Introduction Ibsenism and Reinventions of Chinese Culture
The reception of Ibsen has never been a mere literary experience in China. It is actually a history of cultural politics, as well as a history of social change in China, in which one can see China’s incessant attempts in the pursuit of cultural modernity and in the reinvention of Chinese culture that involves redefinitions of the self, women, class and nation. It is also an event of global cultural flow, involving geographical and social dimensions of how the Ibsenian ideas of socio-moral revolution have been channeled to China through the mediation of Japanese, Anglo-American, Russian and Norwegian sources and caused a series of debates in the Chinese revolutions. In this process, one will see what countries and critics have served as agents in interpreting Ibsen for Chinese consumption. The migration of ideas is a complex phenomenon, in which the historical and geographical dimensions of “ideoscapes” have to be considered. As many scholars have pointed out, China’s interaction with the West is a double process involving both the socio-economic need to modernize China and China’s cultural need for modernity. There is a theory that most of the major cultural and political changes that occurred in China in the hundred years from the early 1820s to the 1920s were China’s response to Western challenges. While this is true, there is another theory which argues that China’s changes were due to its domestic needs for change.