Innovative or Rather Traditional? Confucianising Tragedy in May Fourth China
A key aspect of the May Fourth Movement was the critical discussion of Western tragedy. While the interest in tragedy was sparked by the assumption that China lacked an analogous genre, its interpretation and adaptation to the Chinese context suggests that a traditional ‘indigenous’ filter was applied to define its supposed ‘modernity’. Through cross-comparing Chinese conceptions of beiju 悲剧 in the May Fourth era and traditional Chinese views of bei 悲, this paper will seek to show that the Chinese reception of tragedy was informed by the rejuvenation of traditional ideas rather than the introduction of purely ‘Western’ theories.