Cover image for Shanghai modern : the flowering of a new urban culture in China, 1930-1945
Shanghai modern : the flowering of a new urban culture in China, 1930-1945
Lee, Leo Ou-fan.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
Cambridge, Mass. : Harvard University Press, 1999.
Physical Description:
xvii, 409 pages, 26 unnumbered pages of plates : illustrations ; 24 cm
The background of urban culture. Remapping Shanghai ; The construction of modernity in print culture ; The urban milieu of Shanghai cinema ; Textual transactions: discovering literary modernism through books and journals -- The modern literary imagination: writers and texts. The erotic, the fantastic, and the uncanny: Shi Zhecun's experimental stories ; Face, body and the city: the fiction of Liu Na'ou and Mu Shiying ; Decadent and dandy: Shao Xunmei and Ye Lingfeng ; Eileen Chang: romances in a fallen city -- Reflections. Shanghai cosmopolitanism ; Epilogue: a tale of two cities.

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DS796.S25 L43 1999 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks

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In the midst of China's wild rush to modernize, a surprising note of reality arises: Shanghai was once modern indeed, a centre of commerce and art in the heart of the 20th century. This text explores the golden age of Shanghai urban culture, a modernity which was once intrinsically Chinese and profoundly anomalous, blending new and indigenous ideas with those flooding into this treaty port from the Western world.

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

As a "treaty port," Shanghai has looked outward since the British forced this small trading town to accept foreign merchants in the nineteenth century. By 1930 the city had evolved into a cosmopolitan metropolis with a burgeoning economy (largely controlled by Westerners) and a glittering, ecletic cultural life. Lee, a professor of Chinese literature at Harvard, was born in a rural region of the mainland but raised in Taiwan. He has provided a fascinating portrait of the city during its so-called golden age, before the hostile ideology of Communism clamped down on the vibrant spirit of Shanghai. He examines a variety of cultural facets, including literature, architecture, cinema, and music. His insights into the relationship between "modern" Shanghai and the more traditional elements of "old China" are particularly interesting. This is a well-written and wide-ranging study of a great city that is reemerging as an economic and cultural giant. --Jay Freeman

Library Journal Review

Lee is a distinguished professor of Chinese literature at Harvard University who has had a long association with the founders of the Iowa Writers' Workshop. Being thus well versed in both Chinese and Western literature allows him to define Chinese modernity in Shanghai during the foreign occupation, when "culture" was at its height. Lee points out that China's adoption of Quaker Oats and cigarettes as nationalistic commodities was less important than the unprecedented use of the female body to advertise these products. Lee describes the surging modern atmosphere by examining the proliferation of cinemas, coffeehouses, theaters, dance halls, parks, and race courses. He also details the literary contributions of six writers to describe the popular demand for modern literature. Like Geremie R. Barm‚'s In the Red (LJ 4/1/99), this book examines many different types of media in China, although Barm‚'s focus is contemporary. Recommended particularly for libraries with collections in modern literature and Chinese studies.ÄPeggy Spitzer Christoff, Oak Park, IL (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Choice Review

Lee's provocative book explores "modernity" in 1930s Shanghai as understood and disseminated by literary figures and popular media. Yet the implications Lee teases out from extensive textual sources demand broader reconsideration of issues of translation, urbanity, and modernity itself. The initial section evokes the urban milieu through vivid vignettes and examination of the material foundations of culture--places, media, and interfaces of cinema and literature. Lee's grasp of literature and popular culture proves encyclopedic and intimate, but he carefully recognizes his limits in posing global and local questions. The second section highlights selected authors--Shi Zhecun (whom Lee interviewed extensively), Liu Na'ou, Mu Shiying, Shao Xunmei, Ye Lingfeng, and Eileen Chang (Zhang Ailing)--providing context for novice readers while addressing advanced critical questions and comparative issues. Because these works also flesh out his initial reading of the city, there is an occasional repetitive quality to the organization, although this emphasizes the relationship of ambience and author. The final essays reread modernity and power, and ponder the peculiar relation of Hong Kong and Shanghai--again, larger questions the rich analyses open from new perspectives. Upper-division undergraduates and above. G. W. McDonogh; Bryn Mawr College

Table of Contents

Prefacep. xi
I The Background of Urban Culture
1 Remapping Shanghaip. 3
2 The Construction of Modernity in Print Culturep. 43
3 The Urban Milieu of Shanghai Cinemap. 82
4 Textual Transactions: Discovering Literary Modernism through Books and Journalsp. 120
II The Modern Literary Imagination: Writers and Texts
5 The Erotic, the Fantastic, and the Uncanny: Shi Zhecun's Experimental Storiesp. 153
6 Face, Body, and the City: The Fiction of Liu Na'ou and Mu Shiyingp. 190
7 Decadent and Dandy: Shao Xunmei and Ye Lingfengp. 232
8 Eileen Chang: Romances in a Fallen Cityp. 267
III Reflections
9 Shanghai Cosmopolitanismp. 307
10 Epilogue: A Tale of Two Citiesp. 324
Notesp. 343
Glossaryp. 387
Indexp. 399