Venturing into Shanghai:
The Flâneur in Two of Shi Zhecun’s Short Stories

By Yiyan Wang

Modern Chinese Literature and Culture, vol. 19, no. 2 (Fall 2007, pp. 34-70

This essay conducts close readings of two short stories, “One Evening in the Rainy Season” (1929) and “Spring Sunshine” (1929), by Shi Zhecun (1905-2003), a leading modernist writer in Shanghai in the early decades of the twentieth century. The primary purpose is to provide concrete examples of Chinese literary modernism through identification of the figure of flâneur and flâneuse. By examining the external and internal journeys of the protagonists, this essay demonstrates their similarities with and differences from their counterparts in Paris and with the Chinese literatus-wanderer in Chinese history. Although they may not be the perfect incarnations of the Parisian flâneur , they embody how local cultural traditions play an important part in shaping and conditioning modernism as both an international movement and a mode of aesthetics at different locations.