Georg Brandes and the development of the Chinese lyrical tradition

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Georg Brandes (1842–1927) has had a significant influence on the development of the Chinese lyrical tradition since the beginning of the 20th century. During a panel on comparative literature at the Association for Asian Studies (AAS) in 1971, Chen Shih-Hsiang said that the “Chinese literary tradition as a whole is a lyrical tradition,” offering another perspective for interpreting the Chinese literary tradition. The Chinese lyrical tradition emphasizes expressing deep feelings (or embodying lyricism) in various art forms. When tracing the trajectory of the development of the Chinese lyrical tradition, one finds that Lu Xun’s “Moluo shi li shuo” (On the Power of Mara Poetry) (Mara Poetry) has had a profound impact on the formation of the lyrical tradition, which was proposed by Chen ShihHsiang in 1971, and has been consolidated by Chan K. K. Leonard since the 21st century. However, the important role that Brandes played in Lu Xun’s analysis in “Mara Poetry” has not received the attention it deserves. In fact, Lu Xun’s article is deeply indebted to Brandes’s Poland: A Study of the Land, People and Literature (Poland). In order to bridge this research gap, the aim of this paper is twofold. Firstly, it attempts to examine the degree to which Brandes helped develop the Chinese lyrical tradition by identifying his influence on Lu Xun. Secondly, it traces the development of the tradition by delineating both Chen’s and Chan’s contributions. Chen’s research helps highlight the characteristics of A. Mickiewicz’s poetry introduced by both Brandes and Lu Xun, which were considered the major characteristics of the Chinese lyrical tradition by Chen later on. Chan’s study further suggested that the characteristics embodied in Mickiewicz’s poetry can also be found in Lu Ji’s (261–303 AD) “Wen Fu” (Essay on Literature). Copyright © 2023 The Author.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)63-76
JournalAUC Philologica
Issue number1
Early online dateMay 2023
Publication statusPublished - 2023


Au, C. T. (2023). Georg Brandes and the development of the Chinese lyrical tradition. AUC Philologica, 2023(1), 63-76.


  • Georg Brandes
  • Lu Xun
  • Chen Shih-Hsiang
  • Chan K. K. Leonard
  • Chinese lyrical tradition


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