authors from Taiwan who were obliged  to use, during the period of occupation (until 1945) the Japanese language whereas their sujets and their reflection of vibrant issues of their time made them unquestionably Chinese. It may suffice here to mention two leading representatives of this critical Taiwanese literature put in ideological quarantine  by the KMT regime: Wu Tso-liu and Chiang Gui. 

Under these conditions, the revolt of the young middle class authors in post-war Taiwan against the propaganda literature furthered by the Taipei regime could only be an individualist and ‘cosmopolitan’ one - which took refue to foreign (Western) models to the extent that they were accessible.
The revolting young writers thus were largely unaware of important contributions achieved by Chinese modern literature before 1947. In this sense it is just and correct to say that modern(ist) Taiwanese literature in the 1960s and 70s surfaced anew, without a real and sufficient knowledge of its own, objective history at a time when the official pseudo-literature (that was little more than anti-communist propaganda literature) went bankrupt: a current that reflected essentially the ideology and political slogans of the KMT regime and that was represented by the so-called ‘Three Fighters in the Army’ (junzhong san jianke): Sime Zhongyuan, Zhu Xining and Dun Caihua.

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Looking back to this development from today, we may say that the new rise of post-war modern literature in Taiwan was a passive reaction, a protest of writers of genuine talent, against a propaganda literature that literally discredited itself.

It is furthermore undeniable that the new literature was largely a product of ‘interference’  (interference, comprehended socioculturally, but nonetheless analogous to interference in physics) between the historically formed socio-cultural reality of  Taiwan in the 1960s and early 70s, and  - on the other hand - foreign, mostly North American and West European influences: the latter, in the main, mediated by English translations published in the US. 
These influences, of course, did not represent the entirety (the entire spectrum, so to speak) of US and European cultural production. Even ‘Western culture’ was accessed selectively, and was selectively accessible, at least ‘importable.’ Especially the more critical tendencies of the West remained taboo in Taiwan.  The fact that most young authors from Taiwan at the time stressed the literariness of literature while shying away from littérature engagé speaks for itself. It also meant that an option of special interest to some of us who are today studying the history of Taiwanese [Chinese!] modernity, was slighted if not ignored.(23) We are referring here to the tendencies expressed by the shantu wenxue current, a new form of social realism in Taiwan with links to previous, subsequently defamed and outlawed modern Chinese traditions as well as specific European influences (Gorki etc.), already encountered in the pre-war period.

That much said, it is to be discussed at least to what extent the Taiwanese literature of the 1960s and early 70s that was understood at the time  as modernist and in fact, the beginning of ‘modern literature’ in Taiwan, is connected to a current or currents of an earlier, Chinese modern literature of the 1920s, 30s, and 40s which was not outlawed in Taiwan.(24)

If we consider the literary phenomenon here discussed as one that originated in the 1960s, we must not forget that it had without doubt forerunners. Already in the 50s, there could be heard what a number of Taiwanese critics refer to as ‘the modern voice’ in our literature. Nothing seemed more appropriate at the time as an expression of ‘purely literary rebellion’ than poetry: a poetry that mirrored an individualist form of protest as well as reflecting the considerable feelings of alienation then virulent in the young writers concerned. Considered relatively harmless, it was the poetic genre which allowed certain writers to proceed towards a break with a ‘tradition’ that was defined as ‘neo-Confucian,’ ‘traditional,’ and ‘anti-communist.’(25)

We discover, however, in looking more closely at this phenomenon that the young students and incipient writers (confronted most obviously with foreign influences at the time) did not necessarily evolve as the only catalysts or even as the writers who triggered the  new literary ‘start’ [revival; Aufbruch].  Rather, connections with pre-war Chinese literature are apparent especially in the field of poetry. 
Thus, the poet Ji Xuan, who had already published modernist poetry before the end of the Chinese civil war, and whose name is usually associated with that of another poet, Dai Wangshu, founded the journal Xiandaishi (Modern Poetry) in Taiwan as early as 1953.
Three years later, he founded the Xiandaishishe (Modern Poetry Association). It counted more than 80 members, among them such young poets as Fang Si, Zheng Chouyu, Xinyu, and Bai Quin. They also referred to themselves as xiandaipai (‘the Moderns’). 
The aim of these poets was to start a ‘revolution of modern poetry’ in Taiwan. In reaction to a literature instrumentalized by the Taipei regime, there surfaces a strong tendency to assert the autonomy of literature, even though it is claimed that one does not want to recede completely into the ivory tower of an unconditional l’art pour l’art attitude. At least some of these modernist Taiwan poets were too ‘anti-bourgeois’ in an individualist, even existentialist sense, to opt for that strategy.(26)

A literary critic at the time summed up this modernist revival, as well as the specific  debate and the diverse forms of poetical practice it soon triggered, as follows:
“Everything that could be derived from Baudelaire was either rejected or circulated.“
This assumption hits the nail on the head. As far as the essence of the new ‘modernism’ is concerned, the example of Baudelaire’s attitude seems of  central importance. Obviously, this was a modernism which implied at once ‘protest’ and a surrender in the face of overwhelming non-literary conditions; conditions that were partly ignored and which one, at best, pretended to question by relying on form as supreme while perceiving ‘aesthetics’ as an absolute end in itself.

Critics at the time spoke of a ‘horizontal implantation’ as well as an ‘epiphany’ of modern Western literary models and paradigms,  confirming thus the adoption of both formal and thematic obsessions typical of 20th century Western sociocultures. Precise reference to these models became a prerequisite for any acknowledgement of ‘literary quality’  on the part of the more  ‘renowned’ critics as well as those who defined the ‘guide lines’ of literary production, with a view of furthering the development of Western poetry in Taiwan.

At the time, the main platforms of the movement, in addition to Xiandaishi, were Lanxing (Blue Star) and Chuangshiji (Genesis).

These were without doubt the journals which helped revive Chinese  poetry in Taiwan after a period of incessant decline.

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If we may well assume that modern Chinese poetry in Taiwan in these years was both formally and in terms of its ‘themes’ almost unilaterally influenced by the West (and this despite certain connections with traditions of Chinese modernist pre-war poetry that reflected a strong position in favor of the ‘autonomy’ and non-commitment of all art), this is perhaps less true of modern prose.

The ‘modernization of prose in Taiwan, in response to KMT  propaganda literature, was attempted initially by a small group of intellectuals. 
In 1956, Xia Jian, then a professor at Taida [Taiwan University, in Taipei] founded the famous literary magazine Wenxue Zazhi  (Literature Journal).
In its first issue, he addressed his readers as follows:
“We live in a confused time. We do not want to become naggers but we also do not want to turn into escapists dodging reality. Rather, it is our belief that any serious writer has to reflect the spirit of the times. Though we do not reject the beautiful and artful language, we believe that it is even more important to say the truth.“ 
This shows clearly that Professor Xia derived his ideas from the traditions of realism. Wenxue Zazhi fulfilled its function by furthering such writers as Bai Xianyong, Chen Rueshi, Wang Wenxing, and Ouyangzi who were students at the time and who later on became well known authors, even outside Taiwan. In 1959, Professor Xia left Taiwan and went to the U.S.; the journal Wenxue Zazhi was replaced by another one, called Xiandai Wenxue (Modern Literature), founded by Bai Xianyong. (27) The professed goal of this journal was to introduce Taiwanese readers (and on-going writers) to Western literature; it also aimed to “reflect the phenomena of the time.“ A l’art pour l’art position was rejected.

Between 1960 and 1973, Xiandai Wenxue presented texts by numerous Western authors to its audience in the 51 issues that appeared in this period. 
The first issue introduced the readers to Kakfa. 
There followed, amongst others, Thomas Mann, Joyce,  D.H. Lawrence, V. Woolf, Sartre, Faulkner and Henry James.

The orientation towards Western models and the price paid, a complete neglect of pre-war Modern Chinese literary traditions, is amply visible.

It is possible in facr to draw a parallel between post-Worl War II literary trends in Taiwan on the one hand and, for instance, West Germany and Italy, on the other. 
In the West Germany of the late 40s and of the 50s, the ascendant debris literature (Truemmerliteratur, a literature of writers picking up the shards after Fascism had smashed Europe, killings tens of millions, including six million Jews, in what was the latest and most terribly ‘industrialized’ genocide committed by Europeans) ignored a pre-war heritage largely unknown to young writers who had grown up under fascism, a modern literary tradition that was best represented by authors driven into exile: Heinrich Mann, Anna Seghers, Feuchtwanger, Horwath, Klaus Mann, Brecht, Kisch, Piscator - even Doeblin, who was perhaps the least publicly ignored after the war, being a ‘modernist’  who had been influences, to some extent, by the American writer John Dos Passos. What was now replacing critical pre-war modern literature was a strong US influence. The young people starting to write, nauseated by the NAZI propaganda literature they knew and without much experience as authors, avidly turned to Hemingway, and US prose of a similar calibre. 
In Italy, young writers like Cesare Pavese had already discovered American literature in the last few years of Italian fascism. They triggered a similar orientation towards US models.

The political and literary constellations in this regard that can be discovered in post-civil war Taiwan are very similar. What we see is a Cold War constellation: the critical pre-war heritage is taboo; on the other hand, authoritarian alternatives in the arts (furthered by Fascism in Europe, by the KMT in Taiwan) have discredited themselves, last not least due to the non-ignorable lack of what critics call ‘literary quality.’
Only two escape routes are open: on the one hand, a tendency, within literature (and the other arts) which sees art as neutral, as as strictly an expression of the individual and its autonomy; this is a tendency that had already played a certain role, inter alia, before the war, in the respective socio-cultures.  Secondly, there are the models offered by “the great contemporary authors“ of “Western modernism.“ And Western modernism, as it is now perceived in countries with a fascist or crypto-fascist past like Taiwan, Italy, or Germany that have just entered the US orbit, is of course a ‘modernity’ filtered by a US socio-culture; a modernity from which modernists like Lu Xun and Gorki, Tretiakov and Brecht in literature, Rosselini and Mizoguchi (and even a film like The Grapes of Wrath, by the famous US director John Ford) in film as an art form, were excluded. In other words, much of what was an intrinsic and enriching part of modern Western as well as modern Asian socio-cultures, a part without the knowledge of which many debates cannot be comprehended, was stricken ou and censored and suppressed in one’s thinking.(28)  The circumstances of the time brought about a selective and restricted reception of the professedly embraced Western socio-cultural contribution and  - as a consequence of years of unrelenting censureship in Taiwan - also of certain Japanese socio-cultural influences which were considered anathema.
The wide variety of authors presented by Xiandai Wenxue mirrors the then current  situation; it reflects an understanding that is certainly a ‘pluralistic’ one, but it is also unmistakably influenced by circumstances excluding alternatives, and thus  appears as contradictory.
Still, the journal cannot be equated with a narrowly dogmatic position. 

Many observers have attempted to distill a ‘common structure’ of Taiwanese modernist works. According to a majority of critics in Taiwan, its modern post-war literature is charactized as ‘anti-traditional,’ ‘anti-authoritarian,’ influenced by psycho-analytically inspired insights,  and extremely ‘artificial,’ as far as its language is concerned.(29) The works of most modern Taiwanese prose writers appear indeed to reflect a ‘mixture’ of influences that can be traced to Western post-war modernist literatures which are defined as ‘free of ideology’ and that claim to pronounce the autonomy of the individual, on the one hand and, on the other, older Western influences incorporated by a-political Chinese pre-war ‘modern’ writing. 
If the critics are right, we can say that the young authors representing a new ‘modernity’ in the Taiwan of the early 60s were oscillating between two poles of attraction: realism and a sort of surrealism. If we want to use a term coined by the German literary critic, Volker Klotz, we can say that they oscillated between an ‘open’ and a ‘closed form’ of their art.

*       *
A telling example of the prevailing ‘realist’ as well as ‘surreal’ tendencies of ‘modernist’ Taiwanese literature is the work of Qidengsheng.
A brief glimpse at his life and the list of his works may elucidate this.

The real name of Qidengsheng is Liu Wuxiong. When choosing his pseudonym as a writer, he composed it by selecting the Chinese characters Qi Zhu Si Shang, thereby indicating his preference and deep admiration for the so-called ‘Seven Saints of the Bamboo Grove’ (Zhulin qixian), of the Qin dynasty period.

Liu Wuxiong was born in 1939 in the coastal town of Tongxiao, situated in the Miaoli district. His father was an official during the period of Japanese occupation; he was made redundant after Taiwan was liberated and remained jobless until his death in 1952.(30)

When his father died, Qidengsheng was 13.  He grew up under difficult conditions. He attended the Teacher’s College in Taipei, studying music and art. Very early on, he developed a penchant for writing. When age 23, he published his first story, Shiye Puke Zhayouyu. Being aware of the misère characteristic of his immediate surroundings and also unable to lead a conformist life, he gave up his job as a primary school teacher. Between 1965 and 1970, he and his wife had to accept various jobs in order to make ends meet; they survived as best they could, until he was finally allowed to return to his job as a school teacher in 1970. In other words, he feels that he had to accept the fact that it was impossible  to be responsible for the upkeep of a family and to opt at the same time for an ‘anti-bourgeois’ (or bohemian) form of existence.
From 1983 to 1984 he was invited to teach and discuss creative writing at the University of Iowa, as an ‘international visiting author.’ He retired from service as a teacher in 1990, and ever since has lived from his income as an author.

Until 1991, the date when a first draft of this article was presented to a conference of Comparative Literature scholars in Berlin, Qidengsheng wrote numerous poems and prose texts.
An exact list of his publications, among them such well-known works as Heiyanzhu yu wo, Woai heiyanzhu, Heiyangzhu xuji, Shouxue de linghun, Cheng zhi mi, Jiangju, Shahe beige, Laidou xiaozheng de yazibie, Laofuren, Lese, and Yinpo Chibang, shows that among the Taiwanese writers that began to produce literary works in the 1960s, Qidengsheng stands out as special. In contrast to the writers of so-called ‘Native Literature’ (shantu wenxue) who focused on the misery of lowly and underprivileged people, the direct producers in the countryside and the cities,  at a time of brutal industrialization and who undoubtedly referred to pre-war European models of realism and naturalism but even more so to their pre-war Chinese counterparts, Qidengsheng embraces a different strategy in order to portrait protagonists not well-adapted to the norms of ‘bourgeois’ society.
The constellation of persons figuring in his works again and again reflects the binary opposition of ‘bourgeois’ and ‘anti-bourgeois’ (or ‘not well-adapted’, non-cobformist, bohemian, etc.). Remarkably enough, his ‘anti-bourgeois’ protagonists do not automatically fail in life. His heroes do not die suddenly, or perish slowly and in utter loneliness under extremely difficult conditions. Some remain faithful to the ideals embraced early on in their lives, and yet they attend their goal, being in their own small way successful even though they remain inescapably entangled in the painful conditions and social relationships of Taiwanese socio-culture. 

The figures of his prose works embrace and reflect the ‘philosophy of life’ typical of Qidengsheng, a point of view frequently expressed by one of his typical oxymora: phrases like “Viewing with cold eyes the hustle and bustle of life, experiencing with a burning heart the sad and grey life...“. We are mistaken if we think that Qidengsheng’s narratives are not indebted to realism (as is maintained overwhelmingly by most critical works published on this author).  On the contrary, most protagonists and occurrences in Qidengsheng’s works are so real and ordinary that we can hardly say which of their qualities are owed to ‘reality’ and which are owed to fiction (or ‘art’). Qidengsheng’s works are confessions from his childhood, works reflecting the time when he grew up, and generally speaking they bear witness to his development as a person.

His more recent works show that he also is concerned about the more and more catastrophic environmental damage wrought by a ruthless way of development and its dynamics of industrialization and urbanization driven above all by the profit motif; in addition, he is seemingly aware, in these texts, of the conflicts and contraditions between the KMT regime and the opposition parties which have been legalized recently.

The feature of his work that seems to have buttressed the mistaken reading of his work as ‘surrealist’ is no doubt his specific language, his ‘style,’  which appears to many Chinese readers as ‘Western.’ However, there are also certain elements on the thematic level in his oeuvre which may have  been strongly influenced by European or North American literary works of art. It is these facets which contribute to the impression of many Taiwanese readers that his writings are ‘strange’ and ‘hard to understand,’ especially if we look at passages with a certain existentialist bend.

In his correspondence with the Taiwanese co-author of this article, as well as the foreword of some of his works, Qidengsheng lets us know that he loved to read, and in fact imitated, Franz Kafka and Jiminez. Being also a painter who makes and mixes the colors he is using, he thinks that a writer has to ‘mix his colors’ just like a painter, and just like a composer he has to shape language according to his own rhythm.

If we want to sum up the characteristic traits of his rich and multi-layered literarary production, we can say:

1. His works bear witness to their own, very specific, anti-traditional ‘linguistic logic.’ This is to say that the author ends, if necessary, towards ‘his own’ - experimental - use of the Chinese language, as his material. Something that at times ‘impedes general comprehensibility.’ This tendency of his seems to have been borrowed from ‘modern Western’ models of the post WWII period. It is typical for Qidengsheng that he tends for instance to do without interpunction, following his own logic of speech. The result reminds us of stream of consciousness techniques in Anglo-Saxon (British and North American) novels and as a consequence of this strategy, the reception of his works demands a considerable effort on the part of the reader.
The Taiwanese critic Liu Shaoning is critical of this technique, argueing that Qidengsheng’s sentences "suffer of polyomyelitis, and therefore are unable to stand by themselves,"  requiring rather a wider textual continuum, a continued textual flow. Another critic, Ma Sen, argued however that Qidengsheng is, in this regard, a genius, an unpolished jade stone from Taiwan.
2. We notice a symptomatic and meaningful occurrence of something that has been called, occasionally, ‘an Asian way of thinking,’ packaged, interestingly enough, in ‘Western garb.’
Here, we find interesting starting points for a well-founded micro-analysis of Western influences on modern Chinese literature in Taiwan, which should also allow the researcher to countercheck the interference hypothesis.
3. Qidengsheng’s oeuvre is centrally focused on the discovery of the Self  and on psychoanalysis. At the same time, it is a kind of ‘modern literature’ which programmatically confirms the position of ‘autonomous art’ and which subscribes  to the hypothesis of the ‘autonomous individuum.’ It reflects the position that the artist, as a creative human being, is at odds with the day-to-day concerns of his ‘more normal contemporaries.’
Clearly, this oeuvre is based on the experiences of the author’s own life, with its richness and limitations and idiosyncrasies, the many hard edges and obstacles which inflict wounds and bring about joyful moments whe mastered. All this lets us think of the autonomy of the author as, in fact, a limited one, defined and restricted by objective conditions and interests (whether he is aware of them, in his writings, or not). His interest in psychoanalysis serves to make possible a confrontation with himself as well as as a tentative definition of himself; in his works, the effects of his psychoanalytical interest can also prove stimulating and fructifying for his readers.
4. Furthermore, we discover distinct autobiographical elements in his works. This becomes clear if we remember that his basic pattern in not that of the disillusioning texts of Kafka; it is rather a pattern that projects a certain kind of hope to find one’s own little sphere of happiness: a space where to withdraw, in the face of a sordid and cruel reality.
This twist seems to mirror in a way his personal experience as a writer, especially after finding a certain amount of recognition in Iowa and therefore also in his native Taiwan.
5. Finally, as far as the political dimension of his work is concerned, it does not seem to go beyond what, at a given time, could be said without having to face severe repressive measures in Taiwan.  Although he certainly was not the ‘darling’ of the KMT cultural bureaucracy, it is possible to say that he never took the kind of risks taken by such authors as for instance Chen Yinzhen or Bo Yang.

*        *

Qidengsheng is perhaps not the typical, but a very distinct and even prolific writer among Taiwan’s Western-inspired post-war modernists. Writers like him gave credence to the claim of Taiwan’s critics that for the first time, a modern literature worth its name surfaced on the island, a literature that attained international standards of literary quality.

This is not the occasion to confront a current of post-war ‘modernism’ which came to dominate the Taiwanese literary scene since the 1960s with another, more realist current that was linking up consciously with Chinese pre-war literary ‘modernity,’  i.e. the shantu wenxue writers. Rather, we want to briefly survey the factors that explain why  Western ‘modernist’ models were avidly received by many authors in Taiwan especially since the 1960s and 70s.

We witness in fact some structural factors which help explain this reception process and which we think it necessary to enumerate at least, even though here we do not find the space to suffienciently analyse them  in detail:

I. The anti-authoritarian reaction against the ‘cultural program’ of the KMT

This reaction was a product  or result of the relative emancipation of a rising middle class, or more accurately, their young offspring, attending ‘liberal’ universities abroad, especially in the US. Perhaps, initially, the phenomenon or carefully limited dissent was spread initially by US educated Chinese teachers at Taiwan’s universities. Its appearance was tantamonut to a certain, individualist revolt against the decreed ‘neo-Confucian renaissance.’ Works opposing or ‘undermining’ the official Conservative and ‘traditionalist’ program of the KMT regime influenced a certain number of readers, especially among academic circles, the liberal professions, educated white collar people, and to some extent also among university and perhaps even middle school students.

II. The factual separation of Taiwan from the People’s Republic of China

This separation cemented the cultural attitude of sauve qui peut la vie, a logic that was draped in emancipatory though individualist garb. Such a tendency that propagated individualism (in the face of more deeply rooted rural traditions of mutual help and collective dependency on each other) reflected the strong wind of  competition that not only Taiwanese capitalists (often mere subcontractors of international capital) but also the rising bourgeois middle classes were faced with. It created a climate that trickled down by way of the labor market, accelerating considerably the rhythm of daily life in Taiwan in the post-war decades. The tendency perhaps was also strong and successful because of the fact that Taiwan was under martial law until well into the 1980s.

III. The ‘Americanization tendencies’ felt in Taiwan

The political and economic hegemony established by the US had and has its cultural dimensions. This means good preconditions for the marketing of American cultural commodities, furthering the spread of US ideas, values, literary fashions, and aesthetic preferences - although it would be wrong to say that they were absorbed in Taiwan without undergoing certain changes. They contributed however to a far-reaching reception of contemporary Western literary ‘models’ and thus to a great impact of a certain ‘modernity.’
On the other hand, this cultural impact, to the extent that it penetrated not only the middle classes but pragmatic factions of the KMT bureaucracy, did not only serve to finish off the old, supposedly ‘neo-Confucian’ and starkly ‘anti-Communist’ propaganda literature of the 1950s. It also helped construct an ideological bulwark against critical social realism with Chinese-Taiwanese roots, at least in the regime-dominated media and in large sections of academia.

Perhaps, however, the opposition between strongly Western-influenced ‘modernist’ currents in Taiwan and critical, realist shantu wenxue trends is not an absolute one. We hope that it was possible to show to what extent authors like Qidengsheng, although they belong to the first current, in some sense also seem to succeed in bridging the gap.


* A much shorter version of this article was first presented by Prof. Kuo Ming-fong at a conference on comparative literature in Berlin in 1991. As it stands now, the article was completed in 1995. - For technical reasons, we omit footnotes written in Chinese. 

1. The term ‘modernity’ without doubt has been impregnated with the trace of debates led in Western languages; it has largely come to reflect a kind of ‘thinking’ that is subjected to a real or pretended Western cultural hegemony. Cf. H.U. Gumbrecht, 'Modern, Modernität, Moderne', in: O. Brunner et al.(hg.), Geschichtliche Grundbegriffe, Bd. 4, Stuttgart 1978, S.93-131; cf. also: 
J. Habermas, Der philosophische Diskurs der Moderne, Frankfurt/M. 1985; and the relevant contributions of  A.J. Gurjewitsch, W. Freund, Jacob Burckhardt, J. Delumeau, A.C. Crombie, R.Olson, A. Schindling etc. 

2. Up to now the misconception lingers on in the West, but also in the People’s Republic of China and on Taiwan that ‘modern’ Chinese socioculture and the literature that forms part of it are a product of ‘radical Westernization.’ On the other hand, even C.T.Hsia who has himself been so deeply confronted with Western influences, contradicted this assumption. In his ground-breaking work on modern Chinese fiction he draws a clear line between the latter and the “example and challenge of Western tradition“ which, on the other hand, provided essential impulses as far as „the style and direction“ of  Chinese  literature betwen 1919 and 1949 was concerned.  According to C.T.Hsia it was a stimulating example "which has informed its style and direction.“ (C.T. Hsia, A History of Modern Chinese Fiction, 1917-1957, New Haven, Conn. 1961, S. VI.) 
In his preface to Joseph Lau’s  volume of prose narratives from Taiwan, Hsia is very explicit: "Even during the May Fourth period, (...) tradition was never something entirely repudiated." (C.T. Hsia, "Foreword", in: Joseph S.M. Lau (hg.), Chinese Stories from Taiwan: 1960-1970, New York 1976, S.XV) 

3. Cf., with regard to China: K'ang Yu-wei, Konfuzius als Reformer. This is a strikingly important contribution to the then necessary reform debate which consciously links up with a traditional (proto-)reformism and rationalism and which attempts, in Kang Yu-wei’s eyes, to reconstitute and revitalize an essential ‘heritage’ buried under the rubble left by generations oblivious to its relevance. 
A material aspect of  a modernization which at least in part drew on China’s own strength ad traditions is the rise of a proto-industrial textile industry, based on the ‘manufactory’ and ‘putting out system’ that existed, for instance, in 16th and 17th century Suzhou. In the early 20th century, these traditions form, in a certain sense, the Chinese roots or basis of the new mechanized textile industry emerging which otherwise relies on Western precedents, the dispersion of Western know how, on imported machinery, and  native as well as foreign markets. 
Regarding Japan, we are well-advised to remember Max Weber’s reflections on the proto-capitalist tendencies that made themselves felt in that country even before the forced ‘opening’ by Commodore Perry. Cf. also the recent suggestions regarding certain innovative processes during the Edo period that Schwentker presented during the Breuninger Colloquium. 

4. As far as the hypothesis of radical Westernization of non-western (often colonial or semi-colonial) cultures is concerned, we discover a strange alliance between Western ideologue defending the present-day hegemony of the US and its junior partners in W. Europe and Japan, and the uncritical representatives of  Third World ‘elites’ enchanted by Western technology and Western  consumerism. Both are inclined to defend the exclusive ‘progressiveness’ and ‘validity’ of Western culture under the flag of a supposed ‘universality’ of Western values.  What lends their arguments such much strength is the real presence and violent weight of Western cultural penetration. But it is undeniable, at any rate, that the seductiveness of images transporting the Western model of a ‘consumer society’ is so much stronger than the promises of Western enlightenment, of humanity, rationality, and fast technological progress. But even these latter promises prove ambivalent if not mere ‘mirages.’ - 
Pierre Bourdieu presently sees the politico-economic dynamics of out time as ynonymous with a game that the West is winning. (Interview with Pierre Bourdieu, in: Frankfurter Rundschau, Jan. 26, 1994, p. 7) What we get is - in the words of Majed Nehmé -  the attempt to unify the world on the basis of market forces ("unifier le monde 'par et sur la base du marche'") (Majed Nehmé, in: Afrique Asie, No. 34-35, July-Aug., 1992, p.69)  Therefore it is illusory to depart from the opinion that an equality of ‘chances’ exist with regard to intercultural exchange processes any more than in other areas where commodities are being exchanged. (This seems true no matter whether  we are looking at the sphere of philosophy, the social sciences, literature, television, cinema, theater, or painting).But existingly this lopsidedness of  cultural relations, under present conditions, makes the willingness to dutifully embrace Western cultural models so fatal and so destructive. It has perhaps never been more important to reflect on one’s ‘own’ needs, and become conscious of one’s ‘own heritage,’  in order to have a somewhat better chance to be an equal partner in the process of (necessary) intercultural exchange. Everything else cwould be defeatism. 

5. The renaissance und humanism mark the beginning,  in Europe, of what is called in Italy 'età moderna', in England  the 'modern age,'   and in Germany 'Neuzeit'. 
(Cf. R. Olson, Science Deified and Science Defied - The Historic Significance of Science in Western Culture, London 1991; G. Ritter, Via antiqua und via moderna auf den deutschen Universitäten des XV. Jahrhunderts, Darmstadt 1975; Jakob Burkhardt, Die Kultur der Renaissance in Italien, Leipzig 1913.) 

6.  Wallerstein has pointed out the link between the Spanish reconquista and the emergence of the modern world system dominated by Europe. The 'early Capitalist' tendencies which Pirenne, Tawney, and others noticed in Flanders and Lombardy since the 13th and 14th century received a boost with the European thrust overseas,  and the emergence of pre-eminent Atlantic seaport cities (Sevilla, Cadiz, Lisboa, La Rochelle, Bordeaux, Nantes, Rouen, Amsterdam, London, Bristol, etc.).The boost that European commercial capitalistist strata in these (then dominant) cities received from overseas expansion, colonial trade, and in some cases, piracy, translated into a new cultural assertiveness. 

7. The  renaissance as a  European cultural phenomenon (with specific forms or appearances, in different emerging national cultures and even in different regions within the framework of these cultues) cannot be regarded and understood separately from the urban development of the  economically and culturally most progressive regions, such as Northern Italy and Flanders. It is a reflection of the relative emancipation of commercial bourgeois urban strata, of the expansion and tentative modernization of the urban productive bases (and its beginning spread to the conzryside); it is also a reflection of emerging, inner-urban forms of conflict. The importance of early capitalist beginnings as a factor influencing the cultural developments known as the renaissance has been suggested repeatedly, thus by Henri Pirenne and  Henri Hauser. Especially the Weberian hypothesis concerning the ‘Protestant ethics’ as a factor in the rise of Capitalism  (a well-known hypothesis that idealistically hypostasizes the fact that the historical dynamics of an economic  basis which prepared and  instigated the religious ‘reform’ movements in N. Italy, Germany, Flanders, and the French Atlantic  port cities, found itself in turn confronted with the cultural impact of the ‘reformation’)  gave rise to  important studies regarding the relationship between religion and early Capitalist trends in Catholic  Lombardy (thus by Tawney). Cf. also: J.L. Romero, La revolucion burguesa en el mundo feudal, Buenos Aires 1967; J. Lestocquoy, Aux origines de la bourgeoisie des villes de Flandre et d'Italie sous le gouvernement des patriciens, XI-XVe siècle, Paris 1952) 

7. It is to Litvinoff that we owe the arguments pointing to the historical congruence of the accomplished 'reconquista' (re-conquest of Arab, Maghrebinian, Southern Spain) and the beginning of European modernity which have also been interpreted as the beginnings of the world system (= the colonization, repression and exploitation of Third World populations and the incipient ‘becoming real’ [Realwerden] of the world market). Cf. B. Litvinoff, 1492 - The Decline of Medievalism and the Rise of the Modern Age, London 1991; with reference to the category of the ‘world system’, cf. especially: I. Wallerstein, The Modern World System, vol. 1: Capitalist Agriculture and The Origins of the European World-Economy in the 16th Century, New York 1976 

8. The publications on this ‘Classical modernity’ (which makes itself felt both in literature and the arts, in the sphere of philosophy and in that of the natural sciences) are to numerous to be listed here. Within the hegemonial discourse of our times, no doubt an understanding of this category has gained undisputed validity that equates the end of the 19th century with the cultural transformation phase or break ushering in ‘modernity’, modern literature, modern art, etc. While, in this way, the ‘modern’ beginnings at the time of the renaissance are suppressed from historical consciusness, it is at best the period of enlightenment, and of the French revolution which can be tentatively encompassed (as forerunners, or forebodings) of the modernist form of expression gaining dominance since 1900. In fact this 20th century modernity arose from the crisis of the 1870s-1890s, the ‘Long Depression,’ it was fanned by the fin de siècle spirit, and received a catastrophic boost by the brutalities of WWI that had to be stomached. 

9. It is wothwhile to mention here an interesting contribution  characterized by the attempt not to cut the link between immaterial cultural phenomena and their material (social, politico-economic) frame of reference (in the context of European socio-culture). We are talking here of an essay by Helmuth Plessner, "Über die gesellschaftlichen Bedingungen der modernen Malerei", in: H. Plessner, Gesammelte Schriften, Bd. X, Frankfurt/M. 1985, p.265-284. 

10. The plain fact that politico-economic backwardness (as far as the degree of capital accumulation and the development of ‘modern industry’ was concerned) is not synonymous with culturl backwardness, was presented in the European context by several societies of the European periophery, for instance Scandinavia, where Ibsen worked, and Russia, where Chekhov’s works threw a critical light on social reality. 

11. This reflection [Reflex] of  material (social and politico-economic) change is not always a belated one, an ‘answer’ to the questions posed by historical reality. Especially in the field of philosophy it is fairly obvious that the work of Nietzsche, for instance, which mirrored reality, being an answer to Hegel, to late 19th century  Marxism, and to the babbit-like qualities of  a Germany dreaming to rise to the position of a imperialist power, anticipated also the crisis of modernity that became apparent at the turn of the century. 
The fact that the consciousness of a crisis rampant around 1900 is not a singular phenomenon is sufficiently apparent if we consider that the present-day turmoil of the ‘global economy’ and the shake-ups between the political ‘fronts’ and ‘blocs’ lead many contemporaries to pose anew questions regarding the character of ‘modernity’, or  ‘modernism’, as well as concerning the ‘nature of the crisis.’ 
For I. Ramonet this "chaotic modernity" ("cahoteuse modernité") transforms "contemporary  society" into an unsafe vessel on a storm-ridden sea which it haphazardly traverses ("sans cap défini"). Exactly this necessitates, according to Ramonet,  wogt,  "a profound reflection on the crisis which [our society] passes through" ("une réflexion profonde sur la nature de la crise qu'elle [sc. la société contemporaine] traverse").  Cf. Ignacio Ramonet, "Le désarroi des citoyens devant un savoir en miettes", in: Des sociétés malades/De leur culture, special issue of  Le Monde diplomatique, série: Manière de voir 1, Paris 1994, p. 23) 
The crisis of western societies appears, in the eyes of some of those observing this from outside, like J.-L. Motchane, to put in question exactly that rationality and that scientific spirit which (according to its auto-image) are believed to centrally define hegemonial  Western culture. Cf.: J.-L. Motchane, "La science, barbarie de l'Occident?", in: Des sociétés malades/De leur culture, Paris 1994; cf. also: Horkheimer/Adorno, Dialektik der Aufklärung, Amsterdam 1955 (reprint of 1944 edition). 

12. Regarding the surrealist movement see the well known publication of Maurice Nadeau. An interesting glance as the New York and he Paris ‘milieus’ of the 1920s which gave rise to many important works of art of ‘Classical modernism,’ is offered by:  Kenneth W. Wheeler and Virginia Lee Lussier (eds.), The Arts and the 1920s in Paris and New York,  London 1982. 

13.The term 'art nouveau'  reflects the sense of living at the beginning of  a ‘new time’ that qute a few artists must have felt by 1900: an intellectual and emotional need to ‘make things new,’ while entering a new century. 

14. If somebody eats beef, this doesn’t turn him into a cow. "Der Verzehr von Rindfleisch verwandelt uns nicht 'automatisch' in Ochsen..." , this is translated by  H.-C. Buch/Wong May. Cf.:  Lu Hsün, Der Einsturz der Lei-feng Pagode. Essays über Literatur und Revolution in China, ed.by  H.-C. Buch and Wong May, Reinbek 1973, p.156. 
The problem of intercultural interference  ('Interferenz') has been repeatedly discussed in various articles by Magdi Youssef. 
Bernard Lewis implicitly refers to the problem of ‘interference’ underlying intercultural relations,  in his recently published article, "The West and the Middle East", in: Foreign Affairs, Jan./Feb. 1997, p.114-130. 
The sheer fact of mutual interaction between different sociocultures (referred to as an interference process by M. Youssef) is alluded to when B. Lewis states: "Western civilization (...) is enriched by the contributions and influences of other cultures". (ibidem, p.130) In order to understand the ongoing exchange (and thus reception) processes, it is necessary to comprehend the active, transforming side of every reception, as  M. Youssef has pointed out. It is necessary that this active involvement of the receiving side becomes a conscious, rational, autonomous, emancipated process, guided by the recognized needs of the population in the receiving society. Only in this way can cultural reception be enriching rather than alienating. 

15. This became a subject of lively debates in the 1930s, only to give way subsequently to a new position rising to dominance: the concept of the emphatically overemphasized ‘autonomy’ of the arts, coupled with the idea that art works were free of ideology and artists, writers, in fact all intellectuals had to be neutral, with regard to the most pressing issues of their times. This was the beginning of a period which embraced the idea of the superiority of  a ‘private cosmos’ reflected in literature and the arts, and - especially in panting - of strategies labeled as  ‘abstract’ or ‘informel.’ 

16. The attempt to draw a line betweeb ‘uncritical’ and ‘critical’ innovation is admittedly somewhat crude, if not schematic. What could be implied by ‘uncritical modernism’ is the abstract appropriation of dominant models, paradigms, styles, and ideological premises of a hegemonial cultural establishment within one’s own society, even in contrast to one’s own felt needs. It is tantamount to a canonization  (and acceptance of a canonization) of an ‘established’ culture or ‘high culture’ (elite culture, some say) that  is not, in fact, disinterested or neutral, under present social conditions, while making exactly such claims. This is especially fatal if the paradigms, models, styles, and premises have been formulated first of all in another, foreign socioculture and are uncritically received and adopted. 
The position, sometimes formulated today, that a hybrid "world culture" could form, as if in a melting pot, a global culture which is not onesidedly dominated by the West, and which would playfully integrate the most diverse influences,  is declared to be an unfounded hypothesis and a ‘fiction,’ by Pierre Bourdieu.  If it were to form at all, this ‘unity’ [unified culture, synthesized world culture]  would not form harmonically; it would be realized in and through cnflicts ("über und durch den Konflikt verwirklicht"). What appears decisive to Bourdieu is that factual contemporary conflict by way of which  "cultural hegemonial powers [kulturelle Hegemonialmaechte] ... enforce their image of the world with the help of their cultural products", whereas  "other groups  ... are subjected to multiple domination: in the field of publishing/editing [Herausgabe], dispersion [Verbreitung],  and recognition [Auszeichnung] of cultural products, as well as in the field of economic production." (Our translation, MK/AW) 
This dominant tendeny is more or less affirmatively supported by uncritical modernists (as against champions of a critical modernist practice) in the non-Western world. 
Bourdieu, who is not content to merely analyze as objectively as possible the rapport de forces , supplements his analysis by suggesting that  “authors should combine, not in order to immerge in a world culture but to confront each other, to debate, and to take up the struggle against the phenomena of domination. At first, in their own sphere, that of cultural production.“["die Schriftsteller (sollten) sich zusammenschließen, nicht um in der 'Weltkultur' aufzugehen, sondern um einander die Stirn zu bieten, um zu diskutieren und um den Kampf gegen die Erscheinungsformen von Beherrschung aufzunehmen. Zunächst in ihrem eigenen Bereich, dem der 'kulturellen Produktion'."] (Interview with Pierre Bourdieu, in: Frankfurter Rundschau, Jan. 26, 1994, p.7) 

17. Today, as in the past, the fetishization of the proudly but naively ‘national’ [the borné and national, “des Borniert?Nationalen“] is as problematic as the cretinism which renders us a prey to the avariciously absorbed influences of the world market and of the shoddy (though culturally 
hegemonial) wares  it transports. 
We are in need of sovereign individuals who succeed to productively synthesize the truly humane contributions of their own (ancient and more recent) heritage with the innovative and humane inventions of other sociocultures.without losing sight of the potential and actual requirements of large populations objectively in need of emancipation. 
As far as China is concerned, this was the attitude and poetic practice of Lu Xun; up to now he is providing us with a paradigm worth reflecting on. 

18. It may be irritating if Borges and Mahfuz (whose work is so very different ad much more realistic) are compared. The point of comparison is in fact the extent to which they remained focused on Europe and its ‘models.’ 

19. Perhaps what is true of the politico-economical sphere of ‘experience’ in South and Central America,  is also true of its socio-cultural production: “the aping modernization“ ["nachäffende Modernisierung" (Eduardo Galeano)]  "multiplies merely the deficiencies of the model.“  -  Deficiencies (both economic, social, and culturally)  which today become apparent even in the centers (North America and Europe) with ever increasing absurdity. (Eduardo Galeano, "Ihnen gleich sein?", in: Winfried Wolf/Eduardo Galeano, 500 Jahre Conquista. Köln 1992, p.177) 
Insofar it is the task of the critical poets, novelists, and philosophers to make contributios that are not merely copies of the literary and philosophical fashions in North America and in Europe. This attempts characterized the achievements of the best,  from José Marti to the indigenist authors of Perus (scathingly derided by Vargas Lllosa), from Raul Bastos to Asturias. This is why Carlos Fuentes, after reminding us of the voices of those in his native country "who demand the annihilation of the indiginous population which is only so much dead weight, so that Mexico can become a modern country", was posing the rhetorical question: “Wherein consists a modern country? Does it consist in this:  that certain values, dictated by the ruling classes in other parts of the world, are being accepted?“ ["Worin besteht ein modernes Land? Besteht es darin, daß gewisse, von den herrschenden Klassen in anderen Teilen der Welt diktierte Werte akzeptiert werden?"] ("Die kulturelle Mannigfaltigkeit bereichert ein Land"/Interview with Carlos Fuentes, in: Frankfurter Rundschau, Mai 18, 1994, p.7) 

20. This confrontation can result in an act of socio-cultural surrender; but it can also set free energies and produce resistance. 
This is exactly what is meant if Bourdieu suggests that the task of writers and intellectuals in a given country respectively a given socio-culture could be to enter in a peaceful agon with their colleagues from other countries: a debate which confronts the humane values, the forms of experience and expression produced by a given socio-culture in the past as well as today, showing how they can contribute to the commonly shared struggle against dependency and domination, and are actually reshaped and revitalized  and even combined with appropriate outside innovations, in this context. 

21. Further above, this complex problem has been repeatedly dealt with. A basic text, in this regard, is:  Magdi Youssef, "Die sozio-kulturellen Verflechtungen zwischen der arabischen Welt und dem Abendland in der Neuzeit", in: Intercultural Studies, Yearbook of the International Association of Intercultural Studies, Vol.1/1983, p.62-91; in addition, we refer to further publications by M. Youssef, which focus on the analysis of intercultural exchange processes. The category of ‘interference’ stresses the dialectical aspect of socio cultural relations implying, on the one side, influence exerted,  and on the other, (active) reception. 

22. Lu Xun and all  the others who brought about ‘Chinese modernism’ (la modernité chinoise; die chinesische ‘Moderne’) reacted in their specific way to the crisis of Chinese society at the beginning of the 1920s, a crisis co-ignited by Western imperialism in the 19th and early 20th century and by dominant social forces at home. 
It is correct to say that in this context modern Western genre, like the novel, the theater (as against the opera and similar forms of traditional Chinese theatrical performance), the satire were adapted. However, there exists already a narrative prose tradition before the influence of Western novels could make itself felt, the xiao shuo genre, dating back to Buddhist sacred narratives, secularized (without receiving recognition as a full-fledged literary genre) in the 17th and 18th century. Here we find subject matters and narrative patterns which were known to the modern Chinese prose authors of the 1920s and 30s. 

23. This Chinese ‘modernism’ of the 1920s, 30s, and 40s has been received in the PR China as well as abroad whereas during much of the post-civil war period, the reception process in Taiwan was at best marginal. 
The fact that modern Chinese authors at the time were both representing  a ‘break’ with tradtion and a a ‘continuity’ that was able to bridge the gap, is shown  by V.I. Semanov. Semanov points to an interesting connection between Lu Xun and a work of the 18th century,  the ‘Scholar’s Forest’ ['Gelehrtenwald']  written by Wu Jingzi. (V.I. Semanov, "Aufruf zum Kampf (Nahan)/Lu Xuns Stellung in der chinesischen Tradition und Moderne", in: W. Kubin (ed.), Moderne chinesische Literatur, Frankfurt/M. 1985, p.144) 
Lu Xun links up with what are  (his, or  our, or their) "own" [i.e. Chinese] strains and elements of tradition. He does so in a way somehow similar to that of other, albeit traditional  Chinese prose authors of the early 20th century ["(ä)hnlich wie die traditionellen Prosaschriftsteller des frühen 20. Jahrhunderts"] who also  aimed at “finding heroes in daily life and to depict truthfully the conditions of their lives in their narratives“ ["seine Helden im täglichen Leben zu finden und in seinen Erzählungen wahrheitsgetreue Lebensumstände zu schildern." (ibidem, p.142)].  The element f realism in modern Chinese literature is no mere Western import.  By going back to subliterary genres and subsuming them to strategies of Verfremdung (as Brecht called this technique of ‘making’ the well-known look ‘strange’), by transforming the material into literature and integrating it into a new context of philopsophical, literary and aesthetic reflection, Lu Xun was breaking with the trivial tendency that was inscibed in the older forms he was referring to or borrowing from. (Ibidem, p. 141) 

24. The fact that foreign influences were perceived very selectively in Taiwan in the period under consideration,  is a consequence of the political and thus also cultural climate at the time. 

25. Within the framework of this article, we do not want to further discuss the question raised here. To deal with it would require a precise, comparartive study. We hope, however, to encourage further research into this matter. It would be useful to know to what extent not only European  and North American, but  Chinese  influences (represented by modern, pre-war Chinese  l’art pour l’art positions but obliged in some way or other to pre-modern [Classical] Chinese poetry?) made themselves felt in the modernist Chinese poetry of post-civil war Taiwan. 

26. In  the field of poetry it is above all Xu Zhimo, in prose Lin Yutang who found recognition in several circles in post-civil war Taiwan. These pre-war authors were not only tolerated but to some extent praised, even though Neo-Cobfucians raised their eyebrows in view of the ‘erotic’ and ‘individualist’ attitudes which especially the poetry of the former seemed to be guilty of. 

27. Despite the (perhaps decisive) motivating impulse which was owed to a poet like Ji Xuan (somebody who had to be counted as a member of  the generation of pre-war poets), the bohemian-like attitude of the Xiandaipai poets appears rather as an express of the (new;  in fact, renewed) ‘opening up  to the West.’ As far as  the consciousness of the young generation  is concerned, the threat that ought to connect it with pre-war poetry had been  - more or less - broken. By the mid- or late 1970s efforts increased to connect again with that part of the  past. 
The dissident tendencies of the 70s that expressed themselves in prose fiction in the form of xantu xenxue narratives, surfaced now in a new, committed kind of poetry, represented by poets like Bo Yang whose work has, in part, been translated into English. Another interesting poet with a dissident’s fighting spirit has been translated into German: Pai Ch’iu, Feuer auf Taiwan. Gedichte. Transl. by Liang Ching-feng and Karlhans Frank, Pforzheim 1974. 

28 The term xiandai (modern) in the title appears like a programmatic, even though not very explicit reference to the intended ‘opening up to the West:’  it announces the strong diffusion of US- and West European literature that the journal sought to achieve, and in fact achieved. The texts presented no doubt were meant to have the function of ‘models.’ 
Wolf Baus points to  Lee Ou-fan’s  high esteem for  'Xiandai wenxue': “It is to this journal that we owe the discovery and appreciation of modernism in China.“ ["Dieser Zeitschrift allein seien Entdeckung und Bewertung des Modernismus in China zu verdanken."]  (W. Baus, "Literatur und Literaturpolitik in Taiwan", in: Helmut Martin/Charlotte Dunsing/Wolf Baus (eds.), Blick übers Meer. Chinesische Erzählungen aus Taiwan, Frankfurt/M. 1982, p.27) 

29. Informal influences on official cultural  policy were exerted also by the Catholic church. For instance, paedagogical experts of the Steiler Mission worked in the Ministry of Education. The church also ran a private Catholic university (Fujen University). When one of the authors of this article was enrolled in the M.A. program at Fujen University, she showed a translation she had completed of Horvath’s novel Youth without God, to one of the padres. He advised her immediately not to publish it. It wasn’t healthy literature. (In fact, it dealt with the psychological and social effects of a dictatorship [Nazi Germany] on the mind and soul of young students and their non-conformist teacher. Parallel developments and experiences in Taiwan were making the book ‘hot stuff’ and possibly explosive in the 1970s.) 

30.This anti-traditional element  is perhaps the most progressive trait of the modernist movement in Taiwan. Most of the important authors of the 30s and 40s in China were anti-traditionalist, too. 
The prominence of the  ‘artificial language’ of some modernists, such as Qidengsheng, appears as especially significant. 
The literary representatives of the May 4th movement, on the other hand, had opted by and large for a strategy that underscored their aim of producing pointedly provocative texts. They wanted to be perceived and, more importantly, understood by the masses. This was one of the reasons why they discarded wenyenwen (even though occasional fragments of this classical, literary idiom could be seen as now and then necessary). 

31. Similar to Qidengsheng’s  father, all teachers unable to teach in guoyu lost their job after the liberation. In the colonial era, local or regional dialects (especially Taiwanese [taiyu], and Hakka [kejiahua]) were spoken at home, in the fields, and in the market place while the official language before the occupation, guoyu, hade been replaced by Japanese. 

32. Here we refer to the correspondence of one of the authors of this article, Kuo Ming-fong, with Quidengsheng [Prof. Kuo who taught German literature at  Fujen University in Taipei and more recently, at Tamkang University in Tamsui, Taiwan, China, prior to her premature death, always took a strong interest in Chinese as well as Comparative Literature.  For a period of five years, she stayed as a guest professor of Chinese language and literature at the University of Ulm, Germany, on the invitation of the Humboldt Foundation.] 

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