SU QING, PEN NAME OF FENG YUNZHUANG (1914—1982) - The Dictionary

Chinese Literature - Li-hua Ying 2010

The Dictionary

SU QING, PEN NAME OF FENG YUNZHUANG (1914—1982). Essayist, fiction writer, and playwright. In Japanese-occupied Shanghai, Su Qing was as well known as her friend, Zhang Ailing. Jiehun shi nian (Ten Years of Marriage), a novel based on her own unhappy marriage, made her famous in Shanghai. In both her fiction and her newspaper columns, she wrote about the difficulties of everyday life for women, particularly career women like herself. She also talked about women’s sexual desire in undisguised language. Stories such as “Liang tiao yu” (Two Fish), “Xiong qian de mimi” (Secrets), and “Fei e” (Moth), all told in the first-person narrative and drawn from her personal life, represent some of the most audacious expressions of sexuality found in Chinese literature of the 1940s. A divorced single mother raising children on her own, she distrusts marriage as an institution and proposes that it should not be the only viable option for women or men and that cohabitation should be socially acceptable. Her style of writing is plain and straightforward, painting her characters with bold, simple strokes. In addition to her autobiographical novel Jiehun shi nian, her other well-received books include the novella Qi lu jia ren (A Beauty on the Wrong Path), and the short story collection Tao (Waves). She depicts the pragmatism of career women, their self-consciousness, and their anxieties. After 1949, Su stayed on in Shanghai and wrote plays for the Shanghai Yueju Opera Troupe. The changed political environment, however, made it difficult for her to continue her creative work and she underwent a series of political persecutions until she finally died in poverty and sickness, unable to witness the revived interest in her writings.