Hu Shih

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Hu Shih

(ho͞o shŭr), 1891–1962, Chinese philosopher and essayist, leading liberal intellectual in the May Fourth MovementMay Fourth Movement
(1919), first mass movement in modern Chinese history. On May 4, about 5,000 university students in Beijing protested the Versailles Conference (Apr. 28, 1919) awarding Japan the former German leasehold of Kiaochow (Jiaozhou), Shandong prov.
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 (1917–23). He studied under John Dewey at Columbia Univ., becoming a lifelong advocate of pragmatic evolutionary change. While professor of philosophy at Beijing Univ., he wrote for the iconoclastic journal New Youth (see Chen DuxiuChen Duxiu
or Ch'en Tu-hsiu
, 1879–1942, Chinese educator and Communist party leader. He was active in the republican revolution of 1911 and was forced to flee to Japan after taking part in the abortive "second revolution" of 1913 against Yüan Shih-kai.
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). His most important contribution was promotion of vernacular literature to replace writing in the classical style. Hu Shih was also a leading critic and analyst of traditional Chinese culture and thought. He was ambassador to the United States (1938–42), chancellor of Beijing Univ. (1946–48), and after 1958 president of the Academia Sinica in Taiwan.


See J. B. Grieder, Hu Shih and the Chinese Renaissance (1970).

Hu Shih


(also Hu Shih-chih). Born Dec. 17, 1891, in Shanghai; died Feb. 24, 1962, in Taipei. Chinese writer, scholar, and political figure.

Hu studied in the USA, receiving a Ph.D. from Columbia University in 1917; he was an adherent of pragmatism. He taught at Peking National University from 1917 to 1927, from 1931 to 1937, and from 1945 to 1948. From 1938 to 1942 he was China’s ambassador to the USA, and from 1958 to 1962 he served as president of the Academia Sinica.

A champion of a “literary revolution,” Hu worked to establish a new literature in the vernacular (pai-hua); his approach was, however, formalistic and inconsistent. His literary works include the collection of poems A Book of Experiments (1920), the play A Life’s Work (1919), and translations of short stories by such writers as Guy de Maupassant and A. P. Chekhov. In the 1920’s Hu took part in the movement to “put the national past in order” and published A History of Literature in the National Language (1927) and the first volume of A History of Literature in Pai-hua (1928). From 1928 to 1932 he was a member of the literary group known as the New Crescent Society. He published scholarly works on the Chinese classical novel and subsequently ceased his literary activity.

In the mid-1950’s Hu’s methodology and scholarly theories were sharply criticized in the People’s Republic of China (PRC). After the formation of the PRC in 1949, he went to the USA and eventually took up residence in Taiwan. Hu was anticommunist and anti-Soviet.


Hu Shih wen-ts’un, series 1–4, vols. 1–14. Taipei, 1953.
The Chinese Renaissance. Chicago [1934].


Cherkasskii, L. E. Novaia kitaiskaia poesiia (20–30-egody). Moscow, 1972. Pages 25–58.
Hu Shih ssu-hsiang p’i-p’an, fases. 1–8. Peking, 1955–56.
Li Ao, Hu Shi p’ing-chuan. Taipei, 1964.
Grieder, J. B. Hu Shih and the Chinese Renaissance. Cambridge, Mass., 1970.


References in periodicals archive ?
Leafing through New Youth, the journal that started the New Culture Movement, and the articles by Hu Shi (1891-1962), the leader of the movement and China's ambassador to America during the Second World War, one can see a sharp contrast.
21) Here, "Chinese characters" refers to Chinese classical language, as opposed to the vernacular language promoted by Hu Shi and other modernists.
Their topics include a hermeneutic interpretation by Zhu Xi, Kaibara Ekiken and ethics from a cross-cultural perspective, the Mencius in the writings of Hu Shi, and contemporary studies of Mencius in Taiwan.