Chinese Literature - Li-hua Ying 2010

The Dictionary

NATIVISTS (XIANGTU PAI). Wang Luyan (1901—1944) is widely considered the first of the Chinese nativist writers to explore the unique culture of his native land and to write about the effects of industrial forces that threatened the survival of rural communities in prerevolutionary China. After the 1920s, Chinese nativist literature evolved into several different forms. In sharp contrast to Lu Xun, who portrayed the countryside as the bastion of traditional values that inflicted serious damage to the Chinese national spirit, Shen Congwen depicted rural western Hunan as a pastoral refuge against modernization and Westernization. Meanwhile, the Communists promoted peasant literature, resulting in a number of writers whose works are characterized by their unique regional flavors. Zhao Shuli and his Shanxi Potato school and Sun Li and his Hebei Lotus Lake school were two of the most influential regional literary groups. In Taiwan after 1949, there was a group of writers emerging from the countryside who stood up against the influential trend of Westernization in Taiwanese literature by writing about traditional rural communities pushed to the fringes by Taiwan’s modernization process. Their work met with strong resistance, and in some cases ridicule, from the elitist camp, which was dominated by pro-Western and modernist writers. The 1977 debates on nativist literature carried out between Peng Ge, Zhu Xining, and Yu Guangzhong on one side and Ye Shitao, Chen Yingzhen, and Wang Tuo on the other highlighted the differences in the two groups’ aesthetic and political views. In the years that followed the debates, the nativists gradually gained a strong foothold in Taiwan, producing among the group such prominent names as Huang Chunming, Wang Zhenhe, and Chen Yingzhen. The nativist movement in its various forms and manifestations has influenced the root-seeking literature on the mainland since the 1980s.