The Failure of the May Fourth Movement and My Two Struggles

Zaifu Liu, Yijiao Guo (Translator)

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


In this speech, Liu Zaifu thoroughly discusses the history of the May Fourth movement and the New Culture movement in the whole last century and the circumstances of humanity in China. In his explanation, May Fourth could be conceptualized through three different groups of concepts: the cultural May Fourth and the political May Fourth, the New Culture movement and the New Literature movement, and the masculine May Fourth and the feminine May Fourth. Liu regards the May Fourth spirit as a complete failure, in terms of six symbolic signs: (1) the mass spiritual suicide of Guo Moruo and the Creation Society, (2) the failure of humanity, (3) the elimination of individuality and personality, (4) the reversal of the enlightenment subject, (5) the devastation of the world vision, and (6) the failure of aesthetic practice. Liu also shares his two struggles. The first struggle in the 1980s was to reconstruct the subjectivity and dignity of people. After going abroad, he started the second struggle in exiling the gods, by which he endeavored to free himself from the four major spiritual chains: revolutionary thinking, the idolatry of nation, all the political ideologies, and dualistic thinking.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)127–142
JournalPrism: Theory and Modern Chinese Literature
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Mar 2020


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