|dc.description.abstract||This research is a comparative study on the works of Charles Dickens (1812-1870)
and Zhang Tianyi 張天翼 (1906-1985). The former was one of the greatest novelists
of the Victorian era; the latter, a Left-wing writer in Republican China. The study
analyses five short stories from Zhang’s corpus and compares his works with ten
novles of Dickens.
The study argues that Dickens is one among other writers that have parallels with
Zhang, through the exploration of several aspects of their works. At the beginning of
the twentieth century, Dickens’s novels were introduced to China by Lin Shu. Since
then, they have influenced a great number of Chinese scholars and writers.
First, considering the contents of Zhang’s short stories, I roughly categorise them
into five modes, respectively focusing on bureaucrats, villains, social climbers,
revolutionary propa-ganda and wartime intellectuals. One short story of each type is
analysed in detail. Second, this study explores both the similarities and the
discrepancies between Zhang and Dickens’s inner worlds and the projections of
those worlds within their texts. I find that the two authors have much in common in
their character portrayals, humour, language, children’s perspectives and focus on
social issues, whereas they differ considerably in what they hoped to achieve with
their works, partly due to their different social settings, and this in turn gives their
works very different qualities. Where Dickens believed in the goodness of human
nature and hoped for gradual reform, Zhang Tianyi was a proponent of radical
change and revolution.
This study expands the scope of the existing research on Zhang Tianyi, clarifies and
establishes important factors in Zhang’s literary development, and explores how
Zhang imitated Dickens’s artistic techniques and then creatively transformed them.
Moreover, this study provides new perspectives and deepens existing studies. This
investigation will thereby enable others to better understand Zhang’s literary works,
and will simultaneously help map Dickens’s influence outside Britain.||en