Xin Kang


A recurring image in May Fourth literature, “the rickshaw puller” embodied the populist trend of advocating the idea of “sacred labor.” However, in left-wing literature that spoke for the hard-working masses, the symbolic relevance of “the rickshaw puller” diminished to the extent that such figures almost disappeared from the genealogy of fictional images. On the one hand, this resulted from the gap between the actual living conditions of Shanghai rickshaw pullers in the 1930s and the “workers and peasants” created in left-wing literature. On the other hand, it had something do to with the left-wing revolutionary ideas' inadequacy to respond positively to the urgent issue of the rickshaw pullers' social relief, hence the marginalization of them in literary discourse. The revision and deletion of Camel Xiangzi in the 1950s reflected the impact of class theory on the formation of the image of laborer. The debate over humanitarianism exposed, on the discursive level, the problem within the self-constructed revolutionary logic of left-wing literature and art.


the rickshaw puller, left-wing literature, the masses, revolution

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