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Reviews 553 Maghiel van Crevel. Language Shattered: Contemporary Chinese Poetry and Duoduo. CNWS Publications No. 38. Leiden: Research School CNWS, 1996. x, 355 pp. Paperback Fl 40, isbn 90-7378252-x. Thesis edition, isbn 90-73782-51-1. Language Shattered: Contemporary Chinese Poetry and Duoduo is two books in one, as the subtitle suggests. Part 1 is a well-researched and finely written monograph on the development ofmodern Chinese poetry in the PRC since the 1950s and, at over one hundred pages, could stand on its own. Part 1 has the further distinction ofbeing the first in-depth study ofthe history ofunderground poetry in the PRC. Part 2 is a thorough and informative discussion ofthe oeuvre of one of China's most important contemporary experimental poets, Duoduo. Born in 1951, and affiliated with the Today magazine group ofpoets, Duoduo is nonetheless not the same kind of insider as Bei Dao or the late Gu Cheng. Originally less internationally renowned than most of the Today coterie, Duoduo became a celebrity almost overnight, due to a fortuitous coincidence: he left China on June 4, 1989, on a longplanned professional trip to the West. While exile has spread Duoduo's reputation , van Crevel demonstrates that he is deserving of our attention not merely as a "voice ofconscience" but as a poet whose work is ofexceptional caliber. "Part I: The Literary Surroundings" is a four-chapter history ofpoetry in the PRC that would be useful reading for any student ofmodern Chinese poetry and literary politics in the PRC. Van Crevel's survey ofpost-1949 trends in Chinese poetry evaluates works on their artistic merits as well as using them as a window on politics. After laying the groundwork with a discussion of the Orthodox (Party- and state-approved) poetry of the 1950s and 1960s in the first chapter, van Crevel turns in chapter 2 to the underground poetry scenes ofthe 1960s and 1970s, an area that has been little researched. In his discussion of the underground , he covers everything from the way in which manuscripts were circulated to the roles played by such key figures as the poet Guo Lusheng and the collector Zhao Yifan. This lucid and well-organized history is the most comprehensive English -language treatment of this period to date and is a valuable contribution to the field. Chapter 3, on experimental poetry, is a practical guide to the various schools and movements that have flourished in post-Mao China. Van Crevel outlines the more salient differences between Obscure poetry (Menglongshi, also translated as "Misty poetry") and Newborn poetry (Xinsheng dai shi), furtherĀ© 1997 by University teasing apart me subgeneric tangle ofthe latter: the Roots Searching School {Xungenpai ); Stream of Consciousness (Yishi Hu); and Stream of Life (Shenghuo Hu). While van Crevel briefly describes each subcategory and provides a list of the names ofimportant poets identified with each subcategory, he supplies an ex- 554 China Review International: Vol. 4, No. 2, Fall 1997 ample only ofStream of Life poetry. One or two samples of Stream of Consciousness and Roots Searching poetry would have lent more clarity to his descriptions, especially for readers not already familiar with the writers cited in the text. Still, van Crevel is good at identifying the ways in which certain Obscure poets have branched out (or segued) into new styles identified with various types ofNewborn poetry. Chapter 4 is a brief (six-page) biography of Duoduo, which includes publication history. As other scholars of PRC literature have done before him, van Crevel gives an account of the often destructive influence of politics and the Communist Party on literature, with due reference to Mao's talks at the Yanan Forum of 1942. He makes no secret of his disapproval of the Party's omnipresence in literary and artistic affairs, but his opinions are well-supported in the text and do not detract at all from his scholarship. Indeed, van Crevel's forthright manner is refreshing. His treatment of recent PRC history and literary controversies is impressively detailed and well-researched, and his extensive contacts with Chinese writers and intellectuals have greatly enriched this study. "Part II: Duoduo's Poetry" takes up roughly the last two-thirds of the...


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