CHAPTER 6 Nothing but Culture: The Pen War Between Hu Shi and the Conservative Xueheng School 1 A Critique of Hu Shi’s Theory of Baihua Writing Generally speaking, the “New Chinese Literature” began from 1917 with the publication of Hu Shi’s “A Preliminary Proposal for Literary Reform” in the first issue of The New Youth. This signaled a fundamental change in Chinese literature, the first significant change since the late Qing Dynasty. Hu’s “Proposal” was thus of epoch-making significance in the history of Chinese literary criticism. Even though he used the word “reform” in the title, Hu essentially called for a revolution from a language perspective and argued for replacing wenyan with the current baihua. His theory might therefore be more justly termed a theory of baihua literature. It was well received by such prominent scholars as Chen Duxiu, Fu Sinian, Liu Bannong, Qian Xuantong, and Zhou Zuoren. Their contributions strengthened the theory and made it more systematic: their responses and polemical papers are included in Hu Shi’s edited multi-volume Anthology of New Chinese Literature: Theory Construction. Hu Shi is the most prolific and the most published author on the theory of this literature. First, it was he who coined the term baihua literature; second, he actively promoted and defended it; and third, he was an ardent believer in baihua literature. He practiced what he advocated by publishing the first volume of baihua poems—Collection of Experimental Poetry— in the history of Chinese literature, and A History of Chinese Philosophy © The Author(s) 2018 Y. Gao, The Birth of Twentieth-Century Chinese Literature, DOI 10.1057/978-1-137-55936-4_6 127 128 6 NOTHING BUT CULTURE: THE PEN WAR BETWEEN HU SHI... (first volume), also the first of its kind in a modern sense. Fourth, he elaborated comprehensively the concept of baihua literature through his articles and books, such as “On Literary Revolution,” “On the Historical Concept of Literature,” “On Building up a Literary Revolution,” “On Literary Revolution Movement,” “Forced to Join the Lingshan Rebels,” “On New Poetry,” “On Short Stories,” “Introduction” to A History of Baihua Literature, “An Autobiography: As Told by Hu Shih,” and Chinese Literature in the Recent Fifty Years. Hu Shi’s theoretical promotion of baihua as an effective literary language was so successful in its own right and also led to the success of the May Fourth New Culture Movement. Even Hu Shi was surprised by this twofold success, admitting: “When I was conceiving this movement in 1916, I thought that it would take twenty or thirty years at the minimum to see any result. It became mature with such speed that I was even surprised” (“Autobiography” 333). Its success is largely attributed to his instinct in finding the pivotal factor in the reform—namely, the language. While he knew that all literary revolutions in history started with a change in the medium of representation, he didn’t offer any reasons for believing in the power of baihua. The earlier stage of the baihua movement was strongly opposed by conservatives, among whom the translator Lin Shu was the most vociferous, although he failed to offer convincing reasons for his criticism: “I know that it is entirely wrong to abolish wenyan but I don’t know how to spell out the reasons” (“Reasons” 92). Hu Shi was amused when reading this sentence and later mocked Zhang Shizhao, a famous traditionalist scholar, by imitating Lin Shu: “I know baihua is no good but I don’t know how to spell out the reasons” (“Again, Zhang Shizhao Rebels” 743). Hu’s mockery was rather like a pot calling the kettle black, because he couldn’t come up with irrefutable reasons even if he argued that his promotion has “historical evidence, social needs in mind and the vision of beautiful baihua literature all people will appreciate” (“Again, Zhang Shizhao Rebels” 743). Zhang Shizhao and Lin Shu couldn’t make their case for the lack of linguistic knowledge, without which they were unable to pinpoint the real reasons. Later, Hu Shi attributed the quick success of the literary revolution to the ineffectual opposition. It is true that the opposition was weak because there was no effective linguistic help from the wenyan system. What makes the pen war interesting is that the baihua champion, Hu Shi himself, didn’t understand the core reason for his success. 1 A CRITIQUE OF HU SHI’S THEORY OF BAIHUA WRITING 129 That baihua prevailed over wenyan, in Hu Shi’s understanding, was because wenyan was half-dead as a language and baihua full of vitality. Defending his idea of “half-dead wenyan,” he argued, “There are many wenyan words still in use, but there are many discarded as well” (“Autobiography” 310). A review of his “A Preliminary Proposal” indicates that among the elements of wenyan that were falling out of use included casual grammar rules, indiscriminate use of idioms and proverbs, overuse of allusions, and unnecessary focus on parallelism of words and sentences. The “vitality” of baihua, by contrast, was embodied in its comprehensibility, as [t]he words are easy to say, to read and to hear. Wenyan can never be used for public speech, lecture or note-taking. What is needed today is a language that can be read, listened to, sung, and written. We don’t have to do a mental translation when we read it. We don’t have to transcribe it when we make a baihua speech. When we sing baihua songs, even the illiterate understand. (“Autobiography” 314–315) The most crucial factor was its simple grammar. Hu Shi ensured that baihua had a grammar that is simple, sensible and logical, not obnoxious or full of the indirect expressions of wenyan grammar, nor cluttered with vague grammar rules as was common in wenyan writing. It is so easy that you don’t have to go to school or engage a tutor to acquire it. (“Autobiography” 335) These are the reasons he argues for the abolition of wenyan. However, he misses the fundamental reason for the abolition. Whether a language is dead or alive shouldn’t be judged by its level of difficulty but by its usability. An extensively used language, even if it is extremely complex, irrational, and defective, is still alive. In contrast, a language, no matter how simple and sensible, is dead if not in use. A living language cannot be abolished just as a dying person cannot be saved. According to modern linguistics, language activities are social in nature. No one can create or change a language by themselves. A language’s existence is, rather, determined by an agreement among its social interlocutors. And language is a system, established through social practice and observed by its users. Like all systems, it is rather stable. Hu Shi is aware of stability in language, as he acknowledges that “Vocabulary in a language is the most stable and conservative in the world, and even more so than religion” (“Autobiography” 307). He elaborates on 130 6 NOTHING BUT CULTURE: THE PEN WAR BETWEEN HU SHI... the conservative nature of language: “Language resembles religion in that it has to be part of common people’s life, but when it becomes social and accepted by everyone, it tends to be conservative and unwilling to change” (“Autobiography” 07). As a language system, wenyan includes some words that people no longer use, but this doesn’t mean that wenyan as a language is dying or dead. All languages evolve, so changes in vocabulary happen all the time. Likewise, baihua also has many words no longer in use, but we cannot declare that it is a dead language. Hu Shi called for the replacement of wenyan without realizing that it is a system with its own mode of discourse, too traditional to suit modern life. Similarly, baihua represents a new system of thought, congruous with its contemporary social developments. His theories of language matched people’s wish for the abolition of the entire traditional system of thought. This is why the baihua movement became so successful within a short span of time, leading, in turn, to the success of the May Fourth New Culture Movement. Traditionally, language is viewed as a vehicle for thought. So, when an invisible and intangible thought takes form, it has to rely on language to come into being. However, modern linguistics maintains that thought and language are inseparable because the study of thought depends on the study of language. Scholars such as A. J. Ayer even contend that language is thought and there is no difference between the process of thought and its articulation. Xu Youyu gives the following reasons for this: Firstly, any higher and complicated mental activities are connected with language. When processing complex logic, mathematical reasoning, pondering over the questions in quantum physics, and theory of relativity, we must be assisted with language and professional terms and symbols, otherwise, the thinking cannot be completed … It is unimaginable that without language people can think about such philosophical questions as “the existence of God,” “kindness” and “essence.” Secondly … we have to consider language and thought the same thing rather than believe that there exists a process of translation between them. Thirdly, it is generally the same when one gains knowledge in a certain field and can carry on effective thinking in the field as one acquires the terms and language skills of the field. For instance, the acquisition of professional terminology of physics and proficiency in using them means the acquisition of physics knowledge. Likewise, the process of learning daily language is to learn how to reflect and explain the process of our daily life. (7–8) 1 A CRITIQUE OF HU SHI’S THEORY OF BAIHUA WRITING 131 Language is not a tool that humans can manipulate freely. When we speak, we don’t control language; instead, we are “part” of the language system; language speaks through us – we do not speak the language. However, it is vain to deny the instrumental usefulness of language, which is basically limited to the range of simple daily life. When we are engaged in complex forms of mental activity, our language behavior in these activities cannot be claimed as instrumental acts. Rather, language itself is the process of the activity, because the language process is the same as the mental process. Language activity is mental activity. A language’s vocabulary can be divided into two parts: the practical and the ideological. Practical vocabulary includes material nouns, verbs about daily life, certain specific adjectives and prepositions. Practical vocabulary is more instrumental. Ideological vocabulary mainly comprises conceptual nouns and conjunctions that are used to indicate judgment and relationships in grammar. Ideological vocabulary is relatively small in a language system but, nevertheless, it clearly represents the characteristics of a nation’s cultural spirit and mode of thinking. The difference between the two language systems fundamentally lies not in formal signs, phonology, grammar, or practical vocabulary but in ideological vocabulary. It follows that the difference between Chinese and Western thought can be demonstrated by their respective ideological vocabularies. For instance, conceptual nouns and terms such as “emperor and minister,” “three cardinal guides and five constant virtues,” “loyalty-filial piety-moral integrity-brotherhood- loyalty,” “yin yang” (the two opposing forces in nature), “the five essential elements in nature,” “the Tao,” “vital energy,” and so forth form the basic framework of ancient Chinese thought and modes of thinking because they constitute the central ideological vocabulary in the ancient Chinese system. For this reason, it was impossible to transcend ancient Chinese thought as long as wenyan as a system continued in use. Examining Hu Shi’s baihua theory in line with this linguistic view, I liken his linguistic approach to an ideological revolution, but find that his traditional instrumental view of language brings him to the edge of the essence of language. Hu Shi finds that “The entire history of Chinese literature has indicated that, since medieval times, language in China was no longer a useful tool. It could no longer fully express peoples’ ideas and thought” (“Autobiography” 312). Here he is vaguely aware of the internal relationship between language and thought. The pity is that this thought seems like a flash in the pan, vanishing in a second. Hu Shi also realizes the paramount importance of external influences on the development of Chinese 132 6 NOTHING BUT CULTURE: THE PEN WAR BETWEEN HU SHI... literature and culture: “What I meant by the input of new thought and theories is basically to help solve practical problems we are facing today” (“Autobiography” 342–343). However, he does not connect thought with language, hence the division of the question into two separate issues. For Hu Shi, baihua is neither a new language system nor a new mode of discourse. It is not a new way of thinking but rather another new language tool, as he asserts that, “with this new tool, we are able to talk about new ideas and new spirit and so forth” (“Autobiography” 156). In comparison, Wang Guowei offers a more rational understanding of the nature of language during the dramatic transition years of Chinese culture at the beginning of the last century. The opening paragraph of his 1905 article “On the Creation of New Terms” reads: In the recent years, an apparent literary phenomenon draws my attention, that is, the creation of many new phrases. A nations’ Language represents its thought. The depth of thought is reflected in refined language just as coarse language represents shallowness of thought. By looking into the quality of a nation’s language, we can assume how refined a nation’s thought is. The language in the Zhou and Qin dynasties was not sufficient for the times when Buddhist scriptures were translated. Similarly, the recent language seems insufficient for translating Western works. The difficulty in translation doesn’t lie in the differences between languages, but in differences in thought which characterizes a nation … Language represents one’s thought and ideas. Thereby, the input of new ideas means the input of the new terms. (40–41) Wang Guowei recognizes the inseparable relationship between a nation’s language and its thought. In this sense, the influx of new phrases and terms marks the influx of new thought. Regrettably, he is not fully accepted and understood in this regard, even today. Closer analysis of Hu Shi’s modern baihua literature theory reveals that Hu Shi does not differentiate between the two baihua movements in tandem, and that he barely understands that the modern baihua he promoted is a new language system. Hu Shi admits that he also notices the “Europeanization” phenomenon in baihua writing: “In fact, the trend has started at the initial stage of baihua literature … In recent years this trend has become more obvious and bold” (“Introduction” 130). He states that “fully absorbing the deliberate structures of Western languages is meant to enable our language to convey more complex thought and theory” (“Introduction” 132). Obviously, this inverts the relationship between grammar, vocabulary, and 2 THE MODERNIST QUALITY OF THE RATIONAL CONSERVATIVE... 133 thought. He acknowledges that, “in the past two decades, baihua literature has made our national language richer, fresher, more capable and expressive” (“Introduction” 132). However, hindered by his deep-rooted traditional view of language as a tool, Hu is unable to see this more expressive “national language” enriched by Western terms and concepts as a new mode of discourse and a new system. Although well trained in wenyan, Hu Shi wrote in baihua before he went to the USA to study, as is shown by his published articles, diaries, and some letters. He recounts that “Editing the Ten-day Newspaper not only gave me an opportunity to publicize and reorganize my thought dozens of times, but also allowed me to practice baihua for more than one year” (“Me” 85). Moreover, his overseas experience enabled him to think in baihua as he translated English terms and concepts into baihua. Meanwhile, wenyan limited him in expressing Western thought; hence his view that it was a dying language. I tend to think that his experience with baihua prompted him to promote it as an effective literary language. In sum, Hu Shi’s proposal to abolish wenyan by replacing it with baihua was inspiring and resonated well with the unavoidable trend of social development at that time, and his vision of baihua as a tool for publicizing new thought to enlighten the people was effective and powerful. Nonetheless, the reasons for his argument were rather superficial and did not touch on the fundamentals of this controversial issue. Reviewing the crucial roles that baihua played during the May Fourth Movement, it is hard to deny its instrumental usefulness. Yet in terms of the May Fourth ideological revolution, the modern baihua is not just a tool but a new system of thought. 2 The Modernist Quality of the Rational Conservative Xueheng School In the history of modern Chinese culture, both liberalism and radicalism blazed a trail and were hailed as representing a new culture for most people, who regarded the conservatism of the Xueheng School as a rigid deviation from the track of modern Chinese culture. Xueheng is the name of a magazine, meaning ‘The Critical Review’. In contrast to popular positions on the Xueheng School, I would argue that it represented modern conservatism or rational conservatism, an important component of modern Chinese culture. The Xueheng School of thought was not a natural evolution from traditional Chinese culture but a product of modern Western culture. Its 134 6 NOTHING BUT CULTURE: THE PEN WAR BETWEEN HU SHI... theoretical base was reinforced by Irving Babbitt’s new humanism in the early twentieth century. Babbitt sharply criticized the modern Western trend of blindly depending on science and technology to right social wrongs, and attacked all forms of modernism. Instead, he advocated the humanistic tradition and placed due emphasis on individual moral character and human reason as the internal forces able to save modern society from chaos and crises. Babbitt was deeply concerned about the New Culture Movement in China and supported China’s campaign of learning from the West, despite his warning that ancient Chinese civilization could be a moral resource to ward off the problems of modern materialism. Mei Guangdi and Wu Mi, two of the major contributors to the magazine, offered their ideas about the development of modern Chinese culture in line with Babbitt’s new humanism. In general, they had no objection to the campaign of learning from the West in regard to technology, social system, and culture. Nevertheless, they were opposed to the complete Westernization movement by arguing that Western culture was not perfect, and that it placed undue emphasis on consumerism, the major defect China needed to avoid. The Xueheng scholars were well versed in both traditional Chinese culture and Western culture, and well trained in both Chinese and Western academic traditions. Naturally, they belittled Hu Shi and the like for their insufficient knowledge, Chinese or Western, for their inability to choose and identify what China really needed to learn from the West, and for the rash and irresponsible Westernization campaign of the New Culture Movement. Mei Guangdi criticized the campaign proponents for their lack of “a deep examination of Western cultures due to their limited knowledge, hence an erroneous proposal” (“Proponents” 73). In addition, Tang Yongtong criticized Hu Shi and others for only “having a partial understanding of Western culture at the cost of losing the whole picture” (100). Wu Mi criticized the New Culture promoters for “focusing on only one Western theory, one type of articles, without knowing that the theory is discarded as poisonous dreg. They still promote it as the most representative of the whole Western culture” (“On the New Culture Movement” 78). The Western model included the universal trend for “modernization” and particular forms suitable to European and US cultural traditions. The universal part made China’s learning necessary, while the particular side required that the learning be selective and purposeful, as necessary for the circumstances. According to Mei Guangdi, “To reform the traditional culture by learning from others obligates one to have a thorough study of other 2 THE MODERNIST QUALITY OF THE RATIONAL CONSERVATIVE... 135 cultures first” (“Proponents” 77). He also suggested that evaluations of other cultures should be made “because what works well in the West may not be suitable in China. It is difficult to have a thorough understanding of Western culture and more challenging to offer what should be adopted” (“Proponents” 71). More significantly, the Xueheng School argued for an integration of the best of Western civilization and that of traditional Chinese civilization, as declared in their magazine “Manifesto”: “The aim is to carry out academic research, seek after truth, enhance the quintessence of our culture, and adopt new knowledge” (New Knowledge 494). It opposed calls for the abolition of traditional Chinese culture in order to build a new one by learning from the West. In Liu Yizheng’s words, “The principle should be the introduction of the genuine culture from Europe and America, and at the same time, enhance the genuine Chinese culture” (869). Wu Mi in his “On the New Culture Movement” offered a lengthy argument: The so-called New Culture means nothing but Western culture, for short, European culture. Since the last years of the Reign of Guangxu (1875–1908), there is a wide concern about the intrinsic conflict between Chinese and European cultures and a real worry that the popularity of European culture signals the disappearance of the quintessence of Chinese culture. The New Culture proponents prioritize the abolition of Chinese culture so as to create an environment for the input of European culture. Indeed, neither of them is correct … The quintessential European and Chinese cultures can benefit each other if in a conducive incorporation. As such, the enhancement of the best of Chinese culture and the promotion of European culture will produce more brilliant works of, and on arts. (82) With regard to building a modern Chinese culture, he believed that the only way would be To integrate the essence of Chinese and European cultures, and to melt them into one. This entails us to conduct thorough researches of Chinese ethics and moral cultivation, classical works in literature and philosophy and those of the present times. We have to preserve, enhance and promote those works; meanwhile we have to do the same to the European classical and contemporary works in literature and philosophy through translation. The European culture should be adopted for the best of Chinese culture. (“New Culture” 88) 136 6 NOTHING BUT CULTURE: THE PEN WAR BETWEEN HU SHI... Free from the dualism of the East and the West, the old and the new, Wu Mi offered his universal humanist view of Confucius and praised him as “not only the highest representative of the Chinese nation and Chinese culture, but … one of the few sages in the world throughout time” (“Value of Confucius”). Wu was liberal toward world culture and sages as he warned his contemporaries: “However, Confucius is not the only sage we need to turn to. Jesus, Sakyamuni, Plato, Aristotle and many others are, in the final analysis, just as sacred for us. There is no need to hold negative opinions against any of them” (“New Culture” 96). To his understanding, the successful construction of modern Chinese culture involved the absorption of the essence of Western and Chinese cultures. There is no dispute between the Xueheng School and the New Culture proponents led by Hu Shi over the need to build modern Chinese culture. Mei Guangdi acknowledges that “Everyone knows the inevitability of constructing a new culture” (“New Culture” 76). Their difference lies in their roadmaps due to their different concepts of culture. Chen Duxiu, one of principal proponents of the New Culture Movement, maintains that traditional Chinese culture and Western culture are by no means alike in terms of the mode of thinking and thought system. In fact, they often oppose each other: “The Chinese and the Westerners belong to different races with different systems of thought. A neat integration of the two is impossible unless we can merge the north with the south or mix water with oil” (“Differences” 165). In his “Reply to the Swordsmen (Confucianism),” Chen argues that “An acceptance of the new input of European culture means an entire denial of the doctrines of Confucianism and vice versa. There is no space for reconciliation between the old and the new” (281). In his “A Vindication of The New Youth,” Chen is at his best, with these words: “If you support Mr. Democracy, you have to oppose Confucianism, codes of rites and ethics, concept of chastity, obsolete ethics, and old politics; if you support Mr. Science, you have no choice but to oppose the so-called quintessence of Chinese culture and classical literature” (442–443). This reflects the radical dualistic ideas of the New Culture School, whose principle for building New Culture is making by breaking. In contrast, the Xueheng School insists that there are some differences in concepts between China and the West, but that there is also much that is compatible because truth transcends nation, time, and region. Chinese civilization has its merits, just as Western civilization has its demerits. Their vision of a new and modern Chinese culture was one that integrates the Western, the traditional, the new, and the old, as long as they are suitable. Wu Mi argues: 2 THE MODERNIST QUALITY OF THE RATIONAL CONSERVATIVE... 137 The humanism of Mencius lays the first building block for our moral cultivation and scholarly engagement. The introduction of Plato and Aristotle enables us to do comparative studies. The introduction of major Western scholars since them can also be integrated with the best of our culture, which will lay a solid foundation for organizing and governing our society. That would be best we can have: keeping the best of ours and acquiring the best from the West. Thus, we would cherish the hope for the construction of our new culture. (Qtd in Yu Sheng 195) The Xueheng School values moral character, as is common in New Humanism, which strengthens their emotional attachment to traditional Chinese culture. Their belief in human reasoning enables them to defend traditional Chinese culture in a rational manner. Moreover, they are also rational in their criticism of the New Culture School. In theory, the Xueheng School’s defense is more logical, and their criticism of the New Culture School’s one-sidedness seems quite sensible. But, like their opponents, they are rather idealistic, academic, and purely theoretical without a real understanding of such practical issues as the mentality and psychological needs of the people; the special historical background in China; the political, economic and military conditions; people’s acceptance of Western culture; cultural exclusiveness; the force of cultural assimilation; and difference. Relatively speaking, the New Culture School is more sensitive to social needs, richer in experience of social work, and more in alignment with the times. In my view, the argument of the Xueheng School is fair and moderate, and its principle is flawless. However, under special historical conditions, this fairness and moderation actually signify conservatism and partiality. It is self-evident that modern Western civilization, with its overt emphasis on technology and science, had its defects, but the Chinese people then favored it over traditional Chinese civilization, as it was “perfect” to most people. The people’s choice was a realistic question rather than a theoretical one. The Xueheng School tried to rectify the New Culture School’s one- sidedness by defending traditional culture. Its defense logically determined its choice of wenyan as its language tool. Its insistence on using wenyan drew the most criticism. I see this as its fatal mistake. Another conceptual error was that it regarded language as a mere tool. As Shao Zuping claims, “One’s words reflect one’s mind, ideas and academic competence. The success of the reflection totally depends on whether one has a clear mind, impressive insight or strong academic competence … Writings instruct. 138 6 NOTHING BUT CULTURE: THE PEN WAR BETWEEN HU SHI... Whether the medium is wenyan or baihua, there will be no difference” (124). With such a view of language, the Xueheng School tried to maintain the orthodox position of wenyan and opposed replacing it with the modern baihua. However, language is more ideological in nature than form. The classical and modern baihua resemble each other in form but differ fundamentally at the ideological level. It is the right strategy for the Xueheng scholars to use wenyan to defend traditional Chinese culture, just as it is a mistake to express modern thought in wenyan, which assimilates their modern ideas into the classical system, aligning them with the impenetrable diehard traditionalists. The Xueheng School is a major component of modern Chinese culture. Although it maintained a close connection with and opted for traditional culture mentally, in nature it was detached from traditional Chinese culture and closer to modernism. As Sun Shangyang evaluates, “The new generation of cultural conservatives represented by the Xueheng school not only transcends the attachment on feudal monarchy as numerous traditional Confucian scholars did in the past, but also showcases a new line of reasoning for keeping the tradition” (4). According to Li Yi, the Xueheng scholars Who have a wider vision, well-versed in both Chinese and Western cultures, able to incorporate the classical with the modern, well engaged to reforming Chinese culture. They are set to seek for truth, and promote the best of traditional Chinese culture in an objective manner with insights … They exist as a school of thought among modern Chinese intellectuals. (154) The Xueheng School resembles the New Culture School since both are the products of Western culture. However, the former was influenced by Western conservatism and the latter by Western liberalism and radicalism. The New Culture School’s advocacy for a clean break from and abolition of traditional Chinese culture resulted from its Western influences. The Xueheng School defended and reviewed traditional culture not out of blind faith in it but for the purpose of finding ways for a transition to modernity. In arguments and reasoning, they are more rational and complement the New Culture School. The Xueheng School differed from the diehards of the old system as the latter took classicism for its fundamentals, protected Confucian doctrines and ethics, took a dogmatic position in its objection to modern culture, and adopted an inimical attitude toward the radical New Culture School and the conservative Xueheng School. In Shen Weiwei’s words, “The Xueheng 2 THE MODERNIST QUALITY OF THE RATIONAL CONSERVATIVE... 139 School’s conservatism emerges at the same time as liberalism and radicalism in China. All three are the inseparable components…. It is run under the same framework of (modern Chinese culture)” (4). The debate between the Xueheng School and the Radicals was actually not over the issue of tradition vs. modernity but a continued debate between modern Western radicalism and conservatism. As Zheng Zhenduo observes The attack on new literature from Lin Shu and his colleagues is pure enthusiasm for the defense of traditional culture, because he believes in tradition, but Hu Shi and his colleagues and Mei Guangdi and his look the same when they heavily cite in their writing Western literary theories as their amulets. (13) Lin Shu is a diehard traditionalist while Mei Guangdi, Hu Xianshu and Wu Mi are classicists or new conservatives in opposition to liberalism and radicalism. To a certain degree, the conservatives and the Radicals were dialoguing within the parameters of modernism. In fact, what the Xueheng School objected to was not modern Chinese literature and culture but the claims and positions represented by Hu Shi, Chen Duxiu and the like. Modern Chinese culture didn’t evolve as they had advocated, although their contribution cannot be underestimated. They laid out its roadmap but modern Chinese culture was the outcome of the integration of theory, claims, ideas, and schools, among which the Xueheng played an important role. The New Culture School castigated the Xueheng School for its diehard position on traditional culture. In their counterattack, the Xueheng conservatives were just as self-righteous occasionally but overall they were moderate in their tone and rational in their argument with something of a modern academic perspective. They were opposed to dogmatism and r adicalism, as illustrated by Mei Guandi’s letter to Hu Shi: “The contemporary academic field should have the spirit of tolerance and should acknowledge the value of opponents. Only by this can we break academic autocracy” (“Letter” 167). Chronologically, the Xueheng School came onto the historical stage with a middle-way position after the diehard traditionalists were overwhelmed by the Radicals. However, the Xueheng School became the new target of the Radicals. Being the target forced it to assume responsibility for curbing the Radicals. Overall, the Xueheng School was not against the New Culture Movement and even acknowledged that it “has undeniable value” (Liu Boming 111). That said, the Xueheng School took a harsh attitude toward the New Culture School’s radicalism as Mei Guangdi condemned the Radicals for 140 6 NOTHING BUT CULTURE: THE PEN WAR BETWEEN HU SHI... being “too obstinate to be awakened to realize that you are bigoted in your own academic work, but willing to vilify others without restraint for their work” (“Proposal” 131). In fact, it was through opposing academic autocracy of the Radicals and restraining their extensive publicity that the Xueheng School’s significant role was acknowledged in the development of modern Chinese culture. The Xueheng School, as stated above, was contingent on the advent of the New Culture Movement. Therefore its value and significance certainly depended on those of the New Culture School. They were the opponents with the purpose of rectifying the Radicals’ errors. Indeed, it was their correcting effort that made up their huge contribution to the construction of modern Chinese culture. The radicalism of the New Culture Movement was typically represented by Hu Shi as he thus bashed Chinese civilization in comparison with Western civilization: “Nothing Chinese is good. It is inferior in machinery, in political system, in people’s moral character, in knowledge, in literature, in music, in art and even in body build and health” (“Introduction” 515). This kind of nihilism invited sharp criticism from the Xueheng School, with the intent to awaken the Radicals. In fact, it was their criticisms that made the New Culture Movement develop more healthily. Or, rather, it was their continued effort in pointing out the Radicals’ loopholes that constrained the Radicals. Shen Weiwei grapples with the significance of the Xueheng School in checking the Radicals: As part of the world trend of opposing modernism, the Xueheng School is influenced by American New Humanism at the initial stage of China’s modernization campaign, but later, it accepts the political, economic and technological features of modernization. Continually, it argues for the importance and significance of cultural inheritance and warns about the possibilities of the loss of humanism, moral integrity, and spiritual alienation as might be the outcome of cultural radicalism and scientism. (6) Gao Like maintains that “the tension of ‘history’ and ‘value’ as a dual theme in modern Chinese thought brings forth two different trends: learning from the West and surpassing the West (surpassing Western paradigms)” (282). On the previous page he writes: For modern intellectuals, their awareness of the historical trend of modernization and the survival crisis of the Chinese nation and their innate sensibility of classical Chinese have become the two-dimension driving forces for their value selection … It is the tension and the interactive relationship 3 HU SHI AND THE XUEHENG SCHOOL ON THE CONCEPT... 141 between their awareness of the historical trend and value selection that determine their ideological orientations. In short, the interactive tension between “history” and “value” constitutes the basic structure of their concepts of Chinese modernization. (281) The New Culture School promoted the paradigm of “learning from the West,” whereas the Xueheng scholars called for the paradigm that transcends the West. The former believed that it was culture that made the West developed and powerful without identifying the real cultural strength behind its advancement. As a result, it brought in whatever was Western and easily to hand. However, the Xueheng School took a more prudent attitude toward Western culture. The debate and interaction between the two schools not only determined the orientation but also constructed the basic structure of modern Chinese culture. In this sense, the Xueheng School should be acknowledged for its contributions to modern Chinese culture. 3 Hu Shi and the Xueheng School on the Concept of Language The debate between the New Culture School and the Xueheng School can be reduced to that between Hu Shi and the Xueheng scholars as the latter basically targeted the former. In this section I shall explore their differences in their language views, theoretical claims, and ideology for the purpose of a more thorough understanding of the New Culture and New Literature Movements. The most outstanding difference between them was their choice of language. Hu Shi promoted modern baihua in theory and remained an active practitioner, whereas the Xueheng scholars did the same with wenyan. Previous studies claim that the language difference was superficial without any substantial significance. In fact, their differences in theoretical claims and cultural practice can be explained by examining their concepts of language, because these reflect their differences in thought and worldviews. Neither Hu Shi nor the Xueheng scholars ever openly talked about the role language plays in the process of thinking from a language perspective. However, indirect sources reveal clearly the role that language played in the process of their thought. According to Hu Shi, those who “use the dead classical Chinese have to dress their message in the age-old allusions, and have to rely on the century-old ancient Chinese to express their feelings” 142 6 NOTHING BUT CULTURE: THE PEN WAR BETWEEN HU SHI... (“Literary Revolution” 46). Although he didn’t mention what language should be used to express the message and feelings, Hu Shi, given the context, clearly preferred the modern baihua. Zhou Zuoren further explained: “Thought is thought and language is language. When one wants to present one’s thought in written form, one has to go through a process of translation. Inability to directly express oneself is the fatal setback of using classical Chinese” (“Suggestions” 772). Zhou indicated that some people actually think in baihua but choose to express themselves in wenyan. However, Mei Guangdi retorted: “You mean that people think in baihua, and when they write it out, they use wenyan. The writing process is the process of translation. How hypocritical and wanton! Scholars in the past thousands of years never had such experience. How misleading and deceitful!” (“Proponents” 72–73). Certainly, it is inappropriate to conclude that what Hu Shi said is “deceitful,” and that what Mei said is wrong. This not only reflects their difference in ideas but also their difference in mode and process of thinking. This can be seen as the difference in a personal language experience, but it makes more sense to see their difference as typical of the time. Mei Guangdi’s preference for wenyan speaks for the majority of traditional intellectuals, who grow up with wenyan training and naturally think in wenyan. For them, wenyan is not only elegant in form but also convenient to use, whether in thinking or writing. However, most new intellectuals and the common people think in baihua, who feel it is extremely troublesome to translate what is in their mind into wenyan when writing. What appears crucial is that, with the continuous input of Western concepts, wenyan proves less and less adequate for expressing modern ideas. Arguably, this is the starting point of the divergence between Hu Shi and the Xueheng School. The process of the language formation of Hu Shi is representative of the transition period of modern Chinese. In ancient China the separation between the spoken language (baihua) and the written language (wenyan) continued for thousands of years. However, baihua was mainly a daily instrument for oral communication, whereas wenyan was used for writing, serving as a carrier and representation of thought and culture. In other words, thought was mainly expressed through wenyan rather than baihua. Therefore, traditional intellectuals mainly focused on reading the classics and received wenyan training in order to shape their thought. Hu Shi was no exception. At age three, he was taught to read books prepared by his father. Later, the books he read included The Book of Songs, The Book of Filial Piety, The Small Learning, The Grand Learning, Mencius, 3 HU SHI AND THE XUEHENG SCHOOL ON THE CONCEPT... 143 The Doctrine of the Mean, The Book of History, The Book of Changes, and The Book of Rites. He read All Men Are Brothers, a baihua fiction, when he was nine years old (Hu Shi, “Forty” 45–50). Reading is the most effective way to train thinking and writing ability. His early education served both purposes. However, unlike most intellectuals, Hu Shi liked reading baihua fiction since his childhood, which generated a significant impact on his non- orthodoxy in both language use and theory. Hu acknowledged that reading fiction “helps me write more lucidly and sensibly” (“Forty” 50). Obviously, he referred to baihua “lucidly and sensibly.” There is no question that reading baihua fiction augmented his baihua competence. His baihua contributions to the Jingye Ten-day Periodical sharpened his mind and language competence. Before long, as he admitted, “baihua becomes my tool” (“Forty” 85). It also meant that he began to think in baihua. His eight-year studies in the USA helped him to use baihua not only as a linguistic tool but also as an ideological system. “Diaries of Hu Shi: Studying Abroad” most directly records his life and changes of thought during his studies in the USA, as he acknowledged: “All these seventeen volumes record the entire history of the personal life, inner life and mental changes of a young Chinese student for about seven years” (“Foreword” to “Diaries”). What interests me is that most entries are in baihua, a sure sign that he might have thought in baihua, and as time progressed, more and more entries were written in English, especially when treating important ideological issues. This is another sign that English also played a crucial role in the formation of his modern thought. Hu Shi accepted new ideas in English during his stay in the USA and he thought in English. When he needed to express himself in Chinese, he preferred baihua, despite the fact that wenyan was the official written form of Chinese commonly accepted at that time. Normally, if Hu Shi anticipated a good reception of his new ideas in China, he would have to translate English into baihua, and then translate baihua into wenyan. Translation between the first two languages is difficult but it needs a Herculean effort to transact idea transference between the latter two because there exist no equivalents for the new terms and conceptual nouns in wenyan. Similar difficulties came up when translating from English into baihua, but it was less daunting because he could create or borrow new terms as the modern baihua was just fledgling. In fact, at that time, baihua as a language system had not yet been established. However, in comparison with wenyan, it is more flexible and able to absorb modern Western new ideas. 144 6 NOTHING BUT CULTURE: THE PEN WAR BETWEEN HU SHI... Likewise, the representative conservatives such as Mei Guangdi and Wu Mi were also returnees from the USA after completing their modern education. They were bilingual scholars. However, unlike Hu Shi, they used English and wenyan. That is to say, when they wrote for a Chinese audience they used wenyan because of their formal training in wenyan, which was the only language that gave shape to their thought. It was psychologically comfortable for them to use wenyan, and understandable for them to firmly reject baihua, which they were by no means proficient in using. Wenyan was not only the language form they identified with but also the language they fondly cherished for aesthetic reasons. To them there was no inconvenience in translating modern English concepts into wenyan. Hu Shi sneered at them for their dependence on wenyan, “Because writing in baihua is too difficult a task they cannot finish, they prefer wenyan for a reason” (“Literary Revolution” 51). That reason can be personal. Hu Shi promoted baihua owing to his empirical inconvenience with wenyan, just as Mei Guangdi and other conservatives’ opposition resulted from their strict training in wenyan. There was another reason for Hu Shi’s arduous promotion of baihua, which he believed was the language for new literature, because “every generation has its own literature” (“Historical Concept” 27). To him, literature evolved historically. He operated the evolutional view of literature as a lethal weapon against the diehard conservatives: “We will count on the historical view of literature to destroy the weapon of the classical literature” (“Brief History” 126). The weapon he found fatal was baihua. On the basis of his historical concept of literature and the need to promote baihua as a literary language for modern China and to justify baihua as a replacement for wenyan in building a new culture, Hu Shi offered a new but bold explanation for the historical development of Chinese literature. He assured us that “Since ancient times, all the best verse lines are written in baihua” (“Reasons” 50). In “Forced to Join the Liangshan Rebels,” he asserts that “The history of Chinese literature is merely a history of a metabolism of language forms, hence the constant replacement of ‘dead literature by ‘living literature’” (146). He notes in “The History of baihua Literature” that “This history remains central in the history of Chinese literature, for without the baihua literature, the literary literature would be empty. Then, it should be renamed as ‘The History of Ancient Chinese Language’” (150). In order to justify his promotion of the importance of modern baihua Literature, he states: “The colloquial literature is always the orthodox literature in China, which implies that a modern literature revolution 3 HU SHI AND THE XUEHENG SCHOOL ON THE CONCEPT... 145 conforms to the trend of historical development … Whatever merits wenyan has, so does modern baihua. The power of baihua is beyond the scope of wenyan” (“Liangshan Rebels” 147). Some of his statements are fallacious and inaccurate, and sure to invite criticism and debate, but his promotion of baihua gained wide support. Even though Hu Shi’s name is synonymous with the May Fourth baihua Movement for his theoretical and practical contributions, his understanding of the nature of baihua as an instrument is present throughout his discussion of the functions of baihua. The modern baihua constitutes the basic framework of modern Chinese or the national language, but Hu Shi promoted it as a more effective medium to express new thought without realizing that it develops into a new system, modern and with its ideological implications: “Form and content have an inseparable relationship. Confinement in form prohibits the free development of spirit, which hinders a sufficient expression of good content. We have to break (wenyan) shackles to express a new spirit and content” (“New Poetry” 134). For Hu Shi, language in nature is form, while content and spirit are outside of language but can be expressed through language. It was insightful for Hu Shi to promote baihua, although the reasons he offered were less than convincing. It is true that the baihua movement brought forth the emergence of Modern Chinese literature and the New Culture Movement, and the transformation of the Chinese language from its wenyan form to its baihua form, which finally became modern Chinese. It is also true that the baihua movement facilitated the modernization of Chinese society. However, his theories on baihua were not well wrought. It is not surprising at all that the Xueheng School fired all its shots at his view of language and literature. Shao Zuping refused to accept Hu Shi’s statement that baihua literature held a central place in the history of Chinese literature, “As for literature, our poetry, ci [a type of classical poetry composed to musical tunes], qu [drama], fiction, and chuanqi [legendary s tories] over a history of more than two thousand years are well established and developed to purist beauty. And the lyrical narratives are complex or simple in plot as needed” (121). A few pages later, he writes, “If writing enlightens, then what difference does it make to write in wenyan or baihua?” (124). Against Hu Shi’s declaration that “wenyan is dead,” he argues that “The demise of a language is determined by its artistic achievements in literature not by the time of its emergence” (125). For the Xueheng scholars, wenyan, elegant, graceful and convenient, could serve all occasions and purposes. Shao argued that both wenyan and baihua writings enlighten with truth, 146 6 NOTHING BUT CULTURE: THE PEN WAR BETWEEN HU SHI... but he didn’t clarify what truth they enlightened with. The question is not how writing enlightens in general but what truth wenyan writing enlightens in particular. Neither school acknowledged that wenyan was fraught with feudal ideology and thought. That was the truth with wenyan. The Xueheng scholars might have refused to acknowledge that, whereas the New Culture School ignored the innate relationship between language and thought, or they were never aware of it. Historically the Xueheng School’s opposition to the May Fourth baihua Movement was unacceptable although its reasons were not entirely erroneous. On the contrary, they often sounded more rational and sensible. As far as the implications of thought and culture are concerned, the May Fourth baihua Movement was a language revolution that aimed to replace the wenyan system. Rationally and sometimes emotionally, both schools defended their language positions on the basis of language in general. It is no surprise at all that neither won. Reviewing the debate on the baihua movement between Hu Shi and the Xueheng School has led us to conclude that both sides understood the May Fourth baihua movement as a language tool. Second, Hu Shi’s promotion of baihua was correct, although he often missed the crucial point in his reasons and argumentations. The Xueheng scholars’ opposition to baihua didn’t mean that they were opposed to modern Chinese culture. In fact, like Hu Shi, they also called for the construction of modern Chinese culture, if by a different roadmap and strategy based on their classicist position. They refused the Radical abolition of all that was traditional and argued for the necessity of retaining and enhancing the best that China had produced. To them, one such best aspect was wenyan, as is manifest in the “Foreword” of the debut issue of The Critical Review (Xueheng): It is our highest hope to use our elegant Chinese (wenyan) to fluently express Western ideas. It is also our belief that wenyan, if used adequately and creatively, demonstrates not only its power as a language but also presents an author’s utmost talent. No need is seen to change its grammar and syntax to destroy the beauty of its form. (Sun Shangyang and Guo Lanfang 494) Third, the Xueheng School’s tenacious insistence on wenyan shows its intention as an around-about way to defend traditional Chinese thought as wenyan as a language system determines the range of one’s thought, 4 HU SHI AND THE XUEHENG SCHOOL ON THE CONCEPT... 147 and as a means to assimilate Western ideas into the wenyan system. Fourth, the Xueheng scholars’ superb proficiency in classical Chinese culture and language impeded them from being fully open to modern Western thought, although they accepted modern Western humanism and conservatism. Fifth, their headstrong insistence on wenyan prevented them from becoming pioneers of modern Chinese culture but sent them down the road of powerful opposition to modern thought. Sixth, although the Xueheng scholars and Hu Shi were close in their formal education and knowledge structure, their essential difference in their views on language caused their sharply conflicting ideas regarding wenyan and baihua, as well as other cultural issues. 4 Hu Shi and the Xueheng School on the Concept of Cultural Construction The New Culture proponents made their names through their iconoclastic opposition to traditional Chinese culture. They embodied their slogan that there is no making without breaking. During the process of breaking and making, Hu Shi was the most active in theory and practice, and he is recognized as the most prominent figure in the history of modern Chinese literature and culture for his enviable contributions and achievements. Hu Shi was not only an enlightenment thinker but also a practitioner of what he promoted in theory. In contrast, the Xueheng scholars, good at t heories, were committed to rational thinking about cultural issues but with little interest in applying theories to practice. They had ambitious goals but were unwilling to offer any practical approaches for realizing them. Even if they developed plans, they had no interest in implementing them. As a formidable opposition force, the Xueheng School played an indispensable role in the history of Modern Chinese culture and was recognized as an integral part of it. However, opposition itself was not the goal: the ultimate end was to construct it. It was precisely over how to design and construct modern Chinese literature and culture that Hu Shi and the Xueheng School demonstrated their greatest disparity. Hu Shi attached importance to rationality and even more to practice and effectiveness. However, the Xueheng School mainly consisted of theorists and scholars who paid more attention to discussing problems from a theoretical point of view and lacked practical experience. As such, the goal designed by them was ideal and rational, but the implementation 148 6 NOTHING BUT CULTURE: THE PEN WAR BETWEEN HU SHI... lacked feasibility. In other words, their theory could not lead to the goals they had set. Hu Shi weighed the feasibility and outcome when he pondered the question of building up a modern culture in China, and he believed that turning to the West was the only way—hence he advanced the “complete Westernization” slogan during the May Fourth Movement even though he knew clearly that it was a mission impossible and that the wording was highly controversial. However, he didn’t intend to take in everything from the West but to accomplish moderate Westernization: The highest goal might promise a moderate gain, and a moderate goal may end up with some gains … The call for a complete Westernization will naturally lead to a compromise … Even a partial Westernization, when compromising with the inertia of traditional culture, will unavoidably make it become a compromised Chinese-based new culture. (“After Word” 671) A complete Westernization exposes obvious problems in theoretical principles, which, however, is perfect in terms of implementation. Lu Xun, a thinker and practitioner, knew the truth inherent in the art of compromise: For instance, if you say this room is too dim and needs to have a window in the wall, people will definitely refuse. However, if you first propose to tear the roof down to let light in, people will make a concession and are willing to make a window. Similarly, without a more radical proposal, they are not even willing to agree on a moderate reform. Back then, the reason for the slow acceptance of the modern baihua was that proposals for using the Roman alphabet to replace Chinese characters experienced some popularity. (“Silent China” 13–14) This clearly indicates that Lu Xun and Hu Shi as thinkers, founders, and pioneers of modern Chinese culture and literature would transcend their theories when they sought desirable outcomes. In contrast, the Xueheng School was caught up in and confined to its theory. The “Foreword to The Critical Review” states very concretely that “The journal is committed to exploring academic issues, illuminating truth, enhancing quintessential Chinese culture, and integrating new knowledge. Criticisms will be conducted with a sound and fair view, free from partisan positions and radicalism” (Sun Shangyang and Guo Lanfang 494). Mei Guangdi, the leading scholar of the Xueheng School, thus advises: 4 HU SHI AND THE XUEHENG SCHOOL ON THE CONCEPT... 149 Real scholars seek for truth for the sake of truth, and attach more importance to self-confidence in discovering truth than presenting their worldly knowledge. Real scholars work for self-contentment rather than seek distinction and immediate social reward. Therefore, they work industriously for their whole life with high expectations for discovering truth. They don’t publish their work without prudent verification. (“Proponents” 74) Mei outlines the guidelines for his colleagues when engaging in academic research. However, any cultural development, especially a tangible cultural reform, as a process of incessant practice and exploration, cannot be conducted in a peaceful and leisurely manner as the Xueheng School designed and predicted. Its attitude to the New Culture Movement reflects its pedantries and obstinacy in its traditional concept of culture and academic work. As for the construction of the New Culture, Hu Shi was a “doer” and a “go-getter” but the Xueheng scholars were mere “talkers.” In relation to academic principles, the Xueheng School seemed more prudent, objective, and reasonable, as stated in the “Foreword” of its journal: We are committed to perusing Western books to gain comprehensive knowledge to enable us to explore, articulate and prudently critique complex ideas on the basis of a thorough understanding of what we read. We urge our scholars to be fully dedicated to academic work with a humble attitude toward research so as to avoid being fooled by one’s biased opinion and by hearsay. (Sun Shangyang and Guo Lanfang 494) Moreover, another leading Xueheng scholar, Wu Mi, asserts: The goal of constructing a new culture dictates that we tax the utmost of our talents to fully understand and integrate the cultural quintessence of the Eastern and Western civilizations. Specifically, we must research, preserve, promote and enhance our classics and contemporary works of philosophy, literature and art, and must examine, translate, comprehend and research Western classics in philosophy, literature and art. (“New Culture” 88) Mei Guangdi not only sets the principles but also offers a strategy for constructing modern Chinese culture: The same principle must be observed whether it is to reform our own culture or to absorb from other cultures, that is, we must start with a 150 6 NOTHING BUT CULTURE: THE PEN WAR BETWEEN HU SHI... thorough study and a wise judgment in addition to a well-planned roadmap. Thus, there will emerge hundreds of masters before long with a thorough knowledge of both Chinese and Western classics and contemporary learning, who will be willing to enlighten the common people. As such, it shall surely generate a significant change of our culture in about half a century. (“Proponents” 77) Then it would be an ideal form of culture and perfect in terms of theoretical principles and strategy. However, it would only happen under ideal conditions without taking into account cultural tradition, national mentality, politics, economy, military affairs, and so forth. Those variables are least recognized by the Xueheng School. The so-called “thorough study” is a very vague definition, and there will never be enough time for scholars to thoroughly understand some fundamental questions before finding solutions to the construction of modern Chinese culture. With regard to theoretical principles, there exist many loopholes in Hu Shi’s theory on culture and literature. According to Li Zehou, “Hu Shi is rather mediocre in knowledge of Chinese classics, Western academic achievements, the depth of thought, breakthroughs of theory and other aspects. In fact, he is far behind many of his predecessors and contemporaries. And many of his junior scholars outshine him in those aspects” (95–96). This evaluation is, by and large, appropriate. Even so, Hu Shi is considered to be a pioneer of the May Fourth New Literature Movement and New Culture Movement, although the movements didn’t proceed as designed and predicted by him. He secured an indisputable position in the history of modern Chinese culture and literature more by his practice rather than the depth and rigorousness of his theory. Tong Tekong comments thus on Hu Shi as a scholar: If no more demonstrations were on the street, and the flags were put away, Hu Shi’s few books wouldn’t establish him as a serious scholar. In fact, he is good for nothing if we look at him as a scholar. He is not even qualified for annotating the geographic classic A Commentary on Waterways (Shuijingzhu) (Random Memories 46). The most serious criticism the Xueheng School directed against Hu Shi and the New Culture School was that they only had a superficial knowledge of Chinese and Western culture. Tang Yongtong accused the New Culture School of “merely focusing on one respect and losing the sight of the whole 4 HU SHI AND THE XUEHENG SCHOOL ON THE CONCEPT... 151 picture” (100). Mei Guangdi found the New Culture School guilty of “having a shallow knowledge and understanding of Western culture. What you laboriously select to introduce is ridiculous. Your selection is disrespect to Western culture” (“Proponents” 73). Wu Mi blamed them for only selecting the recent Western popular works of one academic school without knowing that those works are currently seen as venomous garbage. But, they treat them as the embodiment of the highest achievements of Western culture. They waywardly create their own writing style, which is neither fish nor fowl, and neither Chinese nor Western. (“On the New Culture Movement” 78) A few pages later, Wu Mi continues his comment on the New Culture School, “They are only interested in introducing one type of theory before having a thorough study and understanding of Western civilization. Their erroneous slogans are misleading, nothing new in them but sheer novelty” (81). He defends his criticism of the New Culture proponents not because “they publicize new ideas, but because what they propose is one-sided, opinionated and harmful for Chinese people…. In short, I don’t criticize the New Culture Movement for its name but for what they mean by it” (“On the New Culture Movement” 88). These quotations by different Xueheng scholars share one opinion: that the New Culture proponents generalize Western culture without a comprehensive understanding of it, therefore it is inevitable that their arguments are fallacious. However, the quotations might as well reveal the Xueheng scholars’ misunderstanding of the New Culture School led by Hu Shi and the entire modern Chinese culture. It is true that Hu Shi and his colleagues had a partial understanding of Western culture and were subjective in terms of making their choice of Western culture for introduction. That can be said of the Xueheng scholars as well. Neither school was able to gain a thorough and complete understanding of Western culture. Even though the Xueheng scholars in general outshined Hu Shi and his colleagues in their mastery of the knowledge of both Chinese and Western culture, their limitations were also obvious. They were more academic in a strict sense of the term, but they could not be the “judges” of academic significance and value of all research in humanities in China, as the Chinese name of their journal, Xueheng, implies (Xue means academic studies, and heng a 152 6 NOTHING BUT CULTURE: THE PEN WAR BETWEEN HU SHI... Chinese weighing scale). Upset by the Xueheng scholars’ arrogance and a lack of self-knowing, Lu Xun in his “An Annotation of Xueheng” likened the journal to “the fake shimmer in a fake antique shop” because “even if their weighing scale doesn’t have marks ready, they try to weigh the value of other’s works” (377). In terms of the excessive assertiveness and the lack of self-recognition of the Xueheng School, Lu Xun’s sneering comment was timely and appropriate, and it served as a morning call for the school’s realization that its pride in its knowledge of even Chinese culture was not firmly grounded. Despite their limitations, the Xueheng scholars played a crucial role in the history of modern Chinese culture. According to contemporary scholar Kuang Xinian, they Worked diligently to seek order and stability, call for seeking truth and believing in the absolute in the mist of radical social changes and chaos incurred by the void of values as the consequence of the collapse of tradition and the disruption in history. They promoted for the reconstruction of values and faith wherein the Chinese people and themselves could place their spirit. Discontent with the definition of modern Chinese culture as proposed by the New Culture School, they fervently defended the validity and legality of tradition so as to bridge up the traditional with the modern and to alleviate the tension between the present and the past. Their ultimate objective was to transact a smooth transition from the traditional to the modern. (187–188) In fact, many similarities are found between the Xueheng School and New Culture School. Mei Guangdi admitted, “Who doesn’t know the need of constructing a new culture?” (“Proponents” 76) Another Xueheng scholar, Liu Boming, acknowledged that the New Culture Movement, “although imperfect, is definitely a memorable event in history. A nation like ours with a deep civilization and ingrained in traditional customs, is bound to go through tense upheavals before becoming transformed into a nation with a new culture. Skipping chaos for cultural transformation is unimaginable” (110). Moreover, the Xueheng School didn’t completely deny the value and significance of the New Culture Movement. In fact, it also called for learning from the West, constructing a modern culture and a literary reform, although it differed from the New Culture School in strategies and ways of implementation. For instance, the New Culture School focused on innovation, creativity, WORKS CITED 153 and reform, whereas the Xueheng School called for building a new Chinese culture which would be too idealistic to be feasible. Liu Yizhi summarizes its primary cultural strategies as “to introduce the real European and American culture and to enhance the real culture of our country” (869). Why real? Because, according to Wu Mi, “the real culture from the West and the quintessential culture of ours actually enlighten each other…” (“On the New Culture Movement” 82). It might have been insightful in theory and argument, and lofty in vision, but it was impractical. It was impossible for even the Xueheng scholars to determine what real Western culture was. The Xueheng School frequently criticized Hu Shi for his efforts to introduce Western culture to China and for his superficial understanding of that culture. However, it was impossible for Hu Shi to introduce a more authentic version of Western culture as the Xueheng School advocated. In fact, what he introduced into China was a Western culture marked with his own consciousness, just as the Chinese classics that Hu Shi promoted were penetrated with Western spirit. What Hu Shi did was what China really needed at the time, as the interactive process between Western culture and traditional Chinese culture gradually gave shape to modern Chinese culture, a culture enlivened with creative spirit, national characteristics, and modern spirit, and, most importantly, a culture that could never have been imagined by the Xueheng School. History stood by Hu Shi and his New Culture School. Works Cited Chen Duxiu. (1991). A Reply to the Swordsmen (Confucianism). In Selected Works of Chen Duxiu (Vol. 1). Shanghai: Shanghai People’s Publishing House. Chen Duxiu. (1995). Reasons for Starting Anhui Colloquialism Newspaper. In Sun Shangyang & Guo Lanfang (Eds.), “Foreword to The Critical Review.” New Knowledge on National Cultural Heritage: Selected Essays from the Xueheng School (Vol. 1). Beijing: China Radio and TV Publishing Press, No Specific Author. Chen Duxiu. A Vindication of The New Youth. Vol. 1. Chen Duxiu. On the Differences between Chinese and the Westerners in Regard to Their Thought. Vol. 1. Gao Like. (1992). The Tension between History and Value: Review of Modern Chinese Thought. Guiyang: Guizhou People’s Publishing House. Hu Shi. After Word to Issue 142 of The Independent Review. In Collected Works of Hu Shi (Vol. 11). Hu Shi. A Brief History of New Chinese Literature. Vol. 1. 154 6 NOTHING BUT CULTURE: THE PEN WAR BETWEEN HU SHI... Hu Shi. Again, Zhang Shizhao Rebels. Vol. 10. Hu Shi. (1994a). Diaries of Hu Shi: Studying Abroad. Haikou: Hainan International News Publishing Center. Hu Shi. (1994b). Foreword. In Diaries of Hu Shi: Studying Abroad. Haikou: Hainan International News Publishing Center. Hu Shi. Hu Shi’s Posthumous Manuscript and Secret Letters (Ed. Geng Yunzhi, Vol. 33). Anhui: Huangshan Press, 1994c. Hu Shi. Forced to Join the Liangshan Rebels. In Collected Works of Hu Shi (Vol. 1). Hu Shi. The History of baihua Literature. Vol. 8. Hu Shi. Introduction. In A Brief History of New Chinese Literature (Vol. 1). Hu Shi. Introduction to My Own Thought. Vol. 5. Hu Shi. Me at Forty: In Shanghai. Vol. 1. Hu Shi. On Building up a Literary Revolution. Vol. 2. Hu Shi. On the Historical Concept of Literature. Vol. 2. Hu Shi. On New Poetry (A Great Event in the Past Eight Years). Vol. 2. Hu Shi. Reasons for Promoting Baihua. Vol. 12. Hu Shi. Reply to Qian Tongshu. Vol. 2. Kuang Xinian. (1998). Modern Chinese Literature and Modernity. Shanghai: Shanghai Far East Publishing House. Li Yi. (1998). Review of the Xueheng School and the May Fourth New Literature Movement. Social Sciences in China, 6, 150–164. Li Zehou. (1994). A Theoretical History of Modern Chinese Thought. Hefei: Anhui Literature and Art Press. Lin Shu. (1996). On Reasons Why wenyan Should Not Be Abandoned. In Collected Letters of Hu Shi (Vol. 1). Beijing: Peking UP. Liu Boming. (1995). The Spirit of the People of the Republic of China. In Sun Shangyang & Guo Lanfang (Eds.), New Knowledge on National Cultural Heritage: Selected Essays from the Xueheng School. Beijing: China Radio and TV Publishing House. Liu Yizheng. (1988). A History of Chinese Culture (Vol. 2). Shanghai: East Publishing Center. Lu Xun. An Annotation of Xueheng. In The Complete Works of Lu Xun (Vol. 1). Lu Xun. Silent China. In The Complete Works of Lu Xun (Vol. 4). Mei Guangdi. (1994). A Letter to Hu Shi. In Geng Zhiyun (Ed.), Posthumous Works of Hu Shi and His Received Letters. Hefei: Huangshan Publishing House. Mei Guangdi. (1995). On the Proposal for Today’s Academic Methods. In Sun Shangyang & Guo Lanfang (Eds.), New Knowledge on National Cultural Heritage: Selected Essays from the Xueheng School. Beijing: China Radio and TV Publishing House. Mei Guangdi. On the Proposal for Today’s Academic Methods. Ibid. Shao Zuping. (1995). On New and Old Ethics and Their Relation with Literature. In Sun Shangyang & Guo Lanfang (Eds.), New Knowledge on National WORKS CITED 155 Cultural Heritage: Selected Essays from the Xueheng School. Beijing: China Radio and TV Publishing House. Shen Weiwei. (1999). Looking Back at the Xueheng School: The Modern Destiny of Cultural Conservatism. Beijing: People’s Literature Publishing Press. Sun Shangyang. (1995). Between the Enlightenment and Academia: Reevaluation of the Xueheng School. In Sun Shangyang & Guo Lanfang (Eds.), New Knowledge on National Cultural Heritage: Selected Essays from the Xueheng School. Beijing: China Radio and TV Publishing Press. Tang Yongtong. (1995). On the Contemporary Studies of Culture. In Sun Shangyang & Guo Lanfang (Eds.), New Knowledge on National Cultural Heritage: Selected Essays from the Xueheng School. Beijing: China Radio and TV Publishing Press. Tong, T. (1998). An Autobiography: As Told by Hu Shih. In Ouyang Zhesheng (Ed.), Collected Works of Hu Shi (Vol. 1). Beijing: Beijing UP. Tong, T. (1999). Random Memories of Hu Shi. Shanghai: East China Normal UP. Wang Guowei. (1997). On the Creation of New Terms. In Selected Works of Wang Guowei (Vol. 3). Beijing: Yanshan Publishing House. Wu Mi. (1927, September 22). The Value of Confucius and the Essence of Confucianism. Ta Kung Pao. Wu Mi. (1995). On the New Culture Movement. In Sun Shangyang & Guo Lanfang (Eds.), New Knowledge on National Cultural Heritage: Selected Essays from the Xueheng School. Beijing: China Radio and TV Publishing Press. Xu Youyu. (1994). Copernicus Revolution: Linguistic Turn of Philosophy. Shanghai: SDX Joint Publishing Company. Yu Sheng. (1998). Modern Literature and Its Modernity. Shanghai: Far East Publishing House. Zheng Zhenduo. (1936). Introduction. In Anthology of New Chinese Literature: Literary Debates. Shanghai: Liangyou Book Company. Zhou Zuoren. (1998). Suggestions for Reforming the National Language. In The Realm of Reading at Night. Changsha: Hunan Literature and Art Press.