“Synthesis” emerged as a pivotal approach in Yuan Kejia's proposal of “modernizing Chinese new poetry” in the 1940s. While scholars often credit the influence of T.S. Eliot and I.A. Richards in the Western origins of “synthesis,” the significant impact of Stephen Spender is sometimes underestimated. Firstly, Yuan Kejia depicted the characteristics of modern British poetry as a progression “from analysis to synthesis” (“from self-deprecating mockery to pity”), with both “synthesis” and “pity” finding roots in Spender's theory. Secondly, in contrast to Eliot and Richards, who severed the connection between art and life, Spender's notion of “fusing” ideas, experiences and objective reality into a single line or image greatly influenced Yuan Kejia's inclusion of “reality” as a pivotal component of “synthesis.” Finally, contemporary translations allowed Yuan Kejia to convey Spender's modernity theory in the 1940s, a concept reinvigorated in the 1980s through Calinescu's scholarship. Yuan Kejia's embrace of the Spender's left-wing poetics exemplifies his literary adaptability and resilience within the intellectual circle of wartime Beijing.


Yuan Kejia, Stephen Spender, synthesis, modernity