WEN YIDUO, PEN NAME OF WEN JIAHUA (1899—1946) - The Dictionary

Chinese Literature - Li-hua Ying 2010

The Dictionary

WEN YIDUO, PEN NAME OF WEN JIAHUA (1899—1946). Poet. Before entering Qinghua University, Wen received a traditional education in Hubei, his home province. In 1922, he went to the United States to study fine arts and literature at the Chicago Art Institute. It was during this time that his first collection of poetry, Hong zhu (Red Candle), was published in China. He returned to Beijing in 1925 and became a literature professor. In 1928, his second collection, Si shui (Dead Water), was published. In the same year, he joined the Crescent Society. When the Japanese invaded China, Wen moved with his university to Kunming, Yunnan, where he became politically active. His public denounciation of the Nationalist government eventually cost him his life, when he was assassinated in 1946.

Wen’s poetry reflects two aspects of his life. As a scholar and professor of Chinese literature, he paid attention to intrinsic elements of literary form. As a politically engaged intellectual, he showed a deep concern for his country and people. For these two reasons, he was regarded as both a “formalist” and “patriotic” poet. In reaction to the trendy practice of showing total disregard for form, he wrote essays to advocate “formal properties” for the new poetry. These essays as well as his poems established his position as a leader of modern poetry. See also NEW CULTURE MOVEMENT; SINO-JAPANESE WAR.