Chinese Literature - Li-hua Ying 2010
SHEN RONG (1936— )
SHEN RONG (1936— ). Fiction writer. Shen was born in Hankou, Hubei, and had an eventful childhood due to the wars and political upheavals that surrounded her. She moved with her parents from one place to another and eventually settled in Chongqing. After 1949, she worked as an assistant in a publishing house and studied Russian at the Beijing Institute of Russian Studies. Shen began writing in the 1970s under the influence of socialist realism. Her best work in the 1970s is “Yongyuan shi chuntian” (The Eternal Spring). Set against the background of the decades between the Sino-Japanese War and the Cultural Revolution, the story portrays a female revolutionary cadre. Shen’s breakthrough, however, did not come until the publication of Ren dao zhongnian (At Middle Age), a story about the difficulties faced by middle-aged professionals as a result of the collusion of political ideology with pervasive bureaucracy. When the story was turned into a movie, Shen became an instant celebrity.
After Ren dao zhongnian, Shen continued to write about the damages the Cultural Revolution did to the nation. Rendao laonian (At Old Age) was published in 1991 when Chinese society had undergone fundamental changes since the late 1970s. The three main characters, all professional women who were college classmates in the 1950s, experience a sense of loss and disillusionment in the midst of a rapidly commercializing society. Unable to fit into the new world, they have only one consolation: their memories of the idealistic 1950s when they, like the newly founded country, were optimistic and full of energy.