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Fiction Synopsis

After long years of development, Chinese fiction began to take shapeduring the period of the Wei, Jin and Northern and Southern Dynasties. Fiction created during this period falls into two categories: "Supernatural fiction" and "anecdotal fiction." During the periods of Wei and Jin, religious and superstitious thoughtprevailed in society, leading to the emergence of stories about spirits. Alarge number of works about strange and mysterious events were writtenat the time. The extant supernatural fiction includes more than 30 works,of which, Records of Spirits by Gan Bao represents the highestachievement of the genre at that time. Most earlier supernatural fiction consisted of only sketchy outlines.The purpose of writing supernatural fiction was to argue for the certainexistence of heaven and hell. Some fiction of this period had alreadytaken on the shape of short stories, for example "The Sword-Maker" inRecords of Spirits told a thrilling story in short length.

During the period of Wei Jin and the Northern and SouthernDynasties, social commentary became common, leading to the rise of"anecdotal fiction," which were literary works telling interesting storiesabout people. New Anecdotes of Social Talk compiled by Liu Yiqing (AD403-444) belonged to this category and has been well preserved. Itepitomized the achievements that "anecdotal fiction" made in its earlystages". New Anecdotes of Social Talk devoted most of its pages to describingthe "unconventional" ways of scholars at the time. Some stories in thebook recorded the Sima family's despotism and other rich and powerfulfamilies' decadent indulgences in the Jin period. Other stories eulogizedcharitable persons and their beneficence. The novel was very successful.its artistic achievements could be summarized as: skillful portrayal ofcharacters' personalities through distinctive details, flawless blending ofdialogue with storytelling, and concise and subtle language. NewAnecdotes of Social Talk became the rudimentary text for Chinese literarysketches and had a far-reaching influence on later developments inChinese literature. Many stories in the book were used as sourcematerial by later writers. Chinese fiction went through marked transformations in the Tang Dynasty. Although the subject matter was still about spirits and social anecdotes ,compared with fiction created in the period of the Wei,Jin and the Northern and SouthernDynasties, the plots became more intricate and complex, the characters more distinctive, the language more ornate, and the structure more expanded. Fiction of the Tang Dynasty was called "prose romances."The emergence of "prose romances" in Tang Dynasty marked the maturity of the Chinese short story, because they went beyond merely recording anecdotes and became consciously creative literary works by scholars. "Prose romances" of the Tang Dynasty fell into three categories:

First, supernatural stories, which drew their subject matter fromliterary sketches. Famous works include "The Story of the Pillow" byshen Jiji, and "The Governor of the Southern Tributary State" by LiGongzuo. The two stories ridiculed feudal scholars obsessed with fameand riches.

Second, love stories, which were the most valuable of the "proseromances" of the Tang Dynasty. Famous works include "The Story of ASingsong Girl," "The Story of Yingying," "Prince Huo's Daughter," "Ren,the Fox Fairy," and "The Story of Liu Yi." These stories praised faithfullove and criticized the oppression of women by feudal ethics andcustoms. As well, they successfully portrayed a series of womencharacters who fought bravely for happy marriage.

"The Story of A Singsong Girl" describes the love between theprostitute Li Wa and Gongzi zhi, a nobleman from Xingyang. By givingthe story of the two lovers a happy ending, the novel condemned theidea of "two families must match in social status" and expressedappreciation for true love between men and women. The plot of thenovel was complex and the characters well rounded in their portrayal.

"The Story of Liu Yi" tells of a romance between Liu Yi, a failedscholar, and Dragon Girl of Dongting Lake. Liu Yi helps Dragon Girlextricate herself from an unhappy marriage, and after a series ofcomplications, the two end up getting married. Wonderful characterizations are the most successful part of this novel. Liu Yi's honesty, Dragon Girl's deep feelings and the explosive character of Qiantangjun are vividly depicted. The novel's adept way of contrasting reality with illusion exerted great influence on literature in later periods. Third, heroic fiction, describes the courageous deeds of swordsmenin punishing villains. The representative works include "The Red ThreadMaid" and "The Story of Xie Xiao'e."

"Prose romances" of the Tang Dynasty surpassed the fictioncreated by predecessors not only in its subject matter and ideas butalso in artistic achievement. Many "prose romances" described aperiod or the whole life experience of a character in order to revealhis or her personality and development of thought. The "prose romance"of the Tang Dynasty was the beginning of the Chinese-style novel. Thoughrelatively short in length, it began to take on the profile of a full-lengthnovel.

"Storytelling scripts," which first appeared during the Song and Yuandynasties, brought the Chinese novel to a new stage. Storytelling was akind of folk art during the Song Dynasty. It had four forms: "small talk"(xiao shuo i.e. what novels and short stories are now called), "history-telling', (tales from history), "scripture-telling" (tales from Buddhistscriptures), and hesheng or shuo hunhua (improptu verse). "History-telling" narrated the rise and fall of successive dynastiesand famous wars. Historical romances which emerged later originatedfrom this form. "Scripture-telling" described Buddhist stories. "Small talk" was the most influential form of storytelling, and mainlywere myths, and love and heroic stories. They were usually short inlength, with animated plots, and therefore were very popular with readers.

The extant scripts of "small talk" are mostly love stories and legalcases. "The Jade Worker" and "Zhou ShengXian's Romance at Fanlou"are representative love stories, which reflected the lives of commonpeople, especially women's resistance to feudal morality Fiction on legalcases are represented by "Killing Cui Ning by Mistake" and "Song SigongMakes Troubles with Councilor Zhang." The two works disclosed thedark inside stories of feudal government while praising people's fightingspirit.

"Storytelling scripts" of the Song and Yuan dynasties were furtherdeveloped compared with previous works. First, in order to attractaudiences, storytellers introduced much use of suspense in the story'splot and structure. Second, storytellers began to depict characters withtypical details, for example - character's mental activity, dialogue andbehavior would be in accord with the specific situation. And the dialoguein scripts became more dramatic and better revealed a character'spersonality.

Vernacular and lively language began to be used extensively in literaryworks starting from "storytelling scripts" of the Song and Yuan dynasties,bringing the development of Chinese literary language to a new stage.

The realistic techniques used in plot and characterization in scripts alsoachieved much progress compared with earlier fiction.

In the Ming Dynasty, with developments in politics, society, economyand philosophy, and the growth of printing, fiction was further developedon the foundation of its past achievements. A wealth of short storiesand novels thus emerged. At the end of the Yuan Dynasty and the beginning of the MingDynasty, a batch of full-length "Zhanghui (chaptered) novels"(a type of traditional Chinese novel with each chapterheaded by a couplet giving the gist of its contents) were created based on "history- telling" from the Song and Yuan dynasties, as represented by The Romance of the Three Kingdoms, The Romance of the Five Dynasties, Sorcerer's Revolt and its Suppression, and Outlaws of the Marsh. The Zhanghui novel was the only full-length-novel form of Chineseclassical fiction. Although its characters and plots were derived fromhistory, it did not restrict itself to historical facts. It was longer in length than most history books and covered more in its contents, which wasdivided into different volumes, with each volume again divided intodifferent chapters with introductory couplets. The Romance of the ThreeKingdoms was the earliest Zhanghui novel. From then on a large numberof historical novels were created, including The Romance of Genesisand The Romance of the Qing Palace.

The development of the Chinese novel was even greater after themiddle of the Ming Dynasty. Journey to the West and Jin Ping Mei (TheGolden Lotus) represented the pinnacle of novels created during thisperiod. Historic romances and sagas were also created in large numbersduring this period, including The New Fictionalized History of the States,The Romance of the Northern Song Dynasty The Romance of Ming Dynasty Heroes and The Surviving Writings of the Sui Dynasty.

After Journey to the West was published, mythological novelsbecame the rage, of which Canonization of the Gods was one of themost successful. The novel was based on the historic story of King Wu'sCampaign against Zhou, with the author also incorporating a great dealof folk tales along with aspects of his own imagination. The main purposeof the novel was to make barbed allusions satirizing social reality. The publication of "storytelling scripts" in large numbers attractedgreat attention from scholars, who turned from merely editing andpolishing the scripts to themselves writing them through imitation -thus emerged the so-called "imitation scripts." Feng Menglong's Wordst Instruct, Words to Warn and Words to Awaken ("Three Words"),written based on Song and Yuan dynasties scripts and Ming Dynasty"imitation scripts," and Ling Mengchu's Amazing Tales 1 & 11 are "imitationscripts" representing the finest of the short stories of the Ming Dynasty.

Each of Feng Menglong's (1574-1646) "Three Words" contained 40 short stories with subject matter falling into three categories:

(1) Women's pursuit of true love and happiness: including "TheCourtesan's Jewel Box," "The Oil Vendor and the Courtesan," and"Yutangchun Find Her Love in Adversity" These stories praise true love,denounce fickleness and call for mutual respect between men and women.

(2) The internal struggles of the ruling class: including "Shen XiaoxiaRedresses His Father's injustice," which describes the conflict betweenShen Lian and the Yan Song family; and "old Scholar Meets FlowerGoddess in the Evening," which tells a story about a bullied peasantpunishing his tormentors with the help of a flower goddess.

(3) Extolling true friendship while condemning perfidious behavior.Representative works include "Shi Runze Makes True Friends inDifficulty" and "Gui, the Supernumerary official Makes a Confessionat the End of His Rope." Compared with storytelling scripts, the subjectmatter in "Three Words" was more concentrated, the plot more intricateand the description of character's psychological workings more detailedand exquisite. But the conflicts in Feng's stories were not very sharp andthe language not dramatic.

Ling Mengchu's (1580-1644) two volumes of Amazing Tales contained78 stories. Most of these tales were based on previously published works.The development of trade and the seeds of capitalism, which emergedduring the middle and late period of the Ming Dynasty, were reflected inhis stories. For example, "Lucky Man Makes A Fortune Out of 'Dongtinghong' Oranges" and "Cheng's Salvation by the Goddess of the Sea" described the moneymaking adventures of some Chinese merchants overseas. The love story "Beautiful Women Play Swing atXuanhuiyuan" and legal case story "Pilgrim Reads Vajracchedika-Sutra" were also very well written. However, some tales were filled wit pornographic and superstitious description, and even falsified a peasant uprising, which greatly impaired his works' value.

In the Qing Dynasty, The Strange Tales of Liaozhai pushed classicalChinese fiction to new heights. The writing of full-length novels writtenin vernacular Chinese also made great strides during this period, asrepresented by A Dream of Red Mansions and Outlaws of the Marsh.

In the early Qing Dynasty, saga novels prevailed. Chen Chen's Sequelto Outlaws of the Marsh described stories of the 32 surviving heroesfrom Liangshan. They rose up again to defend the country againstoverseas invaders and then went out to start doing business in a foreigncountry. The characters in this novel were drawn from Outlaws of theMarsh, further developed in new settings. The novel, while successful in capturing the spirit of rebellion against the government, still revolved around the subject of patriotism.

The Complete Story of Yue Fei was written by Qian Cai and Jin Feng based on all kinds of legends about Yue Fei. Yue Fei was the major character in the novel. He was a national hero and patriotic general, but he was, at the same time, stubbornly loyal to the incompetent government. Negative characters such as Wu Zhu and the Qin Hui couple were also vividly portrayed. Feudal society was in a gradual decline in the late Ming and early Qing dynasties. Discussions about love, marriage and codes of ethics were the major subjects in fiction of this period. The Marriage that Awakes the Worldbelonged to this category. It described the entanglement of marriages between two families engaged in a blood feud. The novel vividly portrayed a host of characters from different social classes, profoundly revealing the seamyside of social reality and acutely reflecting the rise of mercantile forcesat the end of feudal society. This was a long novel of more than 1 millionChinese characters.

Flowers in the Mirror was a marvelous, illuminating Qing-Dynastynovel. The classic is a fairy tale of a hundred chapters. The goddess offlowers committed a blunder and was exiled to the earthly world in theincarnation of Tang Ao's daughter, Xiaoshan. Tang Ao failed the imperialexamination and went traveling across the seas. After having visited manystrange lands and encountered many bizarre experiences, he made uphis mind to retire in seclusion. Xiaoshan went in search of her fatherand found the "Book of Heaven" by accident. Guided by the book shewas able to regain her fairy form. The author projected his own idea of aperfect society into the vividly described imaginary world in the novel.

Classical novels began to decline at the end of the Qing Dynasty.Main works of this period included Three Heroes and Five Gallants, TheFive Younger Gallants, A Dream of the Green Chamber and Lives ofShanghai Singsong Girls. The Suppression of the Rebels was a reactionarynovel of that time. With the strong development of Reform Movements, the voices ofreforming literature grew louder. Exposure novels, represented by LiBoyuan's (1867-1906) The Bureaucrat: A Revelation and Wu Yanren's(1866-1910) Strange Events for the Last Twenty Years, deliberately choseo focus on reformism and expose the corruption of the governmentand the crimes committed by capitalist countries. Liu E's (1857-1909)The Travels of Lao Can, another exposure novel appearing in this period,also uncovered social reality in the late Qing Dynasty through describingthe experiences of a doctor. A Flower in an Ocean of Sin, by Zeng Pu(1871 -1935) was one of the more valuable of the novels created in thelate Qing Dynasty. The novel satirized the corrupt way of life of the"highbrow" scholars.

The literary revolution during the May 4th Movement turned on anew page in the development of Chinese literature. Both the form andcontent of the novel made great breakthroughs during this ideologicalrevolution. Lu Xun's short story "A Madman's Diary" broke the traditional styleof narration adopted by classical literary sketches, creating a new literaryform characterized by an economic, flexible and varied structure. But itsexpressive methods and style still followed those of the traditional novel.The new type of novel written during this period was inclined to reflectthe true colors of life. Lu Xun's Call to Arms and Wandering, both shortstory collections, were regarded as the cornerstone of new fiction andmodern Chinese literature.

Members of the Literary Research Society, established in 1921,created a large amount of issue-oriented fiction guided by the dictum"literature for life's sake." "Two Families," "I Alone so Pale and Wan" and"The Superman" by Bing Xin, "The Old Companions on the Seashore"by Lu Yin (1898-1934), "The Diligent Spider Weaving lts Web" and"Spring Peach" by Xu Dishan (1893-1941), "Deep Meditation"and"Smile" by Wang Tongzhao (1897-1957), and "Mr. Pan in the Mire" byYe Shengtao (1894-1988) were all masterpieces. These novels discussedthe problems of family and marriage and solutions from only an individualpoint of view of existence, instead of analyzing them from a political orsocial perspective. Another common aspect of these novels was thatthey all reflected the ideal of "universal love" and criticized the destruction of love and beauty. In the mid-1920s writings reminiscing about hometown life beganto spring up, labeled "Native" fiction, which influenced the "For Life"School. "Native" fiction reflected the peasants' lives of suffering, theirawakening, and the decline of the landlord and small-propertied classes.Major works and writers included: "Exhausted Man" by Wang Renshu(1901 -1972); short story anthologies Instigation and Storm in the Cupby Peng jiahuang (1898-1933); Son of the Earth and Tower Builder byTai Jingnong (1903- ); "Mad Woman" and "The Death of Yuanzheng" byXu Qinwen (1897-1984); and "Independence" and "Gold" by Lu Yan(1901 -1944). These works exhibited intense local color and promptedthe deepening tendencies of new literature towards realism.

Existing side by side with the "For Life" School was the "For Art"School. Yu Dafu (1896-1945) made the greatest strides towards creatingthis genre of fiction. Yu Dafu's representative work, written early on,was the collection of short stories Sinking, which described the lives ofChinese students in Japan and reflected on the spiritual injury to thesestudents caused by national oppression. Yu Dafu's writings include"Intoxicating Spring Nights," "She is a Weak Woman," and "Chi Guihua." Another important writer of the "For Art" School was Zhang Ziping(1893-1959), whose representative works include "Fossils of the Alluvial Period" and "Tree-Planting Day."

At the end of the 1920s, inspired by proletarian revolution, Chinese "Left" writers created a large number of works. Mao Dun's Trilogy of Shi reflected the disillusionment of Chinese scholars after the failure of the revolution. Rou Shi's (1902-1931 ) representative novel February and Ye Shengtao's Ni Huanzhi also belonged to this category of disillusionment novel. Ding Ling's Diary of Miss Sophie, created out of deep despair towards life after the failure of the revolution, brought her great fame overnight. In contrast to "disillusionment" fiction was "outrage" fiction, whichwas best represented by jiang Guangchi's "Li Sha's Bitterness,""Memorial Ceremony" and "The Last Smile."

In the early stages of revolutionary literature, many "Left-wing"writers' novels were idealistic, but this did not restrict the works of ZhangTianyi, Sha Ting and Ai Wu. The novels of Zhang Tianyi (1906-1985)touched upon the lives of various classes and social strata. His novelsreflecting the "gray lives" of the bourgeoisie best revealed his artistry -for example, "The Leather Belt," "From Emptiness to Fullness ,"Fatalismand Fortune-telling." Sha Ting's (1904-1992) novel exposed thecorruption of local government in Sichuan's countryside and the evilsof the local warlords. His representative works included" Ding, A CrippledMan," "The Acting County Magistrate," "The Way of Beasts," "Murderer,"and "In the Ancestral Temple." Sha Ting was adept at telling cruel storiesdispassionately and hiding his own feelings behind the stories. The majorcontribution of Ai Wu (1904- ) lay in his development of the novel'sSubject matter. His The First Lesson of Life, In the Valley and Seeing offa Guest in Mountains all describe the roving and disappointments ofdrifters in the border areas. These novels were filled with powerfullyromantic and legendary color.

In the 1930s a series of excellent novels were created by Mao Dun,Lao She, Ba Jin and other writers. The success achieved by these novelsmarked a new breakthrough in Chinese literature. The novels written byLi Jiren (1891-1962), a novelist from Sichuan Province, such as Rippleson Dead Water, At the Eve of Storm and The Great Wave, describedimportant events taking place in Sichuan between the Opium War andthe Revolution of 1911, and shaped the important "Changhe (long river)"novel. Ripples on Dead Water, the most successful novel written by LiJiren, vividly portrayed several distinctive characters as well as the folkcustoms and lifestyles of Sichuan Province.

In the 1930s the most popular novel was Zhang Henshui's Fate in Tears andLaughter. Zhang Henshui is the representative writer of the Yuanyang hudie (mandarin duck and butterfly) school, and his novels also include TheAnecdotes of Beijing and The Celebrated Family. During the anti- Japanese war, he took a patriotic stand and published satirical novels such as Eighty-one Dreams.

The achievements of Chinese literature in the 1930s were many-sided.In addition to the writers mentioned above, other authors also madegreat contributions to enriching fiction in this period. Shen Congwen,whose works are characterized by moral criticism, was the most prolificwriter during this period. His most outstanding works are those describingthe folk customs of his hometown in western Hubei Province. Hisrepresentative works include "A Remote City," "Xiao Xiao," "LongZhu,"and "Scenery in Moonlight." Shen Congwen tried to construct a worldof kindness and beauty in his stories.

After the September 18 Incidence (the seizure of Shenyang in 1931by the japanese invaders, as a step towards their occupation of the entireNortheast), writers in northeastern China, represented by Xiao Jun andXiao Hong, created a large number of stories taking resistance to theJapanese invasion as their central subject matter .Village in August byXiao Jun (1907-1988) and Field of Life and Death by Xiao Hong (1911 -1942) were thought of as masterpieces by Left writers, and took Chineseliterature into a new phase.

Fiction Synopsis (b)

The intensification of the anti Japanese War was the basis for this new stage of development of the fiction and wartime literature as a whole,and a throng of literary works emerged reflecting people's feelings aboutthe war. Novels praising heroism and new movements which emergedduring the war included: Qiu Dongping's short story "A Stormy Day,"Xiao Qian's "The Death of Liu Cuigang," Ai Wu's "Autumn Harvest," andYao Xueyin's "Half-cart of Wheat Straw Short." Works exposing thereactionary forces which impeded the anti-Japanese resistance includedZhang Tianyi's "Mr. Hua Wei" and Sha Ting's "In the Qixiangju Teahouse."

During this period some "reminiscence" novels also came out,including Xiao Hong's The Story of the Hulan River, Duanmu Hongliang'sThe Korchin Banner Plains, Qi Tong's The New Generation, and LuoBinji's The Chaos. With the ongoing war, literary development in Japanese-occupiedareas was difficult. Therefore, literary creation in liberated areas andKuomintang-dominated areas became the most important componentof wartime literature.

After the Yan'an Forum on Literature and Art, people's art gatheredgreat momentum in the liberated areas under the guiding principle that"art serves workers, peasants and soldiers," and there emerged a series ofnovels on rural life. Zhao Shuli made the greatest achievement in this respect. His The Marriage of Young Blacky, Rhymes of Li Youcai and The Changes in Li Village were successful in giving strong images of liberated peasants and profoundly reflecting the changes taking place in the countryside in the 194Os. Kang Zhuo's novel used similar language with similar subject matter to Zhao's. This is evident in works like My Two Host Families, In laws and Winter Plum Blossom. Kang's novels are sincere without being stiff, eloquent without being wordy, and come across as very vivid and innovative.

Sun Li and Liu Baiyu made distinctive advances in the short story.Sun Li was adept at portraying peasant women and their lives, while LiuBaiyu focused particularly on military topics, such as in "Three invincibleFighters." Foregrounding a typical setting was the greatest achievementof Liu Baiyu's fiction.

Most novels emerging in the liberated areas recounted importantevents. Ouyang Shan's (1908- ) Uncle Gao, written in 1946, and LiuQing's first novel, Sowing, written in 1949, both described thedevelopment of production in the countryside, while Cao Ming's novellaThe Moving Force took industry as its focus. Ding Ling's The Sun Shinesover the Sanggan River and Zhou Libo's The Hurricane described thestruggle to abolish feudal land-ownership.

The many heroic and inspiring acts in the liberated area providedrich literary material for the creation of epic novels. The Story oflronbucket, written by Ke Lan, and Heroes of the Luliang Mountains, co-authored by Ma Feng and Xi Rong, were deeply appreciated by readers.Yuan Jing and KongJue's New Story of Daughters and Sons is an excellentheroic legendary novel, which described the brave battles of peasantsin Baiyangdian against Japanese invaders.

After the New Fourth Army incident (1941 ), medium-and full-lengthnovels mushroomed in Kuomintang-dominated areas. These works,instead of describing the war superficially, probed deeply into people'slives under conditions of war. Famous works created during this periodinclude: Mao Dun's Decay; Sha Ting's three novels reflecting rural life inSichuan represented by Gold Digging; Ai Wu's "Fertile Land,""Hometown" and "In the Mountains;" Lao She's Four Generations underOne Roof; Ba Jin's Cold Nights; and Qian Zhongshu's (1910- ) The CityBesieged, which was likened as The Scholars of modern times. The best fiction created during the period of developing socialistliterature (1949-1956) were those recounting revolutionary war and rurallife. Liu Baiyu's "Flames Ahead," Xu Guangyao's Fires in the Plain, LiuQing's Wall of Bronze, Du Pengcheng's Defend yan'an, Liu Zhixia's TheRaiway Guerrillas, Gao Yunlan's Annals of a Provincial Town, WangYuanjian's "Membership Dues," Jun Qing's "Dawn on the River," YangShuo's A Thousand Miles of Lovely Land, and Lu Zhuguo's The Battle ofSangkumryung, were all very popular with the people. More and more fiction was written about rural life during this period.Famous works include Zhao Shuli's "Registration," Sanliwan ap, MaFeng's "Marriage," Gao Xiaosheng's "Liberation," Li Zhun's "Not ThatWay," Qin Zhaoyang's In the Fisld, March!, Sun Li's The Story ofTiemuqian, Kang Zhuo's "Spring Sowing, Autumn Harvest," LiuShaotang's "Green Leaves," and Li Mantian's The Water Flows East. Characterization made great progress during this period, especiallythe portrayal of negative characters. Novelists of this period no longerdepicted their characters simplistically and their works placed a greatemphasis on revealing conflict and describing a character's inner world.

During the period between 1957 and just before the CulturalRevolution, the creation of fiction entered its first turning point since thefounding of new China. Novels of this period were not only created inlarge number, their content also reflected greater depth and breadth ofsocial life. For example, Yao Xueyin's Li Zicheng(volumel), Li Ziren's TheGreat wave, Ouyang Shan's Three Family Lane, and the first volume ofAi Mingzhi's Seeds of Flame, one of his "Trilogy of Flames," recountedChina's glorious tradition in resisting oppression; Liang Bin's Keep theRed Flag Chen Jing's On the Banks of the Jinshajiang River, WuQing's The Red Sun, Feng Deying's Bitter Herb, Liu Liu's Heroes in theFlames of War, Qu Bo's Tracks in the Snow Forest, Yang Mo's The Songof youth, Luo Guangbin and Yang Yiyan's Red Crag, and Li Yingru's In anold city recalled the struggle led by the Chinese communist Party todestroy the old world; Liu Qing's Builders of a New Life, Zhou Libo'sGreat Changes in a Mountain Village, and Kang Zhuo's dripping waterWears through a Stone described socialist reconstruction in rural areas;while Zhou Erfu's Morning in Shanghai told of the socialist transformationof capitalist industry and commerce. Many stories, which took workers, soldiers and intellectuals as theirsubjects, were also excellent works which greatly enriched the literatureof this period. These works created a galaxy of distinctive characters,such as Li Zicheng, Jiang Zhujun, Zhu Laozhong, Liang Shengbao, LinDaojing, Yang Zirong and Zhou Bing, who were strongly representativeof a historic period, and were real and lifelike to readers. Artistically, fiction of this period both absorbed the best of Chinesetraditions and borrowed useful expressive techniques from foreignliterature. Writers made many new experiments in this respect. Short stories of this period were sensitive in encompassing newissues and perspectives. Writers looked squarely at the conflicts in reallife and offered answers to questions of universal concern to people.Works typifying this included Li Zhun's "The Story of Li Shuangshuang,"Ai Wu's "More Southern Journeys," Zhao Shuli's "Exercise," Ma Feng's"I Knew All Along", Xi Rong's "Sister Lai"; Hu Wanchun's "Man of SpecialCut," and Lu Wenfu's "Master Worker Ge" which described a worker'slife, Wang Yuanjian's "Seven Matches," Jun Qing's "The Story of A TrafficStation," Han Zi's "Wan Niu," Ru Zhijuan's "The Lilies," and Liu Zhen's "TheMovement of Heroes" which looked back on the period of war.

After the turbulent Cultural Revolution, a slew of literary workscharging the disaster and harms to Chinese people caused by the ten yearsof turmoil were created. These works were called "wound literature." The mainform of "wound literature" were short stories, including Liu Xinwu's "The Class Teacher," Lu Xinhua's "The Wound," Chen Guokai's "What Shail I Do," Wang Meng's "The Most Precious." "Wound literature" also included a few excellent novels such as Ye Xin's The Years Drift By and Zhou Keqin's Xu Mao and His Daughters. One trend in "wound literature," seen in Cong Weixi's The Red Yulan under High Walls, praised revolutionary fighters' persistence in pursuing the truth and their exemplary conduct and nobility of character in times of frustration. Cong Weixi's novels described life in prison and was labeled "daqiang wenxue" (literaliy, the "literature of high walls"). ZhangJie's "Children in the Forest," Zhang Xianliang's "Whispers in Dungeion," and Ye Weilin's "on the River without Beacon Light" were importantcomponents of "wound literature," which praised common people'sexalted sentiments. "Wound Literature" revealed the trauma in many people's memories.In the wake of "wound" stories some writers sought to trace the roots ofthe historic tragedy. Ru Zhijuan's "A Story out of Sequence" reflectedon the perils of "ultra-left" thought. Other works Such as Gao Xiaosheng's"Li Shunda Builds A House," Liu Zhen's "Black Flag," Zhang Xuan's"Memory," Lu Yanzhou's A Tale of Tianyunshan Mountain, Wang Meng'sButterfly and Gu Hua's Hibiscus Town seriously pondered on historicreality. These novels were called "reflection literature. "

In 1979 while "reflection literature" was still ascendant, Jiang Zilong established a new kind of fiction "reform literature" with his short story "Manager Qiao Assumes office."Soon a large number of writers gathered together under the banner of "reform literature" and created a series of excellent works. Besides "Manager Qiao Assumes office," Jiang Zilong also published The Developer, iridescence, and Heroic Songs of Yan and Zhao. Other writers and their representative works include Ke Yunlu's "Thirty Million Yuan," New Star, Night and Day; Shui Yunxian's lnside Strife; ZhangXianliang's "The Seed of the Dragon," "Man's Style;" Zhang Jie's HeavyWings; Li Guowen's "No. 5 Garden Street"; Chen Chong's "Fast Trackingwithout Reaction"; Zhang Qi's "The Reformer"; Jia Pingwa's People inJiwowa and Flighty. These works revealed the determination of peoplefrom all walks of life to move society forward. The first group of young writers who had grown up after the founding of new China, overcoming the frustration brought about by the Cultural Revolution, vigorously devoted themselves again to literary creativity. Deng Youmei's "Our Army Commander" and Women Soldiers Rejoin Their Unit, praised as the "pioneer of the novella" in the new period, provided a good beginning.After the mid-198os, he turned to write about urban life and created"Looking for Hua'er Han," Na Wu Tobacco Flask and so on. These novelswere full of local color and descriptions of folk customs and practices,which arose entirely out of the author's unique aesthetic pursuits. Wang Zengqi's short stories "Records of Danao" and "Initiation,"which described the uplifting sentiments of people in bygone years,reveal his keen understanding of historic Culture. Liu Shaotang made a great contribution to the formation of the novelin the new period by initiating and creating "regional literature." Hisrepresentative works include Catkin Willow Flats, Lights on Fishing Boats,"Pretty Eyebrow," Melon Patch Willow Lane, and Scenery in Yuling.Lu Wenfu's "hutong or alley literature" reveals the essence of the life by describing daily life happenings in Suzhou's laneways, Feng Jicai's culture literature" Whip and Three-inch Golden Lotus'conveyed the modern sensibility through popular ways of expression. He Shiguang's novel depicted on ordinary intellectuals' psychologywith lucid and exquisite insights in works like Green Grass and YearsPass Quickly.

Since reform and opening up, the conflict between traditionalChinese Culture and Western culture has driven many writers to lookback on their cultural origins. In the mid-198Os, a craze of "seekingroots" sprouted in Chinese literary world and resulted in "root-seekingliterature". Representative writers here include Jia Pingwa, Han Shaogong,Li Hangyu and Zheng Wanlong. Though "root-seeking literature" hadturned out some marvelous novels like Zheng Yi's Old Well many ofthese works were considered obscure. Fiction reflecting on army life continued developing and even madesome breakthroughs during this period. In the mid-1980s, Xu Huaizhong's "Anecdote from the Western Line'. broke the tradition ofdescribing wars in a simplistic way by focusing the story on the majorcharacter Liu Maomei's ambivalent and depressive psychology. The storyrevealed the unity of opposites between historical grudges and a modernsoldier's responsibility. Major military fiction of this period include ZhuSujin's Shooting Heavenly Wolf, Zhu Chunyu's Oasis in Desert and TheYaxiya Waterfall, Li Binkui's "A Soldier in Tianshan Mountains," LiuZhaolin's "A Noisy Town in a Snowy World," Li Cunbao" "Wreath underthe Mountain," and Han Jingting's "Triumphant Return at Midnight."Compared to traditional military literature, modern military literature hasmade great progress in that ideological content is more varied,characterizations are more complex and intricate, and the expressivestyles are more esoteric and unique.

Young writers stepping into the literary world during the new periodformed another vital new force in the creation of fiction. Representativewriters include Tie Ning , Zhang Kangkang, Liang Xiaosheng, Wang Anyi,Kong Jiesheng, Shi Tiesheng and Zhang ChengZhi. Wang Anyi caused asensation in the literary world with "And the Rain Patters On". The storywas written in beautifully lyrical language expressing the human desirefor communication and understanding. Zhang Kangkang's "Summer"and Aurora Polaris touched young people in their pursuit of ideals andindividuality in modern times. Zhang Chengzhi's Black Horse and Riverin the Norha carry a deep sense of historical responsibility. Shi Tiesheng's"My Far Away Qingping Bay" tells the reader that the past years werenot blank. Liang Xiaosheng's "This ls a Piece of Miraculous Land" ledpeople to consider the real values in life. Kong Jiesheng's The Riverbankin the South despised the vacuity of urban life and expressed a desire toseek true values. Modern literature, initiated by Gao Xingjian and Li Tuo and enunciatedmainly by Liu Suola and Xu Xing, developed rapidly. Liu Suola's YouHave No Other Choice, Blue Sky and Green Sea, Xu Xing's "VariationsWithout Motif," Liu Xihong's Yuu Cannot Change Me, revealed, fromdifferent perspectives, young people's alienation and confusion whenthe old values are discarded and the new ones are still to be found. MoYan's Transparent Red Turip tries to unveil a unique and distinctiveartistic perception. Ma Yuan and other writers made painstakingexperiments in way of narratives.

Literary theory also has a long history in China. Many theorists havemade invaluable contributions in this discipline, with more than 2O0being very famous. These theorists have bequeathed a rich culturalheritage for China. Intent and Ornament (literally, Carving a Dragon onLiterature's Heart) by Liu Xie (c.AD 465-532) and The Classification ofPoets by Zhong Rong (AD 466-518) were both written in the Liang periodof the Southern Dynasty, while The Twenty-tour Moves of Poetry bySikong Tu (AD 837-908) was created in the Tang Dynasty, and WangGuowei's (1877-1927) Studies on Dramas of the Song and YuanDynasties and Talks on Lyric Meters in the Human Wold were writtenin the late Qing Dynasty - these were the most systematic and strictclassics among the thousands of writings on literary theory. There werealso many excellent scholars on the history of modern literature, andtheir works have provided a precious resource for the fertile study ofliterary theory in China.

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