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Title: 'The Bridge' : how 'The Penguin New Writing' (1940-1950) shaped twentieth-century responses to China
Author: Moore, T.
ISNI:       0000 0000 3309 3355
Awarding Body: University of Westminster
Current Institution: University of Westminster
Date of Award: 2020
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This thesis examines the short stories about China by Chinese and British writers published in the journal The Penguin New Writing (1940-1950). The writers were responding to a traumatic period in history spanning part of the Second Sino-Japanese War and World War II and its aftermath. TPNW, promoted contemporary writing from around the world and was open both to well-established and little-known writers. Penguin Books’ founder, Allen Lane, backed the journal which had a circulation of 100,000 at its peak and established John Lehmann as one of the finest literary editors of wartime Britain. To date, there has been scant critical analysis of Lehmann’s international venture, and none at all of his interest in modern Chinese literature. Yet his political, aesthetic and personal approach to China provides a fascinating study of the ways in which those on the British Left sought to increase sympathy for the country and its people and how Lehmann redrew representations of the country for his Anglophone readers. This thesis benefited significantly from a dissertation fellowship to visit Lehmann’s editorial archive at the Harry Ransom Center in Austin, Texas, where a wealth of previously unseen correspondence between the editor and his Chinese and British writers was discovered. These letters enabled the piecing together of a narrative about Sino-British literary crossings in the 1940s, as well as a reappraisal of neglected Chinese writers Ye Junjian and Kenneth Lo among others. During the decade of TPNW’s existence attitudes towards the Chinese in Britain, particularly on the British Left, became increasingly sympathetic and this thesis evaluates Lehmann’s contribution to ‘the vogue’ for Chinese stories in the mid 1940s. In this heyday for Chinese writers, they sought to push against established Sinophobic stereotypes but as this thesis concludes, there remained limits to British interest in the plight of the Chinese people.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available