Chapter Two Iconoclasm in Chinese Ibsenism

  • Kwok-kan Tam


Owing to the influence of Japan and the West at the beginning of the twentieth century, Chinese intellectuals began to have a new perspective of drama as a platform for promoting revolutionary ideas. At the same time, it was the political enthusiasm in China at the end of the nineteenth century that led to a new interest in the social and political functions of drama, because the theatre allowed the actors to deliver speeches to the audience. However, the Chinese were not familiar with the new form of drama that was based on speech, and they had to learn it from Japan and the West. As a result, essays discussing the achievements of Western theatre began to appear in influential Chinese journals such as Short Story Magazine (Xiaoshuo yuebao 小說月報) and Grove of Translation (Yilin 譯林), in the first decade of the twentieth century. A growing interest in Western drama can be seen in the fact that Shakespeare, the two Dumas and Ibsen were introduced to China one after another. The publication of plays in the new dramatic form with speeches made possible the public circulation of critical discourses. When the theatre joined forces with the publishing industry, a new media platform was formed for the dissemination of critical discourses and radical ideas. Hence, the modern Chinese drama and theatre had a strong political orientation at the beginning.

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© Springer Nature Singapore Pte Ltd. 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Kwok-kan Tam
    • 1
  1. 1.School of Humanities and Social ScienceHang Seng University of Hong KongShatinHong Kong

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