Keats’s Afterlife in Twentieth-Century China

This paper puts together a trajectory of Keats’s reception in China from appropriation to oblivion and then to restoration in line with three distinctive moments in Chinese modern history. It explores the interaction between the original text and its foreign context, particularly complex in Keats’s case for his often misconceived image as an escapist aesthete who seemed much out of place in 20th China undergoing violent political and ideological changes. While this aestheticism confined Keats’s influence to a smaller circle than that of his more radical contemporaries such as Byron and Shelley, his less discursive and more ambiguous poetry also ensured its survival in a repressive political context and continued to appeal to different generations of Chinese readers with its deep sympathy for fellow human beings and honesty about the human condition.