First published in 1968, this volume of essays, posthumously edited by the author’s brother Professor C. T. Hsia (a prominent Columbia University professor of Chinese literature), focuses on Chinese literary criticism relating to the work of leftist Chinese writers, including Lu Hsün, Chiang Kuang-tz’u, the “Five Martyrs,” and Chü Ch’iu-po, who were sympathetic to the ideals of the pre-1949 Chinese communist party. As one of the few foundational texts to provide a critical overview of the aesthetics and politics of China’s leftist literary movement, The Gate of Darkness examines the conflicting dilemmas between leftist authors’ own ideals and the strict ideological frameworks imposed by the propaganda policies of the Chinese communist party in the early twentieth century.
Hsia’s essays are exciting reading precisely because Mr. Hsia approached his subject not merely with the index-cards of a historian but also with the sensitive eyes of a novelist. Tsi-an Hsia is a creative and compassionate scholar who has opened Lu Hsün’s inner “gate of darkness” to unveil “a fascinating world of demons and ghosts as dramatized in village operas and popular superstitions.”
—Professor Lee Ou-fan, The Chinese University of Hong Kong
T. A. Hsia is one of the most important critics of modern Chinese literature. In The Gate of Darkness he seeks to examine the dynamics of Chinese leftist literature from an overarching perspective, and offers perceptive and profound observations. He looks into sources drawn from social, cultural and intellectual inquires, identifies literary and ideological contestations, and teases out polemical elements in the theory and practice of revolutionary politics, ethics, and aesthetics. Hsia’s book is an indispensable source for anyone interested in modern Chinese literature and cultural politics.
—Professor David Der-wei Wang, Harvard University