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Salient. An Organ of Student Opinion at Victoria College, Wellington N.Z. Vol. 1, No. 11 June 15, 1938

Chinese Writing

Chinese Writing

Many of us have experienced the mellow, even-flowing poetry of ancestral China and have sensed something of its conspiracy with peace and understanding—the traditions of a culture older and more profound than our own.

But although the centuries move slowly In China, never daring to tread on one another's heels, the old imperturbable days have gone for ever.

The modern Chinese writer was faced with the most contorted of situations-age-old feudal traditions disrupted by half-a-down aggressive imperialisms.

The immediate, motives that impelled different writers were varied. Some were impelled to satirise the old ideas and institutions that hampered them individually. Others were roused to action by a hatred of the foreign imperialists that were seeking 10 dismember their country.

Reasons for Tumult.

Yet others, like Lu Hsun, understood in all their tremendous significance the forces that were destroying the old and building up the new China. Others again. In impassioned verse, merely gave expression to the tumult in their hearts, that reflected the uncertainties of an epoch of change. But basic in all different schools and tendencies was the urge to a realistic understanding of the world, the urge to build up a Chinese mind that would be able to analyse correctly the complex phenomena of contemporary life and make decisions in accordance with scientific truth.

Until us late as 1917. Chinese literature was dominated by writings In the Wen Ven style—the language of the literati trained in the ways of thought and expression of the Confucian classics. The Wen Yen style was abstruse, full of classical allusions that were understandable only by the initiated æsthetes. The Pal Hwa literature used by novelists and storytellers was in the everyday language of the people and was generally despised by the literati.

The new Chinese bourgeois intelligentsia played the role of literary pioneers, numerous works were written, and translations made, and by 1920 Pal Hwa writing was officially accepted by the Republican Government.

First Steps.

The first really creative work was Clint of Lu Hsun. whose "Diary of a Madman" and "Story of Ah Q" appeared in 1918 and 1919. His work was the forerunner of the new literary movement under the slogan of "From a Literary Revolution to a Revolutionary Literature."

This virile movement gradually attained direction and strength: its aim was "an the basis of realist observation, to reflect social phenomena and disclose or discuss some problem of human life."

In 1930 the League of Left Writers was formed, with Lu Hsun at its head. The league dominated the intellectual and literary life of the time, making wide use of the propaganda leaflet, the essay and the journalistic [unclear: feuillerton]. Outstanding young novelists of the movement are Mao Tun ("Twilight"), Ting Ling ("Mother") and Tien Chun ("Village in August").

In 1938 a new United Front Writers' League was organised, and united firmly and creatively the Chinese writers were ready to meet the attack of the Japanese War Lords.


Upon the outbreak of aggression. Indignation flared high, and in the space or a few, days old organisations of national solidarity were reorganised, new ones inaugurated.

All of these groups are represented on the centrulising League for Cultural Groups for National Defence. The League stands for the defence of Chinese culture that has given so much to mankind. It calls for the mobilisation and support, of all the International cultural organisations that are determined to withstand the encroachments of Fascism and war.

That this call has been taken up by authors the World over is their vindication. An outstanding demonstration of the sincerity and realness of this response was given recently when a number of well-known English writers, including Storm Jameson. Naomi Mitchison and Stephen Spender paraded in London bearing sandwich-boards and banners demanding the boycott of Japanese goods and popular action in defence of China. J.D.F.