Leonard Chan - Chair Professor of Chinese Literature, Dean of Faculty of Humanities, Hong Kong Institute of Education
“Chinese literary tradition as a whole is a lyrical tradition” became an influential conception, after UC Berkeley’s Professor Chen Shixiang and Princeton’s Professor Gao Yougong unfolded their expositions of Chinese lyricism in the 1970s and 1980s. In the decades that follow, many Hong Kong, Taiwan and overseas Chinese literary scholars advocate the view of a “Chinese lyrical tradition”, and predicate their studies on it. Indeed, “lyrical tradition” as an interpretative concept, has exhibited its strong explanatory power, and made numerous contributions to the study of Chinese literary history and comparative literature. In recent years, the conception of “Chinese lyrical tradition” has been extended from the study of classical to that of modern and contemporary literature. Aside from Chen and Gao, some recent discussions trace back to the literary historiographical framework of “the lyrical and the epic” as conceived by Czech sinologist Jaroslav Průšek in the 1950s. This lecture focuses on Chen Shixiang, Gao Yougong and Průšek. By situating the three scholars’ discussions on “lyrical tradition” in their historical contexts, it aims to explain the birth and growth of the concept, and how it has developed into the most prominent interpretative discourse of Chinese literary study in areas outside mainland China.