Modern and Contemporary Chinese Literature

Social Sciences in China (Chinese Edition)

No.1, 2021


Transformation and Application: “Criticism of Original Events” and Modern and Contemporary Chinese Literature



Zhang Jun


The practices of “classicizing” and “historicizing” in the study of modern and contemporary literature requires not only “learning from the ancients,” but also the creative transformation of classical methodology. As one of the important methods of classical textual criticism, “criticism of original events” occupies an intriguing theoretical space and application scenario in the field of modern and contemporary literature. The modern transformation of this form of criticism requires a thorough examination of the historical data relating to the characters, events and situational archetypes and the processes by which the narrative was rewritten, as well as an in-depth analysis of the internal logic of the storytelling strategies and narrative mechanisms that govern the texts’ evolution from a story of original events to a fictional story. With this dual vision of narratology and cultural studies, classical criticism can be reactivated and transformed into a new research method that combines both “textology” (kao) and “interpretation” (shi) with the organic integration of historical materials and interpretation, an approach that can be widely applied in the analysis of modern and contemporary literary works and even writers. Although there are objective limitations to the subjects and methods of research in modern stories founded on original events, they are of great value for exploration in terms of in-depth analysis of the cultural and narrative values of modern and contemporary literature and of the adjustment and reconstruction of the literary research tradition during this period.