Changes in the Concept of “Literature” during the Early Years of the Japanese Colonization of Taiwan
關鍵字：文學概念、新學、謝雪漁（Hsieh Hsueh-Yu）、久保天隨（Kubo Tenzui）、文學史
The focus of this paper was to discuss the transformation in literary culture in Taiwan from traditional Confucianism to a contemporary literary style.
In Taiwan, the earliest discussion about the concept of literature appeared in the article “文學辨義” by Hsieh Hsueh-Yu in 1907. In this article, the definition of “literature” was described in both a general and a more specific manner. The author also introduced the concept of “pure literature,” and at the same time, held a more open attitude toward novels and Chinese operatic plays, which were typically ignored by traditional scholars. The purpose of this study was to identify the time period during which such discussions appeared in Taiwan. What societal and cultural changes occurred during the time that necessitated the adaptation to the new concept?
The fact that Hsieh Hsueh-Yu, who was commonly regarded as a traditional scholar, wrote the article in 1907 to promote the new concept demonstrated that such a concept was likely adopted in different educational classes. If such an understanding existed at the time, what caused the dispute between traditional and new literature in the years that followed? We attempted to develop an understanding of the formative process for the contemporary concept of literature in Taiwan by answering this question. We believe that the position held by the Japanese colonial rulers towards “Chinese classics” shook the authority of the traditional literary scholars of the period. In response to this change, the Taiwanese began to actively incorporate contemporary concepts in order to transform and improve the traditional definition of literature. In this process, they accepted and absorbed the new concepts as “civilized knowledge.” In the years that followed, the perception of “literature” was generally accepted as the co-existence of both the old and the new. Instead of a revolutionary process, the transformation of literary culture is better described as a rearrangement of knowledge. Such a conflict-free and encompassing view toward literature persisted until the later stages of Japanese colonization.
Keywords: The concept of literature, New study, Hsieh Hsueh-Yu, Kubo Tenzui, The history of literature