Transcontinental Transfer of Literature and Cultural Transformation:
The Case of Tian Han
Terry Siu-han Yip (Department of English Language and Literature, Hong Kong Baptist University)
This paper will examine the impact of European literatures on the construction of the romantic self in modern Chinese literature, with Tian Han as a case study. A close look at Tian Han’s reception of European drama in the 1920s shows not only an individual’s zeal for European literature, especially romantic literature, but also the gradual cultural transformation of China as a modern nation state at the time. A study of Tian Han’s romantic plays further shows that the construction of self identity in China has often been associated with the construction of national identity and with the Chinese incessant search for a new cultural identity based not on traditional Confucian views but on imported, transcontinental, or to be more accurate European, literary models. The paper will address those social, cultural forces that help shaped or transformed the Chinese self as a result of China’s “contact” with Europe and the subsequently transfer of European literature to China.