Chinese Literature - Li-hua Ying 2010
CHEN YINGZHEN, A.K.A. CH’EN YING-CHEN, PEN NAME OF CHEN YONGSHAN (1937— )
CHEN YINGZHEN, A.K.A. CH’EN YING-CHEN, PEN NAME OF CHEN YONGSHAN (1937— ). Fiction writer. Chen Yingzhen attended Tamkang University and graduated from the National Taiwan University. He began his literary career in 1959 and has published mostly short stories portraying life in small villages and towns of Taiwan. In 1968, Chen, accused of “pro-communist activities,” was found guilty and sentenced to seven years in prison.
As a literary figure, Chen is a leading voice in the nativist literary movement in Taiwan. Going against the modernist trend promoted by his professors and fellow students at the Foreign Languages Department of the National Taiwan University, Chen chose to adhere to the realist tradition by writing about the harsh realities of rural poverty. Treating literature as an outlet of social and moral conviction, Chen depicts the sufferings and alienation of Taiwanese farmers who are forced into insolvency by encroaching modernization and an unscrupulous business class. Chen also takes jabs at Taiwan’s attempt to Americanize and the devastating effect it has on local culture. “Jiangjun zu” (Generals), one of his best-known stories, about a local drum and gong band that plays at funerals, laments the loss of a close-knit, traditional community in industrializing Taiwan. In Chen’s writings, there is often the opposition between idealism and materialism. A politically engaged writer, Chen is often believed to have represented the social conscience of Taiwan during the repressive reign of Chiang Kai-shek.