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On the Margins of ModernismXu Xu, Wumingshi and Popular Chinese Literature in the 1940s$
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Christopher Rosenmeier

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9780748696369

Published to Edinburgh Scholarship Online: September 2018

DOI: 10.3366/edinburgh/9780748696369.001.0001

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Boundaries of the Real in Xu Xu’s Fiction

Boundaries of the Real in Xu Xu’s Fiction

(p.62) Chapter 4 Boundaries of the Real in Xu Xu’s Fiction
On the Margins of Modernism

Christopher Rosenmeier

Edinburgh University Press

This chapter focuses on Xu Xu’s fiction from the 1930s and 40s, providing analyses of his main short stories and novels from this period, demonstrating how Xu’s work transitioned from modernist experimentation to popular romances after his return from studies in France. Xu’s bestselling short stories and novels were often set abroad and featured exotic, otherworldly characters, such as ghosts, spies, pirates and gypsies. In many of these works, the cosmopolitan, rational and educated male protagonist encounters a mysterious, elusive, otherworldly woman. Eventually, the truth is revealed and the mysteries are uncovered, vindicating the modern outlook of the male narrator. With their references to traditional literature, abnormal psychology and sexual desire, such works frequently echo Shi Zhecun and Mu Shiying’s writings from a decade earlier, yet Xu’s writings are mainly escapist entertainment rather than an attack on rational modernity or the status of art in society.

Keywords:   Xu Xu, Exoticism, Supernatural literature, Escapist literature, Ghost stories

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