CHENG FANGWU (1897—1984)
CHENG FANGWU (1897—1984). Poet, fiction writer, and playwright. One of the founders of the Creation Society, Cheng Fangwu spent his formative years (1910—1921) in Japan, where he teamed with Guo Moruo, Yu Dafu, and other Chinese students to promote radical changes in China’s political, social, and literary institutions. After he returned to China, Cheng moved to Guangzhou, the center of political activities at the time, and taught at Guangdong University and the Huangpu Military Academy. In 1927, after the alliance between the Nationalists and the Communists fell apart, Cheng fled to Paris, where he joined the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) and became the editor for Chi guang (Red Light), an internal magazine published by the party’s Berlin and Paris branches. Upon his return to China in 1931, Cheng was assigned to key posts within the CCP, including party secretary of Hong’an County, director of the Central Party School, and president of United University of Northern China. After 1949, Cheng worked exclusively in higher education, serving as a university president.
Cheng’s literary career was rather short, with a small output of writings mostly published in the 1920s when he was actively involved in the Creation Society. He wrote short stories and poems, promoting a “revolutionary literature” with the explicit purpose of effecting political and social change. Later when he was working in the Communist headquarters in northern Shaanxi, he wrote plays and songs to boost morale in service to the Communist cause. In his last years, he published memoirs about his revolutionary career such as Changzheng huiyi lu (A Memoir of the Long March), adding to the long list of personal accounts written by veteran Communists about this important chapter in the CCP history. More influential than his creative works are his commentaries and critical essays, which represent the mainstream Marxist tradition of the Chinese literary establishment. See also LEFT-WING ASSOCIATION OF CHINESE WRITERS; SPOKEN DRAMA.