The Theme of Liberation in Modern Chinese Literature

Social Sciences in China (Chinese Edition)

No. 7, 2021


The Theme of Liberation in Modern Chinese Literature



Li Yongdong


The concept of liberation has greatly influenced the development of modern Chinese literature, producing profound works on this theme. However, existing studies of liberation lack an overall perspective and fail to fully reveal its unique significance. Representations of liberation in modern Chinese literature can be comprehensively analyzed in three aspects: the actors, pathways and scale of liberation. Actors differ in that some liberate themselves, some are liberated by others, and yet others switch between the two modes; their pathways differ in that for some, liberation is gained by reasoning and for others, it is gained by struggle; and the scale differs in that some works portray liberation as a victory moving from regional to national salvation, while others portray it as an overall yet gradual process. The concept of liberation is strongly shaped by the Communist Party of China, so the works of ordinary writers and of those influenced by the Party have different characteristics: the former adopt an either-or attitude toward liberation, while the latter allow different concepts of liberation to interact and merge with each other, establishing a new form of liberation writing. At the time of the centenary of the founding of the Communist Party of China, this reflection on and exploration of the theme of liberation in modern Chinese literature shows the need to fully understand the theoretical discourse and historical practice of liberation, handle dialectically the relationship between freedom and responsibility and between respect for tradition and innovation, and strive to explore the realistic significance and ideological value of literary creation.