To Adapt or to Resist? Three Case of Intellectual Reforms in the Early Period of the People’s Republic of China Open Access

Hu, Yiqing (Spring 2021)

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Amidst waves of radical mass political campaigns brought by the transition from the Nationalist China to the Communist China, intellectuals from the “old society” who experienced incessant torments stood out as a vibrant example of how Chinese people reacted to the drastic change of social, political, and cultural environment. The thesis conducts a comparative case study on three intellectuals who experienced the early period of the People’s Republic of China from 1949 to 1976 but responded differently—Fu Lei, Qian Zhongshu, and Shen Congwen. Through scrutinization of the intellectuals’ self-accounts, letters, memoirs written by their friends, the intellectuals’ experiences showed that the question of to adapt or to resist the historical tide did not only come up once but continuously throughout the era. The three intellectuals’ answers to the question changed overtime yet they answered the question out of careful and painful considerations each time. Those who chose to resist took enormous courage and resoluteness to bid farewell to the people and things they loved. Those who choose to adapt, without exception, demonstrated their determinedness in making the decision, persistence in carrying it out, and endurance through the countless struggles.

Table of Contents

Introduction 1

Chapter 1: Fu Lei: A Smashed Jade 14

Chapter 2: Qian Zhongshu: A Witty Dissimulator 40

Chapter 3: Shen Congwen: A Romantic Phoenix 57

Conclusion: To Adapt or to Resist? 85

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