Qian Zhongshu

b. 1910; d. 1998
Literary critic
Son of the distinguished literary scholar Qian Jibo, Qian was educated at Qinghua University, Oxford and the University of Paris. He returned to China in 1938, after the outbreak of the War of Resistance against Japan. Qian held a series of teaching positions until he was assigned to the Chinese Academy of Sciences (later Chinese Academy of Social Sciences) after 1949. A polyglot with a photographic memory, Qian was China’s most erudite literary critic. His scholarship consisted of broad but detailed comparative studies of poetics, beginning with Chinese theatre, then the poetic tradition in On the Art of Poetry (Tan yi lu, 1948), and early Chinese literature in the four-volume Limited Views (Guan zui bian, 1979). Wit and an eye for paradox filled his literary criticism, and these also characterized his familiar essays and fiction, including the novel for which he is best remembered, Fortress Besieged (Weicheng, 1947), set during the war with Japan. Celebrated as a satire of the educated elite of modern China, the novel also reaches to psychological and existential dimensions in its depiction of a young couple. Both his fiction and scholarship consistently distanced themselves from the trends and expectations of his times.
Hsia, C.T. (1971). A History of Modern Chinese Fiction. New Haven: Yale University Press, 432–43.
Huters, Theodore (1982).
Qian Zhongshu. Boston: Twayne.
Linsley, Robert (2002). ‘Qian Zhongshu and the Late, Late Modern’. Yishu: Journal of Contemporary Chinese Art 1.1 (Spring): 60–7.
Qian, Zhongshu (1998). Limited Views: Essays on Ideas and Letters. Trans. and ed. Ronald Egan. Cambridge: Harvard University Press.
——(2001). Cat: A Translation and Critical Introduction. Hong Kong: Sanlian.
——(2004). Fortress Besieged. Trans. Jeanne Kelly and Nathan Mao. New York: New Directions.
Tian, Huilan et al. (eds) (1990). Qian Zhonshu Yang Jiang yanjiu ziliaoji [Collection of Research Material on Qian Zhongshu and Yang Jiang]. Wuhan: Huazhong shifan daxue.
EDWARD GUNN

Encyclopedia of contemporary Chinese culture. . 2011.

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