Hu Shi (Hu Shih) 1891-1962

Hu Shi is known first and foremost as the promoter of vernacular Chinese (baihua) as the modern literary language. He studied at Cornell University and gained a Ph.D. from Columbia University. Shortly before his return to China in 1917 he published the article 'Suggestions for Reform in Literature' 文學改良芻議 in the magazine Xin qingnian 新青年 [New youth], thus sparking off a debate that was to change the course of Chinese literature. The promotion of baihua became a part of the May Fourth Movement (1919) which brought about dramatic changes in literary as well as social norms. Hu Shi was a major public intellectual in Republican China whose interest in the development of Chinese culture put him in frequent contact with government and political circles, though his relationship with high officials was never an easy one. He served as China's ambassador to the US (1938–1942) during the difficult years of the Anti-Japanese War, and was appointed President of Peking University in 1946. After the Chinese Communist Party's victory in 1949, Hu resided in the US until 1957, when he accepted the headship of the Academia Sinica in Taiwan where he lived for the rest of his life.

Works available in English:

  • China's own critics: a selection of essays (John P. Chang). New York: Paragon Book Reprint Corp., 1969.
  • Two self-portraits: Liang Ch'i-ch'ao and Hu Shih (Li Yu-ning and William A. Wycoff). Bronxvill, N.Y.: Outer
       Sky Press, 1992.

    Studies and Biographies:

  • Shu-lun Wei, A study of Hu Shih's rhetorical discourses on the Chinese literary revolution: 1915-20.
       Ann Arbor, Mich: UMI, 1985.
  • Min-chih Chou, Hu Shih and intellectual choice in modern China. Ann Arbor: UMI, 1984.
  • Jerome B. Grieder, Hu Shih and the Chinese renaissance; liberalism in the Chinese revolution, 1917-1937.
       Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1970.