MU SHIYING (1912—1940) - The Dictionary

Chinese Literature - Li-hua Ying 2010

MU SHIYING (1912—1940)
The Dictionary

MU SHIYING (1912—1940). Fiction writer. Born in Zhejiang, Mu Shiying spent his childhood in Shanghai with his banker father. While a student at Guanghua University majoring in Chinese language and literature, Mu was deeply engrossed in modern Western literature as well as works by Japanese New Sensibility school writers, especially those by Yokomitsu Riichi, which informed much of his work. He published his first story “Zanmen de shijie” (Our World) in 1930. Another story, “Gong mu” (Public Cemetery), made the pages of the first issue of Xiandai (Modernity), a literary journal that advocated for Chinese modernism, establishing Mu as one of the prominent writers in the Chinese modernist movement, now often mentioned in the company of Shi Zhecun and Liu Na’ou as a prominent New Sensibility (Xin Ganjue pai) writer. The stories in his first collection of fiction, entitled Nan bei ji (The North and South Poles), explore the rough world of pirates, salt merchants, gang members, cabbies, beggars, and other such figures who talk dirty and act tough. In his second collection, Gong mu (The Public Cemetery), he turns to the subtle feelings and emotions of urban bourgeois life, a central subject for all New Sensibility writers. He put great emphasis on the exploration of the individual psyche and the perception of reality through the senses and thus won critical acclaim. His stories feature Freudian psychoanalysis, focusing on love, marriage, and sexuality as a medium through which to explore the theme of alienation in modern city life. His stories collected in Baijin de nüti suxiang (The Platinum Female Statue), Yezonghui li de wuge ren (The Five People in the Night Club), and Shanghai de hubuwu (Shanghai’s Fox Trot) represent some of the best New Sensibility writings. Many of Mu’s stories feature the femme fatale who represents the lethal eros of the modern city that abandons middle-class men after it has seduced them, leaving them in a state of confusion and despondence.

In the aftermath of the Japanese invasion, Mu went to Hong Kong but soon returned to Shanghai in 1939 to work for a newspaper run by the puppet government of Wang Jingwei, who collaborated with the Japanese. The following year, Mu was assassinated, allegedly by Chiang Kai-shek’s secret service. His name was not cleared until the 1970s, when new evidence surfaced that he had been sent by the Nationalist government to infiltrate the puppet administration.