Shanghai Variations on ‘Revolution Plus Love’

By Liu Jianmei

Modern Chinese Literature and Culture, vol. 14, no. 1, pp.51-92

This article analyzes some marginal writings of the “revolution plus love” formula, such as those by Shi Zhecun, Liu Na’ou, Mu Shiying, and Ye Lingfeng, as well as Zhang Ziping’s different pursuit of this “fashion.” Critics seldom relate these writers to revolutionary literature, since they are classified either as members of the school of New Sensibility or as urbanized writers who catered to the public interest. However, these writers also frenetically pursued the “revolution plus love” theme or formula; their imitation of this writing astonish us with the erotic, the exotic, the decadent, and the commercial. By redrawing the trajectory of their imitation and repetition of revolution from different angles, this essay attempts to reveal these writers’ hybrid and derivative definitions of modernity. In addition, I show that the repetitive pronouncement of “revolution plus love” affected the dispersion of meanings and representations, and therefore not only pointed to the complexity of wentan (literary field) around 1930, but also inevitably altered the meaning of revolution that adheres to Marxism in leftists’ writing..