LIN YAODE (1962—1996) - The Dictionary

Chinese Literature - Li-hua Ying 2010

LIN YAODE (1962—1996)
The Dictionary

LIN YAODE (1962—1996). Poet, fiction and prose writer, and critic. Graduate of Furen University in Taiwan, Lin Yaode was considered a literary prodigy. In his short life of 34 years, he published more than 30 books and won numerous awards. His writing career, which began when he was a teenager, spanned several genres and areas. At the time of his death, Lin had achieved fame as one of the most versatile and influential writers and critics in Taiwan. He is especially remembered as a tireless promoter of postmodern urban literature, which he saw as a continuation of the 1930s’ New Sensibility school represented by such writers as Shi Zhecun, Liu Na’ou, and Mu Shiying, and the modernist poetry movement spearheaded by Ji Xian and others in Taiwan in the 1950s. He positioned himself as the movement’s theorist, practitioner, and critic. In his fiction, including E dixing (The Ugly Land) and Da dong qu (The Great Eastern District), considered representative works of urban literature, he treats the city not just as a theme but also a text written and read by the author. His essays collected under the title of Migong lingjian (Parts of the Labyrinth) present the city as a composite of spaces as well as human beings, a modern “labyrinth” in which a person loses direction.

Another important issue that Lin was passionately involved in was the work of deconstructing history in general and literary history in particular. He was by all accounts an ambitious literary historian who challenged and subverted well-established interpretations by eminent scholars such as C. T. Hsia. The epic Yijiusiqi gaosha baihe (1947—The Taiwanese Lily) is particularly significant in that it represents Lin’s broad attempt at examining how history, literary or political, is constructed. The work looks at the February 28th (1945) Incident from the perspective of an indigenous Taiwanese representing the marginalized people whose voice has been routinely silenced in official or popular history. The narration of the past as it appears in the book is predicated on the juxtaposition of several systems of reference, such as aboriginal myths, European imperialism, Japanese colonialism, and the Han Chinese cultural paradigm. His skepticism toward so-called definitive history or authoritative interpretation is most evident in this work.

Lin was also a highly regarded science fiction writer, having spun some incredibly imaginative tales including Shijian long (The Time Dragon), a futuristic treatment of human capacity for destruction. His propensity for the description of violence, of unrestrained savagery, often compared with French writers Marquis de Sade, Comte de Lautréamont, and Georges Bataille, has drawn a good deal of attention and created some controversy. Lin’s poetry, characterized as symbolic, has received much critical acclaim.