XIE BINGYING, A.K.A. HSIEH PINGYING (1906—2000) - The Dictionary

Chinese Literature - Li-hua Ying 2010

The Dictionary

XIE BINGYING, A.K.A. HSIEH PINGYING (1906—2000). Essayist and fiction writer. Known as a “woman soldier writer,” Xie Bingying was well ahead of her times; not only did she receive a formal education afforded mostly to boys, she joined the army and fought in battles as early as the 1920s when foot-binding was a common practice for Chinese girls. This rare accomplishment was due to her own determination as well as the support provided by her father, a well-known scholar and an open-minded educator, and her progressive brothers. Xie’s first success at creative writing is a diary entitled Congjun riji (War Diary) published in 1927 and based on her own experience in the Northern Expedition (1926—1927), a military campaign led by the Nationalist Party and the Communist Party to end the rule of warlords and unify the country under the Nationalist leadership. The work was translated into English by Lin Yutang, winning Xie international fame. When Japan invaded China, Xie resumed her military service, this time heading an auxiliary company of women to provide medical services for the troops and report on the battles.

Xie was influenced by Western literature introduced to China during the May Fourth Movement and her two trips to Japan, in 1931 and 1935, allowed her to come into contact with Japanese feminist writings. Nearly all of her publications in the 1930s and 1940s champion women’s liberation from the yoke of traditional morality. Most of Xie’s writings are autobiographical. Nü bing zizhuan (Autobiography of a Female Soldier), Nübing shi nian (Ten Years of a Female Soldier’s Life), and Yige nüxing de fendou (A Woman’s Struggle for Independence) are all drawn from her life.

After she moved to Taiwan in 1948 to assume a teaching post at National Taiwan Normal University, Xie continued to be productive, turning out a large number of works, both fiction and prose, consisting of reminiscences of her early life such as Wo de shaonian shidai (My Teenage Years), Guxiang (Hometown), and Wo de huiyi (Remembrances); travelogues such as Malaiya youji (Travels to Malaysia) and Jiujinshan de wu (The Fog of San Francisco); and novels about romantic love, inlcuding Hong dou (Red Beans) and Biyao zhi lian (Biyao’s Love). Xie lived in San Francisco from 1971 to her death in 2000. See also NEW CULTURE MOVEMENT.