British Romanticism in China: Revised in Reception


Author: Li Ou
Email: [email protected]
Published: December 1, 2018

Citation: Li, O. (2018). British Romanticism in China: Revised in Reception. IAFOR Journal of Literature & Librarianship, 7(1).


This paper first looks at the etymology and definition of the term ‘Romanticism’ in English and Chinese respectively to show their considerable disparity, and then traces the Chinese reception of British Romantic literature in the course of the twentieth century, focusing in particular on its late-Qing introduction, New Culturist proliferation, suppression in Communist China, and post-1976 resurrection. This trajectory of the afterlife of Romanticism reveals at the same time the transformation the concept of ‘Romanticism’ went through in twentieth-century China. The paper thus shows that as both a concept and a body of literature, Romanticism had been received with drastically divergent or even contradictory responses in China while conflicting ideologies took turns dominating the Chinese cultural discourse. This reception process demonstrates the predominance of the national ideology over the aesthetic values of foreign literature, which reveals the essentially utilitarian approach China had taken to foreign literature, and British Romanticism in particular.


British romanticism, literature, China, Western literature in Asia