Department of English Language and Literature
Time has begun: Hu Feng's Poesis in socialist China, 1937-50
This paper examines the poetry of the Marxist poet and critic Hu Feng 胡风 (1902-85) within the context of the modernizing transformations that took place in the People's Republic of China (PRC), with a particular focus on Hu's claims of the political effects of the Chinese Revolution (1927–50) on creative practices during the 1940s and early 1950s, specifically, the phenomena presented by his poesis. Hu, a fellow traveller of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), came into his own in the 1940s during a series of debates with his colleagues in the Party. In his career as a poet and critical intellectual, literary editor and publisher, Marxist-in-exile in socialist China, and political prisoner of the CCP, Hu practiced and called for writings that eventually became oppositional forces against authoritarian practices and populist nationalism.1 The literary and political career of Hu as a Marxist literary critic at work is an instructive case, not just in the study of the broad history of modern China, but also in our efforts to continue to expand the concept of the "committed critic" in relation to debates about the parameters in which creative freedom and political commitment negotiate with each other. This paper will augment incipient critical discussions of modern Chinese writing in the wide scholarly and cultural sphere of global literatures and advanced criticism.2
Hu's poesis, which extended beyond poetry to embrace pedagogical and editorial work that nurtured a group of emergent writers (the July writers) of his time, gave the poet-critic a chance to develop a subjectivity and poetic form that tantalized the literary space beyond the confines of the CCP's wartime politics. Hu's Time Has Begun 时间开始了, a book-length elegy to the founding of the PRC, written amid his longstanding conflicts with Party writers, conflated many of Hu's mixed sentiments about the arrival of a power regime he simultaneously anticipated and apprehended.
Source Publication Title
Canadian Review of Comparative Literature / Revue Canadienne de Littérature Comparée
Canadian Review of Comparative Literature
Copyright © 2017 Canadian Comparative Literature Association
Link to Publisher's Edition
Hung, Ruth Y. Y.. "Time has begun: Hu Feng's Poesis in socialist China, 1937-50." Canadian Review of Comparative Literature / Revue Canadienne de Littérature Comparée 44.3 (2017): 579-593.