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Title: A pursuit of freedom : a study of Shen Congwen's Aesthetics
Author: Chiu, Y. Y.
Awarding Body: University of Cambridge
Current Institution: University of Cambridge
Date of Award: 2009
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Shen Congwen was a prolific writer, achieving an outstanding reputation in two apparently separate careers: first his literary career between 1925 and 1948, and second his studies, as a curator at the History Museum in Beijing, of the material culture of Chinese artefacts. This thesis explores the relationship between the development of Shen Congwen’s writings and the development of his aesthetics principles throughout both of his careers, and offers the possibility that the second career can be seen as a continuation of the ideals of the first. There two main parts to the thesis: the first is an investigation of the underlying principles of the diverse and versatile presentation styles in Shen’s fiction; the second examines the way in which Shen Congwen developed his particular way of writing about material culture, illustrating how these fundamental principles had already existed when he was a creative writer. I start by looking at the way his self perception, for example as a ‘countryman’, evolved, and show how these changes can lead to an understanding of the changes in the presentational style and aesthetic preferences in his fiction. I take as a fixed point Shen’s claim to have realised a New Taoist, pantheistic, view of the world and argue that his realisation shaped his presentation in fiction; moreover I show how he carried this understanding forward into his appreciation of ancient artefacts. Moreover, I also offer an alternative to the view that he ceased to create literary work since he became a curator. As supporting evidence, I do not use his three attempts at writing novels during this later period, but rather the classical style poems which he began to compose in 1961. These poems shape my view that Shen Congwen’s journey as a writer was the journey of his pursuit of freedom.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available