LIN HUIYIN (1903—1955)
LIN HUIYIN (1903—1955). Poet, fiction writer, architect, and architectural historian. Born in Fujian Province to an official family, Lin Huiyin grew up in Beijing. In 1919 at the age of 16, her diplomat father took her to Europe. There she attended St. Mary’s College in London and was introduced to her father’s circle of literary friends including the poet Xu Zhimo, who courted her persistently but failed to win her hand. In 1925, she went to the United States with her then fiancé Liang Sicheng, son of the eminent political reform leader Liang Qichao, where she studied architecture at the University of Pennsylvania and stage design at Yale. After coming back to Beijing, the couple became the most important figures in the preservation and study of traditional Chinese architecture. After 1949, Lin taught architecture at Qinghua University and helped design the national emblem and the Monument of the People’s Heroes, which stands in the center of Tian’anmen Square. She died of illness in Beijing.
Lin was active in the Crescent Society, of which Xu Zhimo was a prominent member, and her living room was the most famous literary and cultural salon in Beijing. She wrote numerous poems, six short stories, and one play, and translated English literature into Chinese. Her poems, while showing traces of Xu’s influence in their romantic spirit, retain her own exquisite touch. “Ni shi renjian siyue tian” (You Are the Days of April) is her best-known poem. Her short story “Jiushijiu du zhong” (Ninety-nine Degrees) describes a hot summer day in the city of Beijing. The story captures the minute details of a birthday party, a wedding, a police station, and the death of a poor porter, all effortlessly strung together to present a vivid picture of the reality of the city. In another story, “Jiong” (Embarrassment), Lin uses the modern technique of stream of consciousness to reveal the emotional turmoil of a middle-aged professor who has to hide his improper feelings for the young daughter of his friend. Despite the small quantity of her literary output, these and other works provide enough evidence for Lin to be considered a talented writer. See also WOMEN.