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On the Margins of Modernism

Xu Xu, Wumingshi and Popular Chinese Literature in the 1940s

Christopher Rosenmeier

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Introduces popular 1940s Chinese authors and explores their influence on Chinese literature

Xu Xu and Wumingshi were among the most widely read authors in China during and after the Second Sino-Japanese War (1937-1945), but although they were an integral part of the Chinese literary scene their bestselling fiction has been given scant attention in histories of Chinese writing. This groundbreaking book, the first book-length study of Xu Xu and Wumingshi in English or any other western language, re-establishes their importance within the popular Chinese literature of the 1940s. With in-depth analyses of their innovative short stories and novels, Christopher Rosenmeier demonstrates how these important writers incorporated and adapted narrative techniques from Shanghai modernist writers like Shi Zhecun and Mu Shiying, contesting the view that modernism had little lasting impact in China and firmly positioning these two figures within the literature of their times.

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1. Introduction

2. Tradition and Hybridity in Shi Zhecun and Mu Shiying

3. Wartime Literature Between Tradition and Modernity

4. Boundaries of the Real in Xu Xu’s Fiction

5. Wumingshi and the Wartime Romances

6. Opposition, Imitation, Adaptation, and Diffusion in Popular Chinese Literature

Bibliography; Notes

About the Author

Christopher Rosenmeier is a Lecturer in Chinese at the University of Edinburgh


In this highly original and impeccably researched study, Christopher Rosenmeier redraws the boundaries of modernism in Chinese fiction, through a comparative stylistic analysis of a set of works that were previously considered to be at the opposite ends of the spectrum of "serious" and "popular" literature. His contribution to the study of the wartime authors Xu Xu and Wumingshi is especially invaluable, as these hugely important writers have received only scant attention from scholars so far. On the Margins of Modernism truly is a milestone and will remain a standard reference for students of Chinese modernism for many years to come.

- Michel Hockx, University of Notre Dame

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