LI JINFA (1900—1976)
LI JINFA (1900—1976). Poet, fiction writer, and sculptor. Li Jinfa grew up in Meixian, Guangdong Province, in a large family headed by his peasant/merchant father who had spent several years in Mauritius running a small shop. Educated in Guangdong, Hong Kong, and Shanghai, Li Jinfa later studied art in Paris, where he came under the influence of French symbolists, particularly Charles Baudelaire, whose “Les Fleurs du Mal” left a strong impression on the budding poet. The first symbolist poet in modern China, Li created some of the most obscure lines in early modern Chinese poetry, utterly confounding his readers. His poetry is known for its “bizarre” images and “irrational” associations. The poems collected in Wei yu (Drizzle), published in 1925, show evidence of symbolist influence in their abundant images of the grotesque, such as corpses, skeletons, bloodstains, cold nights, muddy roads, dead leaves, and so on. Like Charles Baudelaire, Li aestheticizes the unseemly and turns it into the sublime. “Ye zhi ge” (Song of the Night), “Qi fu” (The Abandoned Woman), and “Shenghuo” (Life) are among his best-known poems. He taught art in Hangzhou and Guangzhou, and in the late 1940s, he served as a diplomat stationed in Iran and Iraq for the Nationalist government. When the Communists won the Civil War, Li immigrated to the United States and made a living in New Jersey raising chickens. He died in New York. See also MODERNISTS.