Yu Jie


Yu Jie
b. 1963, Pujiang
Culture critic
Yu Jie represents himself as offering a critical, independent and marginal perspective on contemporary Chinese culture. He portrays his writing as ‘drawer literature’ (chuti wenxue), that is, written for self-reflection instead of for publication. His work has nevertheless become widely available in print after 1997, and appears in many different forms: maxims, reminiscences, book reviews, social and literary criticism. He writes in a highly personal, almost lyrical style, as if he were writing in an anti-academic way. In fact, Yu is quite critical of the recent professionalism in Chinese cultural criticism, and wants to restore the tradition associated with Lu Xun, Cai Yuanpei and the humanism of Peking University. His criticism is driven by a sense of the moral responsibility that he believes intellectuals should feel towards history.
For example, Yu’s best-known literary criticism is directed at Yu Qiuyu, a well-known writer of cultural/historical essays. In an article entitled ‘Yu Qiuyu, Why Don’t You Confess?’ (Yu Qiuyu, ni weihe bu chanhui?), Yu Jie takes issue with retrospective writings about the Cultural Revolution. He charges that such writing lacks self-reflection and recommends self-reflection as a tool to criticize cultural production. In Yu’s cultural criticism there is a tendency to de-contextualize Chinese culture. He compares the monolithic notion of ‘Chinese culture’ to the ideas of dissident writers such as the Czech playwright Vaclav Havel. Havel’s determined resistance to cultural totalitarianism is presented as a positive model that Yu believes the Chinese intelligentsia ought to follow.
Barmé, Geremie R. (1999). In the Red: On Contemporary Chinese Culture. New York: Columbia University Press, 351–4, 357, 361.
HE DONGHUI

Encyclopedia of contemporary Chinese culture. . 2011.

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