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Merry laughter and angry curses; the Shanghai tabloid press, 1897-1911.


Merry laughter and angry curses; the Shanghai tabloid press, 1897-1911.

Wang, Juan.

U. of British Columbia Press


232 pages



Contemporary Chinese studies


This first book by independent Chinese Studies scholar Juan Wang takes on an understudied subject: tabloid journalism in China. Prior to the 1890s, newspapers in the Western sense were basically unknown in China. By the 1911 revolution, they were everywhere. In a scholarly but very readable style, Wang traces the rise of Shanghai tabloids at the end of the Qing era, and how their blend of funny stories, gossip, underhanded critique, and sarcasm paved the way for the end of an empire. The author understands well that the voice of democracy in entrenched regimes is often hard-edged and scurrilous popular humor. The book is well structured to take the reader through both the historical evolution of the era and the colorful history of the Shanghai tabloids. In addition to strong scholarly endnotes and bibliography, there is a helpful glossary of names and terms in both Roman and Chinese characters. For readers accustomed to seeing the Chinese revolutionary era in terms of political fervor and dour Maoism, this book will be an enlightening surprise.

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Publication:Reference & Research Book News
Article Type:Book review
Date:Dec 1, 2012
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