The “Liberation” Theme of Modern Chinese Literature

Social Sciences in China, 2022

Vol. 43, No. 1, 2022


The “Liberation” Theme of Modern Chinese Literature


Li Yongdong


AbstractThe concept of “liberation” has profoundly influenced the development of modern Chinese literature, giving rise to a “liberation” theme with profound implications. Modern Chinese literature can be analyzed from the joint perspectives of the liberators, the routes to liberation and the scope of liberation. Variations among the liberators have led to the two different concepts of self-liberation and being liberated; the differences in the routes to liberation have led to the intermixture of liberation based on persuasion and struggle- based liberation; and the difference in the scope of liberation derives from the alternation of the partial achievement of thoroughgoing liberation and the full realization of incremental liberation. The Chinese concept of liberation was strongly shaped by the Communist Party of China (CPC); compared to the work of those writers influenced by the CPC’s concept of “liberation,” the writings of ordinary non-Communist writers present “liberation” differently. The latter tend to adopt an either/or attitude toward liberation, whereas the former ensure that liberation theme reflects the interaction and blending of different types of “liberation” concepts, thus establishing a new form of “liberation” writing. To mark the centenary of the CPC, we have reviewed and explored the “liberation” theme of modern Chinese literature in the hope that we will gain a full understanding of the theoretical discourse and historical practice of “liberation,” taking a dialectical approach to freedom and responsibility, respecting tradition while boldly pursuing innovation, and striving to explore the realistic significance and ideological value of literary works.


Keywords: modern Chinese literature, “liberation” theme, Communist Party of China, concept of liberation