Brother Novelists: Zhan Xi, Zhan Kai, and the Shape of Late-Qing Fiction


American Research in the Humanities in China


East Asian Languages and Literatures


Fudan University


I examine the work of two brothers, both of whom wrote fiction in the rapidly evolving climate of late Qing China (1880-1911). As the imperial order began to fall, the brothers' fictions and other writings offered complementary but contrasting visions of how to keep Chinese essentials yet make best use of western ideas. Similarly, their careers combined stints in Shanghai and their remote home town of Quzhou, but in different proportions, the younger one opting for Shanghai, the older returning home for good after some years spent away. Finally, both were interested in education, but in one case only as a theme for literary exploration, in the other as a practitioner in the field.