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China's Stefan ZweigThe Dynamics of Cross-Cultural Reception$
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Arnhilt Johanna Hoefle

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9780824872083

Published to Hawaii Scholarship Online: May 2018

DOI: 10.21313/hawaii/9780824872083.001.0001

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Zweig and the Chinese Love-Letter Fever

Zweig and the Chinese Love-Letter Fever

The Many Uses of Letter from an Unknown Woman in Republican China

(p.38) Chapter 3 Zweig and the Chinese Love-Letter Fever
China's Stefan Zweig

Arnhilt Johanna Hoefle

University of Hawai'i Press

In the 1920s and 1930s China was swept by a “love-letter fever,” a craze for real and fictional romantic letters (qingshu). One of this trend’s most important representatives was the notoriously frivolous writer Zhang Yiping (1902-1946). This chapter places Zhang’s retranslation of Stefan Zweig’s Letter from an Unknown Woman of 1933 against the background of the young Chinese Republic’s ongoing struggles for modernity, when a multitude of theories on literature and its social functions were competing with each other. It also shows how Zhang used the prestige of a European writer in his feud with Lu Xun (1881-1936), one of China’s most influential writers. Taking the Chinese discourses as a starting point, a close reading of Letter from an Unknown Woman concludes the chapter. Beyond the framework of epistolary fiction and the love-letter genre the work reveals complex narrative strategies and literary dimensions which significantly complicate existing interpretations of Zweig’s most famous novella.

Keywords:   Lu Xun, Zhang Yiping, Letter from an Unknown Woman, Qingshu, Love-letter, Republican China, Modernity, Feud

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