C. T. Hsia

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Chih-tsing "C. T." Hsia
Born (1921-02-18)February 18, 1921
Pudong, Shanghai, China
Died December 29, 2013(2013-12-29) (aged 92)
Manhattan, New York, U.S.
Alma mater University of Shanghai
Yale University
C. T. Hsia
Chinese 夏志清

Hsia Chih-tsing or C. T. Hsia (February 18, 1921 – December 29, 2013) was a Chinese literary critic and scholar. He was born in Pudong, Shanghai. Hsia graduated from the now-defunct University of Shanghai. In September 1946, he followed his older brother, T. A. Hsia zh:夏濟安 (1916-1965) to Peking University to accept the position of teaching assistant and continued to study Western literature. His thesis on William Blake won him a scholarship to Yale University. He moved to the United States in 1947, and was awarded a Ph.D. from Yale University in 1951. Hsia then went on to teach at the Huston-Tillotson College, Austin, Texas, 1956–57, the State University of New York, Potsdam, New York 1957-61, and the University of Pittsburgh 1961-62. He joined Columbia University in 1961 as professor of Chinese Literature, the successor to Chinese translator Chi-Chen Wang (zh:王際真 1899-2001). He held this position until his retirement in 1991, when he became Professor Emeritus.

A History of Modern Chinese Fiction[edit]

Hsia's A History of Modern Chinese Fiction (Yale University Press, 1961), is credited with introducing the West to the literary movements of mainland China of the 1930s and 1940s and evaluating them with contemporary literary theory. Hsia was thus considered a pioneer in this aspect, and the book has been reprinted several times. Hsia's treatment established the reputations of several writers such as Qian Zhongshu, Eileen Chang and Shen Congwen.

A History Of Modern Chinese Fiction also provoked criticism. For example, the Czech critic Jaroslav Prusek denounced Hsia's research and writing as "unscientific" due to his unfavorable view of Lu Xun.[1]

The Classic Chinese Novel (1968)[edit]

The Classic Chinese Novel, first published in 1968 and reprinted several times, is an introduction for Western readers to the six novels of the Ming and Qing dynasties which Hsia considered to be of highest value: Romance of the Three Kingdoms; Water Margin; Journey to the West; Jin Ping Mei (Golden Lotus); The Scholars; and Dream of the Red Chamber.

The critic Andrew H. Plaks says that the term "six classic novels" (gudian xiaoshuo) as a "neologism of twentieth century scholarship, seems to have come into common use under the influence of C. T. Hsia's Classic Chinese Novel, a view now reflected in a wide variety of critical writings." [2]

Characteristics of Hsia's Criticism[edit]

The introduction to the third edition of Hsia's A History of Modern Chinese Fiction by David Der-Wei Wang[3] offers several suggestions for interpreting Hsia's approach to literary criticism. In the case of A History of Modern Chinese Fiction, Wang argues that this voluminous work remains relevant although it is much less theory-laden than its counterparts for Western literary texts.[4] Wang observes that Hsia's literary history was controversial in Mainland China due to its perceived hostility to leftist literature.[5] Nevertheless, Hsia's work, according to Wang, avoids being "reflectionist" or "moralist."[6]

Later years[edit]

In 2006, Hsia was inducted into the Academia Sinica at the age of 85, rendering him the oldest person ever to receive this appointment. Hsia joked about this experience, saying that he felt like "a new bride".[7][8]

Hsia died in New York City on December 29, 2013 at the age of 92.[9][10]

A funeral service for him took place on Jan. 18, 2014.[11][12]


  1. ^ Hsia's reply is reprinted in C.T. Hsia on Chinese Literature (2004)
  2. ^ Andrew H. Plaks, The Four Masterworks of the Ming Novel: Ssu Ta Ch'i-Shu (Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 1987), p. 4
  3. ^ C T Hsia 1999, A History of Modern Chinese Fiction; Third Edition: p. vii to xxxv.
  4. ^ C T Hsia op. cit., p. vii.
  5. ^ C T Hsia op. cit., p.ix.
  6. ^ C T Hsia op. cit., xiv.
  7. ^ Lee, Coral; Scott Williams (August 2006). "Academica Sinica Meeting Focuses on Academic Competitiveness". Taiwan Panorama. p. 50. Retrieved 2008-02-17. 
  8. ^ 夏志清:中国文人应酬太多. Xinhua News (in Chinese). 2007-01-17. Retrieved 2008-02-17. 
  9. ^ "Renowned literary critic Hsia Chih-tsing dies at 92". WantChinaTimes.com. 2014-01-01. Retrieved 2014-01-01. 
  10. ^ https://www.nytimes.com/2014/01/09/books/c-t-hsia-scholar-of-chinese-literature-dies-at-92.html?hpw&rref=arts
  11. ^ http://www.worldjournal.com/view/full_news_14/24415314/article-%E5%A4%8F%E5%BF%97%E6%B8%85%E8%BF%BD%E6%80%9D%E6%9C%83-%E7%B7%AC%E6%87%B7%E6%96%87%E5%AD%B8-%E7%9B%B4-%E6%89%B9%E8%A9%95%E5%AE%97%E5%B8%AB?
  12. ^ http://www.worldjournal.com/view/full_news_14/24415876/article-%E6%96%87%E5%AD%B8%E6%89%B9%E8%A9%95%E5%AE%97%E5%B8%AB-%E5%A4%8F%E5%BF%97%E6%B8%85%E8%BF%BD%E6%80%9D%E6%9C%83?instance=nyhot

Selected works[edit]

  • Hsia, Chi-tsing (1921-2013) WorldCat Authority Page.
  • —— (1961). A History of Modern Chinese Fiction, 1917-1957. New Haven,: Yale University Press. ISBN 0300014627. 
  • —— (1968). The Classic Chinese Novel: A Critical Introduction. Companions to Asian Studies. reprinted 1980; 1996. New York: Columbia University Press. 
  • —— (2004). C.T. Hsia on Chinese Literature. Masters of Chinese studies v 1. New York: Columbia University Press. ISBN 0231503474.  Reprints Hsia's major articles: Classical Chinese literature: its reception today as a product of traditional culture—Chinese novels and American critics : reflections on structure, tradition, and satire—On the "scientific" study of modern Chinese literature: a reply to Professor Prů̊̊šek—An introduction to the Romance of the Western Chamber—Time and the human condition in the plays of T'ang Hsien-tsu—The military romance : a genre of Chinese fiction—Archetype and allegory in the Dream of the red chamber: a critique—The scholar-novelist and Chinese culture : a reappraisal of Ching-hua yuan—Yen Fu and Liang Ch'i-ch'ao as advocates of new fiction—The Travels of Lao Ts'an: an exploration of its art and meaning—Hsü Chen-ya's Yü-li hun: an essay in literary history and criticism—Introduction to Modern Chinese stories and novellas, 1919-1949—The Korchin banner plains: a biographical and critical study—Residual femininity: women in Chinese communist fiction—Foreword to Chinese stories from Taiwan: 1960-1970—Black tears: an introduction to Peng Ko's stories.