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Recite and RefuseContemporary Chinese Prose Poetry$
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Nick Admussen

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9780824856526

Published to Hawaii Scholarship Online: May 2017

DOI: 10.21313/hawaii/9780824856526.001.0001

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What Is the Tradition of Chinese Prose Poetry?

What Is the Tradition of Chinese Prose Poetry?


(p.35) Chapter Two What Is the Tradition of Chinese Prose Poetry?
Recite and Refuse

Nick Admussen

University of Hawai'i Press

This chapter examines, rejects, and revises the traditional history of the genre of prose poetry. Through a reading of Agamben, it demonstrates that during the May Fourth period, writers called a wide variety of work by the name prose poetry, including lineated free verse, lyric essays, and even fiction. By contrast, the writers of the 1950s wrote generically coherent work, and in the 1980s those same writers produced the focused, meaningful genre definitions that we use today. Because contemporary prose poetry has its roots in the obedient socialist poetry of the 1950s, it is not an inherently subversive form; its acts of refusal often serve to humanize or personalize the dictates of state socialism. The end of the chapter finds that the greatest stylistic influence on early prose poetry were Bing Xin’s translations of Rabindranath Tagore, and the way she made his transcendental music into vernacular prose.

Keywords:   genre history, May Fourth, Hundred Flowers, Bing Xin, Tagore, Agamben, socialism, subversion, translation

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