The introduction situates Lao She in relation to China's New Culture movement and the protest movements of May Fourth. It is 1928 and during the four years that Lao She has spent in London he has published two novels in China's prestigious Fiction Monthly (Xiaoshuo yuebao) and is working on a third, Mr Ma and Son: Two Chinese in London (Er Ma, 1929). Unlike the first two, with their nostalgically detailed evocations of life in Peking, this novel will be an indictment of British imperialist ideology and a Chinese wake-up call. Lao She came to work in London through the auspices of the London Missionary Society (LMS). This was the period seen as the apex of high modernism in Britain and Lao She's early fiction registers this interaction in ways that suggest we rethink his reputation beyond that of his proletarian classic, Rickshaw Boy (Luotuo Xiangzi, 1937). ReadingLao She as an incipient modernist, initiating in China new subject matter and new styles of writing in the endeavour to remake the sensibility of the Chinese people, serves to unsettle Eurocentric considerations of literary modernism as exclusively Western, its place of origin unquestionably the metropolitan West.
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