Yang Li


As a masterpiece that applies the theory on “lyricism” to the study of modern and contemporary Chinese literature, David Der-wei Wang's The Lyrical in Epic Time has shown his ingenuity and skill in sorting out the genealogy of lyricism. Compared with classical interpretations of this term, Wang emphasizes the classical origin of lyricism, but he is primarily influenced by Jaroslav Prusek. However, he does not concur with Prusek's emphasis on “epic”. In fact, the reason for Wang's turn to lyricism lies in his dissatisfaction with the monolithic paradigm of “enlightenment” and “revolution”. Instead, he tries to pluralize the dualistic discourse with lyricism as a parameter, paying attention to the interaction between the three. In this process, Wang narrowly replaces the interaction between lyricism and epic with a game between lyricism and revolution, blurring the similarities and differences between lyricism/enlightenment and enlightenment/revolution. This implicitly reveals the poetic politics of Wang's thought on lyricism. To a great extent, he directly equates “the lyrical in epic time” with shishi (poetry as history), which provides a path for lyricism to engage with reality. His thinking reinvents the modern meaning of shishi, which now means “critical lyricism towards epic time”. Yet, while Wang's “lyric modernity” is largely based on his criticism of the so-called monolithic “epic paradigm”, his argument seems to run into the hegemony of pluralism.


lyricism;epic;enlightenment;revolution;shishi (poetry as history)

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