One Man Talking

New Publication
Paul Bevan and Susan Daruvala (eds.), One Man Talking: Selected Essays of Shao Xunmei, 1929-1939 (Hong Kong: City University of Hong Kong Press, 2023).

Shao Xunmei, poet, essayist, publisher and printer, played a signi­ficant role in the publication and dissemination of journals and pictorial magazines in Shanghai during the 1920s and 1930s. Shao’s poetry has been translated by several prominent scholars through the years, but remarkably few of his essays have received the same attention, and this is the first collection of his prose writings to have been published in English. Shao has been described by a phalanx of scholars as the most seriously underestimated modern cultural Chinese fi­gure. This collection of his writings joins several recent publications that aim to raise Shao’s literary and historical profile. It will appeal to a broad swathe of readers interested in the transnational and transcultural dimensions of twentieth-century experience that have become so important for contemporary scholarship.

The essays in this book, some of which were selected by the writer’s daughter, Shao Xiaohong, include long essays such as “One Man Talking” and “A Year in Shanghai”, as well as several shorter essays on subjects as diverse as the caricatures of Miguel Covarrubias, woodblock printing, and pictorial magazines, all of which were published in Shao’s own magazines. Although his essays may be less well known than those of other writers of the same period, without his unique and valuable contribution, the literary, artistic and poetic worlds of twentieth-century Shanghai would have been very different indeed.

Paul Bevan is a freelance Sinologist and historian of Chinese art and literature. From 2020-2023 he was Departmental Lecturer in Modern Chinese Literature and Culture and Retained Lecturer in Chinese at Wadham College, University of Oxford. From 2018-2020 he worked as Christensen Fellow in Chinese Painting at the Ashmolean Museum. He is the author of A Modern Miscellany: Shanghai Cartoon Artists, Shao Xunmei’s Circle and the Travels of Jack Chen, 1926–1938 (2015) and “Intoxicating Shanghai”: Modern Art and Literature in Pictorial Magazines during Shanghai’s Jazz Age (2020).

Susan Daruvala works in modern Chinese literature and film. She is a Fellow of Trinity College, University of Cambridge although now retired from her teaching post in the Department of East Asian Studies. She is the author of Zhou Zuoren and an Alternative Chinese Response to Modernity. Her current research interests focus on Chinese aesthetic discourses, as well as the modern Chinese essay, the literary scene in Republican China and Chinese film.

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