SUN LI (1913—2002)
SUN LI (1913—2002). Novelist and essayist. The Baiyangdian Lake area where Sun Li spent much of his time before and after the Sino-Japanese War formed the backdrop for many of his stories. Sun joined the Communist army in 1942 and thus began his long association with the Communists. Many of his stories were written during the war, depicting the villagers of the Baiyangdian Lake area in their heroic struggle against the Japanese army. He later wrote about the land reform policy. When the People’s Liberation Army took Tianjin in 1949, Sun went to the city with the troops, and in the years that followed he worked at the Tianjin Daily. In the 1950s he published some of his major works, including Fengyun jishi (Stormy Years), a novel about Chinese peasants’ resistance against the Japanese, and Tie mu qianzhuan (Blacksmith and Carpenter), a novella portraying the waxing and waning of the friendship between two men over a period of 20 years.
The general tendency of Sun’s art is to lean heavily toward creating positive characters to inspire his readers and to offer them stories that glorify the spirit of the nation, which fit the templates of socialist realism. In the 1950s, Sun’s aesthetic was influential among young writers and helped form the so-called Lotus Lake school, consisting of a group of writers based in northern China who emphasized the use of poetic language to extol the beauty of the land and the admirable qualities of the peasants.