Modern Chinese Prose
Modern Chinese prose dates back to May 4th Movement, which is developed on the base of absorbing foreign thoughts and inheriting immanent traditions. Generally speaking, modern Chinese prose can be divided into three styles, which is argumentation, lyric and narrative.
At the beginning of the May 4th Movement, random thoughts, which have extensive contents but mainly focus on thought revolution and literature revolution, is one kind of vernacular prose that is to meet the need of fighting. The journals such as New Youth, Comments Weekly all had the column of Random Thoughts. LuXun, Li Dazhao, Chen Duxiu, Qian Xuantong and Liu Bannong are all the important authors. LuXun’s random thoughts were the most incisive with the sharp words and deep insight. He published a great mount of long argumentation prose which anatomized the feudalism autocratic system, which were called “essay” and later played an important part in the history of modern prose and modern literature.
Some famous prose authors are Bing Xin, ZhouZuoren, Zhu Ziqing, Guo Moruo, Yu Dafu, and Xu Zhimo. Some of their works are tactful and graceful, fresh and bright; some are vigorous and simple, easy and free; some are beautiful and fine; some are fresh, smooth and full of passion. The thought and artistic style are various and brilliant.
After the May 4th Movement, a kind of lyrical prose with more poesy appeared, namely prose poem. An important development of the prose was the rise and prosperity of the reportage in 1930s. Some great prose masters appeared in 1930s. The works of biography, lyric, and philosophy, all have their own unique styles.
Essay is the pioneer against feudalism in early period. Its targets are concrete and slight but stuck to life closely; the form is free; the length is changeable; the languages are forthright and solemn or humorous and satire. After then narrative prose and feuilleton came out one after another too. Modern prose became flourishing.
The prose in developing stage which are distinct in styles and forms are prosperous generally. The common forms are narrative, lyric, commenting, describing the scenery, and expressing the will. Lu Xun’s style is cold and wrathful. Zhou Zuoren's style is gentle and diluted. The style of Zhu Ziqing and Bing Xin is fresh and graceful. The style of Guo Moruo and Yu Dafu are bold and free. The style of Ye Shentao, Xu Dishan is simple and straight. Xu Zhimo’s style is gorgeous and beautiful.
After the War of Resistance against Japan broke out, especially after the Wan Nan Incident, the militancy essay sent out the strongest voice of the times. Guo Moruo’s "New Praises to Nine Muses" and "Reprimand to Reactionary Literature and Art" became the important documents in the ideological of Kuomintang District and the cultural front. Wen Yiduo's "Last Speech" displayed a strong democratic soldier's brave spirit in the face of the pistol. Feng XueFeng's essays stress on people's mind analysis and demonstrate stronger theory strength. Nie Gannu (1900--1986) made many beneficial explorations on essay and used some interesting ancient stories to attack reality. Feng Zikai (1898 --1975), Lin Mohan (1909 --) and many other writers also wrote a great deal of essays.
The prose combined lyric with narrative made an outstanding achievement in the Kuomintang District. Mao Dun’s “Praise to Poplar”, “Scenery Discussion”, Ba Jin’s “Waste Garden”, “Light”, and “Dragon” are all masterpieces. Shen Congwen's “Random Records of West of Hunan” is a graceful work which narrates the nature and the humanity condition.