Cultural Confidence and the Development of Contemporary Chinese Literature

Social Sciences in China (Chinese Edition)

No.11, 2017


Cultural Confidence and the Development of Contemporary Chinese Literature



Wang Yao, Li Jianjun and Chen Jianhui


Strengthening cultural confidence is an issue repeatedly emphasized by General Secretary Xi Jinping. In contemporary Chinese literature, lacking self-confidence has always been a salient problem. As to the root causes of it, some think that it is the unduly influence of Western culture and literature that has led to the attitude of rejection of contemporary Chinese literature to traditional Chinese culture and literature. But others hold just the opposite view, who argue that cultural confidence is always imbedded in contemporary Chinese literature, since it can never sever itself from traditional Chinese culture and literature. How, then, can we understand the issue of cultural confidence in contemporary Chinese literature, and what is its development direction? Here three famous scholars have been invited to make a discussion on these questions. We hope it can help establish the confidence of contemporary Chinese literature. Professor Wang Yao, from the School of Humanity of Soochow University, believes that contemporary Chinese literature has established its confidence through both inheriting and creatively transforming the fine traditions of Chinese culture. To both the “old” and “new” traditions before and after the May 4th Movement, contemporary literature displays a mixed state of both “rupture” and “connection.” Its confidence is mainly manifested in the close relationship between fine tradition and its outstanding features of people orientation, its revolutionary nature and narrative, as well as its China story. Li Jianjun, a research fellow from the Literature Research Institute of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, holds that, in its creation of characters, fictions in contemporary Chinese literature neglect the issue of “image creation of the author”: they are either arrogantly “selfcentered” or falsely “selfhidden,” both undermine selfconfidence. Future Chinese literature should, on the basis of upholding Chinese theory and drawing on Chinese experience, stress the author’s “positive writing” with a Chinese style. Professor Chen Jianhui at Guangzhou University’s Center for the Study of Literary Thought holds that despite its many achievements, contemporary Chinese literature has obvious shortcomings, displayed mainly in the fact that not a few of writers lack a sense of responsibility for the society or the times. They care too much about artistic skills while overlooking insightful thinking, and overemphasize Western standards at the expense of Chinese experience. According to Professor Chen, to rejuvenate Chinese contemporary literature, we must establish cultural confidence and cultural awareness and learn from great Chinese literary traditions, such as advocating culture, “literature as the vehicle of ideas,” “respecting for nature,” cultivating ideal cultural personality.