Writers and Fighters: a comparative study of the Irish literary revival (1900 - 1922) with the revolutionary Chinese May Fourth literary era (1915 - 1927)

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O'Malley-Sutton, Simone
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University College Cork
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This study elucidates the link between Irish Revival Literature and the Chinese May Fourth cultural and political movement (1917-1923). Within the framework of Colonial and Postcolonial studies, the study provides a comparative analysis of works by W.B. Yeats (1865-1939) vs Lu Xun (1881-1936), Sean O’Casey (1880-1964) vs Lao She (1899-1966), Lady Gregory (1852-1932) vs Qiu Jin (1875-1907), and, finally, John Millington Synge (1871-1909) and Cao Yu (1910-1996). The research is based on archive consultation, drawing upon a consistent number of Chinese primary sources. The work sheds new light on the reception, within the May Fourth cultural and political movement, of the authors above. It analyses how Irish Revivalist Literature was reshaped in the Chinese context and explicates the various cultural and political implications of these processes. The research provides evidence of the following aspects: (i) The Irish Revivalist linguistic legacy had a unique impact on the Chinese May 4th Movement. The anti-colonialism of writings by Yeats, Synge and Lady Gregory became useful as a model of decolonisation literature for Chinese intellectuals, particularly during the nineteen-twenties. More specifically, through archival research, the author showed that: (ii) Yeats appeared more frequently in Chinese newspaper accounts than other Irish writers such as Wilde, Joyce, Shaw or Beckett and thus was well known by Chinese May Fourth writers as a model for modern literature. Thus, in the account on the Chinese reception of Yeats, an original contribution is provided, adding new arguments to the analysis proposed by Linda Pui-Ling Wong (2003). (iii) Lady Gregory’s plays The Rising of the Moon and Spreading the News were read and translated by Chinese intellectuals and performed throughout China by peasant actors and directors during the 1920s and 1930s. (iv) Seán O’Casey’s and J.M. Synge’s works had also been translated, published and performed in China. Moreover, their writing anticipated some aspects of Brechtian Alienation Effect, a feature that is also perceivable in Lao She’s Teahouse.
Chinese May Fourth , Comparative study , Postcolonial , Modernism , Gender , Irish literary revival
O'Malley-Sutton, S. 2019. Writers and Fighters: a comparative study of the Irish literary revival (1900 - 1922) with the revolutionary Chinese May Fourth literary era (1915 - 1927). PhD Thesis, University College Cork.
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