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Love-Letters and Privacy in Modern ChinaThe Intimate Lives of Lu Xun and Xu Guangping$
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Bonnie S. McDougall

Print publication date: 2002

Print ISBN-13: 9780199256792

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: October 2011

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199256792.001.0001

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Traditional Chinese and Western Letters

Traditional Chinese and Western Letters

(p.83) 8 Traditional Chinese and Western Letters
Love-Letters and Privacy in Modern China


Oxford University Press

This chapter provides a brief sketch of letter writing in China and Western countries, with particular attention to published letters, love-letters, and letters in literature. It was this background from which Lu Xun and Xu Guangping drew for their own practice. The discussion summarizes the major characteristics of letters in pre-modern China, as well as the features associated with Western letter writing which differ from older Chinese letters. When Chinese writers and readers looked westwards in the early twentieth century, they quickly assimilated almost all of these features. Of particular relevance to the letters written and then published by Xu Guangping and Lu Xun are the porous borders between personal and open letters, between love-letters and other kinds of intimate confessions, and between authentic and imagined letters.

Keywords:   traditional Chinese letters, letter-writing history, Shu jing, Zuo zhua, late Imperial China, Western letters

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