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Lao She in London$
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Anne Witchard

Print publication date: 2012

Print ISBN-13: 9789888139606

Published to Hong Kong Scholarship Online: January 2013

DOI: 10.5790/hongkong/9789888139606.001.0001

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Boxers and Bannermen: Peking 1900

Boxers and Bannermen: Peking 1900

(p.9) Chapter 1 Boxers and Bannermen: Peking 1900
Lao She in London

Anne Witchard

Hong Kong University Press

Born an impoverished ethnic Manchu in the declining days of the Qing dynasty, Lao She grew up at a time when anti-Manchu resentment from Han Chinese nationalists was rife. In the course of the 1911 Revolution thousands of Banner people fell victim to the xenophobia that had been a defining element of revolutionary rhetoric for a decade. Nevertheless Lao She was very much part of the May Fourth Movement and its brief flowering of utopian and cosmopolitan ideals. As a schoolmaster he was involved in the pedagogic applicationof diverse models of meaningful citizenship. The schools under his jurisdiction served as experimental workshops, testing a variety of borrowed foreign and retooled indigenous ideas and practices in order to educate the New China. This chapter outlines the place of Christian thinking among radical Chinese nationalists at this time in order to understand Lao She's attraction to the Christian Church, his practical involvement at grass-roots level in building the New China, and his move to London in 1924. It also accounts for the negative portrayals of missionary officials in his fiction which have led some readers to the erroneous conclusion that Lao She must have been a ‘rice Christian’.

Keywords:   Boxer Uprising, Manchu Bannermen, Eight Nation Allied Army, Hundred Days Reform Movement, Social Darwinism, Beneath the Red Banner, Hu Shi, New Youth (Xin qingnian), Xiao Qian

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